Representatives from Mohawk Valley Health System and the Masonic Medical Research Lab have signed a memorandum of understanding.

Officials say it's the first step in exploring an expanded partnership between the two organizations.  The ultimate goal of the MOU would be for the Masonic Lab to locate a portion of their research facility in the new downtown Utica hospital.

David Schneeweis, President of the MMRL Board of Directors, says they're thrilled about the potential of this "once in a generation opportunity" for collaboration between two nationally recognized institutions.

Scott Perra, President and CEO of Mohawk Valley Health System, says the signing of the memorandum continues work toward their mission of providing excellence in healthcare for the community.

As the MVHS hospital project moves forward, the two sides will work to finalize the details of the MOU, with a more formal agreement expected in the coming months.

Jim Rondenelli, WIBX