October 16, 2017

Q&A with Yu-Hui Rogers of Jackson Laboratory

Yu-Hui Rogers

The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine (JAX), a prominent symbol of Connecticut's investment in bioscience, has grown from a handful of employees in 2012 — including current site director Yu-Hui Rogers — to 300-plus today at its Farmington campus adjacent to UConn Health. Long term, JAX could employ 700 as it expands its research programs and operations, and overseeing it all is Rogers, responsible for managing the local administration and operations of the nonprofit biomedical research institution.

When Alexion Pharmaceuticals announced recently it's moving its headquarters from New Haven to Boston, one news report examining the bioscience industry's strides and stumbles noted fewer employees but more firms in Connecticut. It also suggested JAX regretted not locating in New Haven's bioscience cluster. We asked Rogers to weigh in and provide a glimpse into her and JAX's challenges and opportunities.

Does JAX regret locating in Farmington vs. New Haven?

We are delighted to be in Connecticut and proud that our scientists are engaged in collaborations with hospitals, universities and research centers across the state and world. We view the specific town we are located in as a non-issue. Connecticut can and should have many biomedical hubs working toward the same goal of making the state a biomedical powerhouse.

Does Alexion's announcement represent a setback to the state's bioscience industry?

It is important to keep in mind that there are significantly more biomedical organizations in Connecticut than ever before and we must help nurture their growth. Connecticut has highly skilled people, educational institutions training tomorrow's leaders, and organizations dedicated to collaboration and the success of the state's biomedical sector as a whole — factors crucial to the future of this industry.

What's the biggest challenge facing JAX in Farmington?

Supporting our rapid expansion while harnessing the enormous energy and innovative ideas JAX's great scientists bring.

What's the biggest opportunity facing JAX in Farmington?

Empowering our scientists to produce high-impact research that will lead to groundbreaking discoveries that benefit patients. And we're hoping to help put Connecticut on the map as an important center of biomedical research.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your job?

To recruit the world's top scientific talent — and I couldn't be prouder of all we have accomplished.

Tell us something about you many people don't know.

I was part of the team that completed the sequencing of the first human genome in 2001.

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