Board touring southern Minnesota, hears about HI’s impact in Austin

University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents to The Hormel Institute

Pictured together in the center are the Regents Chairman Richard Beeson (brown jacket); Dr. Brian Herman, Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota; and Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute. Leaders from The Hormel Institute, The Hormel Foundation and community helped welcome the Regents.

Five members of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents made a special visit Friday to The Hormel Institute as part of a tour through southern Minnesota.

Led by board chairman Richard Beeson, the Regents joined Dr. Brian Herman, Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota, in learning more about the world-class cancer research being conducted at The Hormel Institute, a research unit under the University of Minnesota since its inception in 1942.

The Hormel Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong and Associate Director Dr. Ann M. Bode gave a presentation about the Institute’s 72 years of progress, which has been focused for more than a decade now on discoveries leading to the prevention and control of cancer. Each of the 13 section leaders from The Hormel Institute also gave an update on their area research to the Regents.

“This is an important and exciting time for The Hormel Institute,” Beeson said. “Its expansion is important to advance the world-renowned research taking place and to showcase the partnership between the University, The Hormel Foundation and the Mayo Clinic. The Institute is a crucial asset to our state and we’re thrilled to have an opportunity to visit and meet with community leaders.”

Other Regents who visited the Institute included Thomas Devine, Dean Johnson, Peggy Lucas and Abdul Omari.

The 12-member Board of Regents included a visit to Austin and The Hormel Institute as part of its tour through southern Minnesota that also featured stops at the Dairy Education Center in Nicollet and the Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca. Regents are responsible for monitoring and evaluating the University of Minnesota’s performance and approving educational programs, major policies, long-range plans and annual budgets. They also oversee the university’s president.

Part of the Regents’ visit Friday included learning about The Hormel Institute’s upcoming, $28.5 million expansion to nearly double its research space and add about 120 jobs in the coming years. More than 350 people – including Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken – participated Wednesday in a groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion, which is expected to be completed by August 2015.

The State of Minnesota is providing $13.5 million in bonding funds for the project with another $15 million committed by The Hormel Foundation for the construction. The Hormel Foundation also is committing up to $8 million for recruiting more world-class scientists for the new addition.

“We are very grateful for this opportunity to host the Regents,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, “and we truly appreciate them taking the time to visit and learn more about The Hormel Institute’s cancer research as part of the University of Minnesota and how we will be greatly expanding our efforts to accelerate answers to cancer in the coming year.”

Local leaders also gave presentations Friday related to The Hormel Institute’s positive effect on the community. They included State Rep. Jeanne Poppe; Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm; Bonnie Rietz, Vice Chair of The Hormel Foundation and former Austin mayor; Jerry Anfinson, Treasurer of The Hormel Foundation; and John Garry, Executive Director of the Development Corp. of Austin.


The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota

Started in 1942 by Jay C. Hormel, The Hormel Institute is comprised of a group of highly successful medical scientists who are focused on determining the basic molecular mechanisms of cancer development to develop new anti-cancer agents.