© Dave Stotzer, Cape Ann Photography


GMGI and Friends Cut The Ribbon at 417 Main Street Headquarters

It was a joyful day on October 30 as more than 100 people gathered under the tent at 417 Main Street to cut the ribbon on a building dreamed about for 5 years -- now perched on the water’s edge of Gloucester’s inner harbor. With Steve Connolly’s located to the left, Rose Marine to the right, the State Fish Pier across the water and The Crow’s Nest a block away – Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute is purposefully weaving itself into the city’s fabric.

GMGI’s corporate headquarters and research laboratories occupy 6,000 sf of this spectacular space, made possible by a Mass Life Sciences Center grant that financed the project and Windover Construction who built it. The research laboratories are outfitted with the specialized, state of the art equipment needed to bring genomics science to the study of marine life -- including a tank room that provides ocean water to the housed specimens.

© Kim Smith Photography

Sean Horgan, who has been tracking the project since before the groundbreaking, captured the excitement of the ribbon cutting and the meaning of this milestone in his Gloucester Daily Times article:

“The future, in all its tantalizing possibility, came calling Tuesday along the city's Inner Harbor, as the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute formally opened its new research facility on the nation's most historic waterfront.

The celebratory event, which drew Gov. Charlie Baker and a wide swath of state and local officials, was the final punctuation in GMGI's long-standing pledge to carve out a Gloucester waterfront facility to produce world-class marine genomics science and biotechnology research.

But more than that, the research facility, with its staggering array of state-of-the-art technology and an end-to-end view of the harbor's working North Channel, offers the first true sense of Gloucester's transformation into a sustainable fishing-rich community with its boots firmly planted in the 21st century.

And perhaps, if the stars align, the GMGI research facility could provide the first spoke of a true biotech hub in Gloucester and a standing element in the region's much coveted "blue economy," Baker said.

"There is no question that the water, the ocean and marine science runs through the veins and DNA of the people in this community," Baker told the more than 100 assembled guests in a large tent erected in the facility parking lot, with the Everett R. Jodrey State Pier across the water as a backdrop. "We see this as an opportunity to turbocharge the whole direction of the conversation marine science is heading in. We try to help communities build on their strengths. This is a perfect project for this community."

The research facility is the newest element in the GMGI constellation, joining its Gloucester Biotechnology Academy that opened in 2016 at 55 Great Republic Drive in the Blackburn Industrial Park.

The academy has graduated two classes of students into the biotech workforce and is in the midst of matriculating its Class of 2019 — many of its members were at Tuesday's event, decked out in their white lab coats.

"I think it's just amazing what we've accomplished in the past five years," GMGI Chairwoman Michelle May said Tuesday as she stood outside one the facility's imaging labs. "But I really like to look forward and I'm really excited by the possibilities. I think the research that will come out of here will be groundbreaking and, more importantly, beneficial to human health. It will be important science that helps humanity."

GMGI occupies about 6,000 square feet throughout the entire ground floor of the two-story, 18,500 square-foot facility built by Windover Construction at the 417 Main St. site. The site is owned by entrepreneur Sheree Zizik — one of GMGI's four founders — and New Balance Chairman James Davis through their Back Shore LLC real estate company.

The facility, significantly supported by a $2.7 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Science Center, features a series of laboratories, including a bioformatics lab, a microbe lab, a marine life research room, a DNA sequencing lab with two sequencers and a robot, an imaging lab and a molecular biology lab.

"This really is the beginning of marine research on Gloucester Harbor," said David R. Walt, another GMGI founder, as well as the scientific founder of Illumina Inc., a world leader in genomics analysis. He also serves on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.

The building also includes freezers for storing samples, conference rooms and administrative work stations. The walls are full of huge, wildly colorful fish-themed pieces on loan from local artists Paul Cary Goldberg and Jon Sarkin.

"We have amazing capabilities to do really important work here," said Andrea Bodnar, GMGI's science director. "We're all very excited to get started."

The facility supports six marine science researchers and a four-person administrative staff. Bodnar said GMGI envisions a staff of 20 — including 15 researchers — by 2020.

"This one of the most extraordinary facilities in marine science, one that presents an extraordinary opportunity to bring together big data and align it with science," said Travis McCready, president and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Life Science Center. "Very rarely do we have so much community-based involvement in one of our life science projects. You're hitting all the high notes here. You should be very proud."

Article by Sean Horgan, Gloucester Daily Times. You can find the link to this article here.

© Kim Smith Photography

The Gratitude List is Long

Five years in the making, the vision has materialized with the involvement of many people, teams, and organizations.

With deep gratitude we acknowledge: Mass Life Sciences Center for awarding a capital grant to fund the customized build-out for the GMGI space and purchase the capital research equipment; Sheree Zizik and Jim Davis of Back Shore LLC for the development of the site and construction of the building; Anthony Mongone and Laurie Nelson and the Ropes & Gray legal team for lease negotiations; Greg McIntosh of Lincoln Architects LLC for final design plans; Payette Architects George Marsh and Mike Lee for the design of GMGI’s laboratory space; Richard Galet of TAG Engineering for the design of the tank room and ocean water plumbing infrastructure; and Peter Gourdeau and Lee Dellicker from Windover Construction for all construction and construction management.

Local and state officials were supportive of the project -- including Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Representative Ferrante, and Senator Tarr. State agencies Division of Marine Fisheries and Massachusetts Technology Collaborative supplied early funding of the organization The Annisquam Field Station of DMF collected our cod specimens which will be housed at 417 Main.

The GMGI Board of Directors maintained strong support for the project through the critical decision points, with efforts led by board members Bill Kane. We are grateful to John Bell for all of his community support. GMGI thanks local funders such as Applied Materials, New England BioLabs, Tower Foundation, Dusky Foundation, Maggie and Joe Rosa, and numerous private philanthropists.

The GMGI staff put in the long hours needed to carefully think through, specify and execute every detail required for a world class research facility.

Finally, we thank the Gloucester community for welcoming us to the waterfront – we look forward to creating a new maritime chapter together, extending Gloucester’s ocean lore for centuries to come.

©Dave Stotzer, Cape Ann Photography

Our mission is to conduct world-class marine biotechnology research which expands the regional economy.

Gloucester Marine
Genomics Institute

417 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

Follow UsConnect with us!

Contact Us