Senator makes his first visit to one of Minnesota’s top cancer research facilities

U.S. Sen. Al Franken got a firsthand look Wednesday at the cutting-edge cancer research performed at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota-Mayo Clinic, during his first visit to the medical research facility.

Leaders from the Austin community – including representatives from the City of Austin, Hormel Foods Corp. and The Hormel Foundation – welcomed Sen. Franken to The Hormel Institute to show him the $24 million expansion project completed in 2008. The project tripled the Institute in size and allowed the Institute to double the number of faculty and staff jobs.

Sen. Franken viewed The Hormel Institute’s research on a walking tour that included state-of-the-art laboratories, 3-D imaging technology used for drug development and the Blue Gene/L supercomputer that performs about 4.7 trillion calculations per second. The technology is part of The Hormel Institute’s growing International Center of Research Technology or ICRT, which houses the world’s most-advanced technologies including a cell sorter, confocal microscope and protein crystallography laboratory. The Hormel Institute is expanding the ICRT and currently waiting delivery of a new nano-HPLC triple POF mass spectrometer and additional IBM supercomputer. Funding for these technologies was supported by congressional appropriations.

“The nearly $2 million in federal appropriations is critically important because these technologies help accelerate the cancer research discoveries of The Hormel Institute,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute. “We are extremely thankful to Representative Tim Walz and Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar for their important support.”

Dr. Ann Bode, Associate Director, led the presentation, sharing The Hormel Institute’s significant research history and the latest in its cancer research.

“We are honored to have Senator Franken here today with our important partners from our community,” said Dr. Bode. “All of us have the hope for a cancer-free world and The Hormel Institute is working diligently for discoveries that will lead to nontoxic cancer prevention and non-toxic cancer treatment therapies. We are in this quest together.”

The Hormel Institute is regularly published in the world’s top scientific journals, including two featured cover articles in the past two years in Cancer Research (the top cancer research journal in the United States). In March 2011, Dr. Ann Bode and The Hormel Institute’s executive director Dr. Zigang Dong had an article published in the world’s highest-impact cancer journal, Nature Reviews Cancer.

The Hormel Institute is a world-renowned medical research center specializing in research of nontoxic, natural compounds used to prevent, control or cure cancer. It is comprised of a group of highly successful medical scientists who focus their efforts on determining the basic molecular mechanisms of cancer development with an objective to develop new anti-cancer therapies.