UMaine’s new Institute of Medicine provides foundation for collaborative advancement in health care in Maine and beyond

A new Institute of Medicine at the University of Maine will coordinate and support the research and public outreach efforts of some of the state’s leading experts whose research and scholarly work at UMaine advances rural health care, diagnostic medicine, immune system diseases and disorders, and medical humanities.

The newly formed institute will serve as a bridge connecting the health care community with the university, and in doing so, it will provide guidance related to medical research, medical device development, rural health care and outreach, community engagement and workforce development. 

By bringing together ideas from the state’s research university and health care providers, it is expected that new strategies for therapeutics, medical devices, rural outreach and counseling will be developed, having significant positive impact on health care for people in Maine, says David Harder, institute director and research professor of medicine, who joined the university in 2019.

Through the institute, new initiatives and partnerships will benefit the state and beyond. A joint sponsorship with the Center on Aging to host weekly health chats geared for Maine’s elder population will discuss topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthy living and other health-related issues. The institute provides the structure for over 100 faculty engaged in biological and medical research, biomedical engineering, food science/nutrition, clinical psychology, social sciences and nursing to interact, share resources and develop joint programs. Moreover, the development of a formal research agreement between UMaine and Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center involves the creation of a joint study on genetic mechanisms related to chronic kidney disease in Maine’s rural populations.

The institute is built on a foundation established by the UMaine Medicine initiative launched in fall 2018. The initiative supported and coordinated the growth and development of research and scholarly activity in health and life sciences, and helped advance related community outreach and engagement efforts.

The initiative also included some of the state’s strongest university-based health care programs, including UMaine’s Center on Aging; and Maine’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service, based on the Orono campus.

Today, the institute includes a community of collaborating interdisciplinary researchers and educators who, in partnership with health care providers and other stakeholders, are dedicated to discovery and learning in health and life sciences, and health care workforce development.

The institute is working closely with the UMaine and University of Maine System researchers, as well as medical professionals in institutions statewide to develop transformative solutions that enhance human health and well-being. Planned collaborations include biomedical scientists, social scientists and physicians with Northern Light Health, St. Joseph Healthcare, Penobscot Community Health Care, MDI Biological Laboratory, The Jackson Laboratory, and Maine Medical Center Research Institute.

The innovative and coordinated research and scholarly activity, education, in conjunction with strategic partnerships will advance a national model for rural medicine, Harder says. Moreover, the institute’s vision and mission align well with the University of Maine System Research and Development Plan.

State flagship universities have a responsibility to be primary social and economic drivers, says Kody Varahramyan, UMaine vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School. UMaine Medicine was created in 2018 to help UMaine become a leader in health care and related economic growth in Maine, with specific focus on rural sectors. Now the Institute of Medicine will continue and intensify these efforts.

Contact: Cecile Ferguson,; 207.581.3026