For almost 400 years the ocean has been the lifeblood of the Gloucester community. With its incredible maritime history and infrastructure, Gloucester is the ideal location to develop the next generation of maritime innovation and commerce. At GMGI we are looking to the future by applying innovative genomic technologies to marine science for discoveries that impact fisheries and human health.
As the largest reservoir of biodiversity on the planet, the oceans are home to millions of species of plants, animals and microbes. Genomics, the study of the genetic material of living organisms, has the power to unlock the secrets of the ocean’s vast biodiversity and offers new opportunities for the sustainable use of its resources. GMGI’s science strategy is based on an underlying platform of advanced genomic technologies to support new discoveries in two main program areas: Biomedicine & Biotechnology and Fisheries.
Biomedicine and Biotechnology Program
Marine organisms provide a tremendous opportunity for new discovery with the potential to directly impact human health. The unique adaptations of marine organisms have made them valuable models for biomedical research and have provided a source of new medicines for human disease. There are currently nine FDA-approved marine-derived drugs on the market for indications such as cancer, pain and infectious disease, and research using marine animals has resulted in six Nobel Prizes. Modern genomic techniques provide a cost-effective and sustainable approach to accelerate the discovery of therapeutically important molecules and to advance marine animals for biomedical research. At GMGI, we are using a genome mining approach to explore the biological and chemical diversity of marine organisms for the discovery of new therapeutics for human disease and new tools for biotechnology research. We are also developing genomic tools for marine animal models with an initial focus on long-lived, disease resistant marine organisms.
Advances in genome-wide analysis are enabling new applications in fisheries. Genomic technologies can provide a detailed understanding of population structure, migration patterns and the genetic underpinnings of disease susceptibility. By sequencing the genomes of commercially important species such as cod and lobster, GMGI is enabling the development of high resolution tools for improved understanding of their population genetics. GMGI is also developing the next generation of tools for monitoring species distribution and abundance using environmental DNA (eDNA). As a marine organism interacts with its environment, DNA is shed into the surrounding seawater leaving a temporary, local genetic signature of the organism’s presence. This eDNA can be isolated directly from seawater to provide a non-invasive approach for monitoring species distribution and abundance. Disease can lead to devastating consequences for fisheries and GMGI will use genomic approaches to develop sensitive and cost-effective diagnostic tools for fish and shellfish disease.
Our science strategy outlines a plan to position GMGI as a leader in marine biotechnology by applying the most innovative molecular genomic tools for new discoveries that impact human health, biotechnology, and fisheries. In achieving our science goals, GMGI will create a cluster of marine biotechnology innovation and commercialization that provides a powerful economic driver for the Cape Ann Region.