Public Support Needed for The Hormel Institute’s MBiC Project as Minnesota’s 2024 Bonding Bill Decisions Loom

Austin, Minn. — As Minnesota’s 2024 legislative session nears its end, The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, awaits an answer for whether a requested $20M in funding from this year’s bonding bill will be approved to support its ongoing Minnesota BioImaging Center (MBiC) project. MBiC will expand the Institute’s state-of-the-art bioimaging capabilities, provide essential workforce training that is in high global demand, and offer unparalleled, statewide STEM education opportunities for students from K-12 up to the graduate level within a facility unlike anywhere else in the country—all from rural Austin, Minnesota.


One particular piece of equipment that will be installed later this year as part of the MBiC project at The Hormel Institute in Austin will be the first of its kind in North America, expanding the research facility’s capabilities to include tomography (cryoET). In 2016, The Hormel Institute was the seventh in the United States to obtain a Titan Krios Cryo Electron microscope (cryoEM), the Nobel-prize winning technology that helps advance the understanding of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, coronavirus and other viruses, prion diseases like chronic wasting disease, and more. 

In late April, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz visited The Hormel Institute to meet with local leaders and learn more about The Hormel Institute’s groundbreaking biomedical research progress, including with MBiC. Gov. Walz has been a strong advocate for The Hormel Institute, including by supporting its major expansions in 2008 and 2016 and securing over $2M for technology acquisitions when he was a U.S. representative.

Gov. Walz also shared he was moved by the educational opportunities that MBiC will offer: “Seeing that focus on children, and the focus on giving them opportunities, and putting them in lab coats in front of the world’s best equipment and talk[ing] to them ... It is not a cliche: they’re our future.”

“[This isn’t] just an Austin project. This is with Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota, and this is going to impact the state, the nation, and the world, because they are leading in cancer research and treatment,” said Senator Gene Dornink of MBiC in a press conference at the Minnesota State Capitol in April.

“We want to focus on the true meaning of what bonding is, which is our infrastructure, and then implications that are going to not only affect our state, but also us as a nation,” said Representative Patricia Mueller at the same press conference. “This type of project, this type of funding that would fund The Hormel Institute and the groundbreaking project that we’re talking about here is going to not only make us world leaders, but it’s going to be able to bring about medical advancements and medical research that is state of the art, that’s something that we will really be able to hang our hat on here in Austin, Minnesota.”

What The Hormel Institute’s cohort of world-class researchers and experts in these technologies hopes our state leaders and the public understand is that to secure Minnesota’s position as a national leader in biomedical research, the time to support MBiC is now.

“We need to move as quickly as we possibly can. These technologies move quickly. We’re at the forefront. We need to stay there,” said The Hormel Institute Executive Director Dr. Robert Clarke. “We don’t want to take a step back, and then try and play catch-up. We want to [stay] where we are and keep pushing forward.”

“We are proud to serve as the fiscal agent and host for this incredible project,” said Austin Port Authority President Jason Baskin in April. “We are in a race … when you think about the impact that [cancer] has on not only … individuals, but their families and loved ones, their friends, and the communities around us, you realize that we have to run even faster to find cures for cancer to save lives across the state, and ultimately, the country.”

Supporters can voice for support for MBiC in the 2024 state bonding bill (House Bill #HF566 and Senate Bill SF #SF452) to their state representatives and senators. You can find your legislators’ contact information by visiting the Minnesota State Legislature website.

More information about MBiC is available on The Hormel Institute’s website at