Dr. Edison Liu’s Favorite Place

Bar Harbor Shore Path

Photograph by Benjamin Williamson

Dr. Edison Liu

Bar Harbor Shore Path

Their growth has been pretty astonishing, and quite frankly, just driving past the JAX campus and seeing how robust a presence it is in Bar Harbor is exciting.

— Guest Editor Sam Sifton

When Dr. Edison Liu arrived in Bar Harbor as the new president and CEO of Jackson Laboratory in 2012, the world-renowned biomedical research institution was early into a decade of unprecedented growth. The lab had just inked a deal to build a $135 million research center in Connecticut and was expanding its facilities in California. The international market for laboratory mice was booming, even as the lab, long known for breeding them, was diversifying into human genomics and its clinical applications. Last year, JAX (as it’s known) announced a Shanghai office and a human-genomics lab in northwestern China. Closer to home, it opened a $200 million mouse-production facility in Ellsworth.

Sam Morse

Previous Homes
Singapore; Bethesda, Maryland; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; St. Louis, Missouri; San Franciso Bay area, California.

Favorite Place to Eat
Congress Street and the Old Port in Portland, where he and his wife like to wander and try new restaurants.

Recent Memorable Meals
At Pai Men Miyake (Japanese ramen bar) and Emilitsa (traditional Greek)

“If you average all the different sectors, our growth in the last 10 years has been 9.5 percent per year,” Liu marvels. “For a not-for-profit that hasn’t received a major donation, it’s quite remarkable.”

Still, Liu says, “the mothership” is in Bar Harbor, where JAX was founded in 1929 and where some 1,500 employees report each day, a literal stone’s throw from Acadia National Park. Bar Harbor is also Liu’s home, where he recharges from a sometimes grueling travel schedule. And while he prefers passing time at his piano to hiking in the park (“I’m not really a rugged Paul Bunyan type,” he says), he never tires of his morning walk along the Bar Harbor Shore Path, the ¾-mile trail that winds past his back door.

“One could argue that this short path could grow monotonous,” the 67-year-old MD says, “but I’ve never found that. I enjoy it like one of those Monets of Rouen Cathedral, painted in different times of day and seasons.”

Last August, Liu had quadruple bypass surgery. He’s doing great, but the recovery was slow, and all throughout, he and his wife took regular walks along the Shore Path. “All of a sudden, that walk had a very different meaning,” he says. “It was a bit of a lifeline, a coming back — like the astronaut being in outer space, then landing on Earth again.” These days, Liu often sits on the rocks and looks out at Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands. “Of course, other places around Acadia are spectacular,” he says, “but this spot is a little like a security blanket — it’s used and worn, and there are probably prettier spots, but it just becomes a sort of pacifier.”


Brian Kevin

Brian Kevin is Down East's editor in chief.