Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute: Helping Our Environment & Economy 

August 31, 2021 12:52 pm

We can all learn quite a great deal for the marine world around us. From how we age to how we are impacted by global climate change, the world’s ocean’s can help us understand our own unique biodiversity. In a recent radio interview on North Shore Conversations on 104.9, North Shore Alliance had the opportunity to speak with Chris Bolzan, Executive Director of Gloucester Maritime Genomics Institute (GMGI). She took some time to explain the current projects, research, and economic impact the Institute is having on the North Shore of Massachusetts.  

Gloucester Marine Genomic Institute

What is the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute? 

The Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute is the world’s first research institute that is dedicated entirely to marine genomics. 

Let’s start by explaining a little about genomics and then how it relates to the marine world that is all along our beautiful coastline. 

Genomics is the branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of genomes, which are an organism’s complete set of DNA. After the successful Human Genome Project, that lasted from the 1990s to 2003, the complete genetic blueprint for building a human being was possible. That research made genome sequencing for other species, such as marine life, possible at a lower cost. 

In the case of marine genomics, the GMGI has combined the field of marine science with genomic sequencing to unlock the secrets of the ocean’s vast biodiversity. 

This ability to study marine creatures has allowed scientists to begin to understand marine resources and how to maintain sustainability for years to come.


The 3 Pronged Approach 

GMGI takes a three pronged approach in their work to understand marine life and its impact on our world. 

The Institute focuses on three areas: research, including advanced molecular biology to understand marine and human health; education, a vibrant learning environment where North Shore young adults can study through the Gloucester Biotechnology Academy and STEM workshops; and the science community, where local science groups hope to attract companies and organizations that are dedicated to the life sciences and biotech fields. 

Areas of Research 

The Institute was founded by local leaders in the wake of the declining fishing industry in hopes of understanding the marine world and its impact on human life. Within the area of the Biotechnology Certificate Program there are several areas of current study that we believe many people may be interested in learning more about. 

  • Understanding Sea Urchins as a model for human aging and disease onset. What can we learn from these creatures that live long, healthy lives devoid of common aging illnesses that humans experience?
  • Analyzing the local Atlantic Cod population using DNA to understand how ocean water plays a key role in each of the critical life stages. 
  • Cracking the genome of the American Lobster. 

How GMGI Is Impacting the Economy of the North Shore 

Programs like the Institute in Gloucester are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to economic development of jobs along the North Shore. 

Not only do the academic programs provide more than 40+ students access to entry level lab positions across the North Shore and internships in some of the top biotech firms in Cambridge and Boston, but they also attract expanding biotech and life science firms to consider the North Shore as their headquarters. 

Additionally, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently announced a $1 million grant for the Academy program to complete a biotech learning program. This enabled GMGI to expand their classrooms from 22 students to 40+ in the education programs. 

The GMGI graduates defy typical vocational programs for readiness and employability. This particular program attracts other firms in the field to consider Gloucester and surrounding communities for expansion of their organizations. 

To learn more about the GMGI, check out their research, education, and science community through their media releases and news articles here.

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