SARANAC LAKE — Federal and state political leaders are pressuring a major science research center to stay here.
Sen. Charles Schumer said he called Trudeau Institute Director Dr. David L. Woodland, looking to link the research institute with clinical facilities elsewhere in New York.
Trudeau has undertaken a feasibility study reviewing a slate of options for growth and expansion.
Concerned that the renowned research facility may relocate, State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) met with officials at Trudeau two weeks ago, wrote to each member of its Board of Trustees and has brought the matter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's attention.
Little said Thursday that she understood the company had fielded offers to add clinical partners in the South.
"Trudeau would build a whole facility at another site in either North Carolina or Florida. They're talking about a separate building with space for entire research teams. I think there's an interest from some of the researchers to be close to a place where they can do clinical trials," Little said.
Trudeau has occupied a campus on Lower Saranac Lake since it opened in 1964, about 10 years after Trudeau Sanitarium closed.
The facility was built as an extension of the pursuit of immunological research begun in 1884 by Dr. Edward L. Trudeau, who searched to find a cure for tuberculosis.
SCHUMER WEIGHS IN
Schumer urged Trudeau to build from its home base.
"For 126 years, the Trudeau Institute has been a pioneer and leading research facility in the field of infectious diseases," he said in a statement.
"They've done research to help families avoid getting sick and to make our men and women serving in uniform safer — all while employing hundreds of New Yorkers.
"Trudeau has accomplished all of this from Saranac Lake, and I am committed to doing everything I can to keep this leading facility and economic engine right here in the Adirondacks."
Schumer Press Secretary Matt House told the Press-Republican Thursday that the call looked to connect Trudeau to in-state clinical research partners.
"Senator Schumer personally (offered) his assistance in connecting the Trudeau Institute with clinical research facilities in New York City and around the state to help the institute expand its reach and plan for the future."
In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Dr. Woodland said Trudeau's Board of Trustees would receive an initial briefing next week from the New England Consulting Group on its findings.
"We are looking forward to reviewing this long-range strategic plan and its insights and recommendations.
"After next week's briefing, Trudeau's leadership will extensively review the findings and deliberate on our best growth options.
"To be clear, there is no set time frame for a final decision by the board."
He said Trudeau is grateful for the outpouring of support from legislative and community leaders.
"We look forward to continuing these discussions and are very hopeful that we can find a way to advance our mission of improving human health while remaining in New York.
"As we have said, the final decision will take into full consideration the long history of the Trudeau Institute, the strong bond the institute has to the Adirondacks and the potential impact on members of the local community."
Little said that only the Trudeau Board can make the decision to stay here and grow here.
"The governor talked with Board Chairman Ben Brewster and got the impression that no decision was going to be made in January," she added.
"And he (Cuomo) took from the conversation that Brewster doesn't want to see Trudeau leave the Saranac Lake area, either."
Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau said federal support is the most crucial way to influence Trudeau.
"I'm sure Chuck Schumer has as much clout as any other person in the Senate for garnering federal funds."
With a budget of $17 million, Trudeau employs 134 people, including some 40 research doctors.
In November, Terry Gach, vice president of institutional advancement at Trudeau, indicated that expansion is needed in order for them to stay competitive.
The facility opened the new $10 million Stafford Wing last summer, funded, in part, with money from the National Institutes of Health.
Trudeau's location in the Adirondacks earned huge marks among peers last year when The Scientist magazine ranked Trudeau as the No. 1 workplace for post-doctoral researchers.
"Post-docs there attribute this accolade to the institute's specialized research focus on infectious and inflammatory diseases, collaboration between labs, and idyllic location on Saranac Lake in the heart of New York's Adirondack Mountains," the March 2010 article said.
"While the quality of science is what initially drew them to the Trudeau Institute, post-docs say it was the salary, low cost of living and lifestyle that finalized their decision."
E-mail Kim Smith Dedam at: firstname.lastname@example.org