250-seat lecture hall to help with global cancer research collaborations

Live Learning Center - The Hormel Institute

Plans for a $4.5 million Live Learning Center were unveiled today by The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota as another way they will continue to grow and collaborate globally on leading cancer research.

Institute leaders aim to raise $3 million for the project that will be built over the coming year off The Hormel Institute’s west side, main lobby area. In addition, The Hormel Foundation is committing a $1.5 million gift for the project.

A multifunction room will be built on the other side of the Institute’s lobby wall montage showing the Institute’s seven-decade history of world-class scientific research.                Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong, joined by fellow Institute faculty, spoke today about the need for a 250-seat lecture hall that will feature theater-style seating and be focused on global learning with state-of-the-art communication technology that will enable more effective and easy video conferencing and broadcasting.

“Collaboration and communication between scientists around the world is vital in the fight against cancer,” Dong said. “If we work together, we will find better ways to prevent and control cancer more quickly. This project will greatly help us present to and learn from other scientists.”

To date, The Hormel Institute has received about $500,000 toward the $3 million fundraising goal for the Live Learning Center, with major gifts given by Richard & Nancy Knowlton; U.S. Bank; Ecolab; and Pat & Gary Ray.  Every tax-deductible gift of $500 and more will be recognized on a new, beautiful donor wall in the Live Learning Center.

This summer, The Hormel Institute embarked on its second major expansion within eight years to nearly double its facility’s size by constructing another 20 state-of-the-art laboratories on its east side. Work on both ends of the Institute is expected to be completed by early 2016.

The Hormel Institute recently added two cancer research sections, filling out the last remaining space from the 2006-08 expansion and putting the overall number at 15 sections – triple the number from 2006 when the last expansion started. Employment also has doubled since 2006 and is projected to double again in the coming years with the new labs. The 2006-08 expansion and renovation project tripled lab space with a 20-lab addition off the front of the Institute’s 1960 building.

The Live Learning Center – part of The Hormel Institute’s International Center of Research Technology created in 2008 – will serve as a place for the Institute’s cancer researchers to meet and learn in a more ideal setting. It also will enable the Institute to host international research symposiums, drawing more visitors to Austin annually.

Technology in the auditorium will greatly ease the process of collaborating and presenting research to other scientists around the world without having to spend the money and take the time to travel. It also will enable the Institute to reach larger audiences.

Dong expressed deep gratitude to The Hormel Foundation and the other donors for their support of the Live Learning Center and emphasized the project, with the ongoing expansion, will further enhance the state’s position as a global leader in bioscience.

“This project will bring scientists from around the world to Austin to share groundbreaking research related to cancer and other diseases,” Dong said. “Discoveries will be accelerated through collaborations made possible by the new Live Learning Center.”

Dr. Webster Cavenee, Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in San Diego, was visiting The Hormel Institute today to hear presentations from its researchers as well as give a seminar on his own work. Cavenee, a professor in the University of California-San Diego’s Cancer Biology Program, is one of numerous leading researchers who visit the Institute annually and could share their presentations with a larger audience beyond the Institute through the new Live Learning Center.

With the new technology, researchers in the auditorium will be able to participate in presentations and discussions with other scientists from anywhere around the world. The Hormel Institute’s researchers have many collaborations throughout the United States as well as with scientists in numerous other countries.

With the new Live Learning Center, the Austin community and region also will have a special venue for various uses, including public presentations and special group events arranged by the Austin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. The new facilities will add to Austin’s list of high-quality accommodations to attract groups to the community, helping with the local economy.

Tax-deductible gifts may be made to “The Hormel Foundation” in support of The Hormel Institute’s Live Learning Center and a receipt will be provided for your charitable tax deduction. Donation cards are available at The Hormel Institute and The Hormel Foundation. Gifts can be sent to The Hormel Foundation, 329 North Main St., Suite 102L, Austin, MN, 55912. For more information, call 507-437-9604.