World-class research institute integrates scientific discovery and workforce development to bring biotech hub to Cape Ann
Gloucester – October 30, 2018 – Today, Governor Charlie Baker joined Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute (GMGI) officials, Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, and state and local leaders, to celebrate the ribbon cutting of GMGI’s new facility located on Gloucester’s inner harbor to advance marine biotechnology research and expand the regional economy. This is the world’s first dedicated marine genomics research institute.
The construction of the world-class genomics research institute was made possible by a $2.7 million capital grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) to help build and equip the 6,000 square-foot research institute and lab. The facility integrates the dynamic components of scientific discovery and workforce development, emboldening GMGI and its partners to bring a biotech hub to Cape Ann. The facility will serve as a center for genetic research grounded in marine organisms, with applications that include commercial fishing and human health.
“Our Administration is committed to investing in the Massachusetts innovation economy, supporting game-changing technological research and creating jobs in every zip code across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This new facility will position GMGI as a leader in marine biotechnology by applying the most innovative tools for new discoveries that impact human health, biotechnology and fisheries and we are pleased that it will serve as a hub here on Cape Ann.”
“Massachusetts coastal communities are resilient and forward-looking, and the Commonwealth’s life sciences ecosystem is one of the most dynamic in the world,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Gloucester and the GMGI reflect the success created when Massachusetts’ coastal talent and assets converge and propel critical sectors of our economy, and we are proud to support this new facility.”
The two-story facility will feature research laboratories, outfitted with the specialized, state-of-the-art equipment needed to bring genomics science to the study of marine life, including a tank room housing 18 unique aquaria and a molecular genomics lab where all of the bench work for molecular biology and genomic applications will take place utilizing a liquid handling robot and multiple platforms for high-throughput genomics and genotyping.
“The Baker-Polito Administration has made strategic economic development investments that have enabled life sciences to evolve from an emerging sector to an established global leader,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “By continuing to support innovative research and ensuring our workforce has the best training and equipment, we will maintain the vitality and competiveness of an industry that continues to create great jobs for our people and positively impact society.”
“This state-of-the-art institute represents the promise of new jobs and groundbreaking marine biotechnology research, sparking innovation in the heart of one of the Commonwealth’s most historic maritime communities,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. “This project fits our Administration’s approach to capital investments, which prioritizes programs and initiatives that promise a strong return on the Commonwealth’s investment over the long term.”
“Gloucester is uniquely located and our partners at GMGI are well positioned to help usher in the next generation of maritime innovation and research,” said MLSC President & CEO Travis McCready. “We are committed to supporting our Commonwealth’s leadership in the life sciences, the blue economy, marine research, and the intersection of technology and science to lead to continued discovery that positively impacts human health.”
“The mission of Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute is to catalyze the Cape Ann economy by bringing science to the region in a meaningful way,” said GMGI Board Chair Michele May. “We believe the ocean represents a new source of opportunity and we will realize much of that in our new research facility on Gloucester’s historic waterfront. We are so grateful to MLSC for helping to make this happen.”
“Thanks to MLSC, this amazing research facility provides the perfect place to bring innovative genomic technologies to the ocean for discoveries that impact fisheries and human health,” said Andrea Bodnar, Ph.D., who serves as GMGI’s Science Director.
GMGI researchers are committed to developing science programs with a primary focus on translational research that connects to human health, as well as, projects that bring the best science to fishery research. The new facility will expand research efforts and empower GMGI’s team of scientists to form collaborations with marine and biotechnology institutes around the globe.
At the time of the announcement of the capital grant funding for GMGI, Governor Baker also announced more than $260,000 in grant funding, through the MLSC’s STEM Equipment & Supplies program, for the North Shore middle and high schools, which included $109,154 for Gloucester High School and $56,933 for the O’Malley Innovation Middle School. GMGI also recently welcomed the latest class of students to take part in the Gloucester Biotechnology Academy, which provides a nine-month experiential program of hands-on lab training in cutting-edge research techniques and core biotechnology competencies.
“The construction of a world class genomics research institute alongside the commercial fishing industry on our working waterfront is an example of how we can work together to keep our harbor economy strong. This is exactly what I envisioned when I voted for the Harbor Plan in 2014. GMGI is also a proven partner to the City of Gloucester as demonstrated by their commitment to our schools and to workforce development. Thank you to the Baker-Polito Administration and MLSC for their support of this project and for helping us put Gloucester at the forefront of marine related research and innovation,” said Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken.
The FY2019 state budget included $150,000 to fund a new fishery research program, managed by GMGI in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, which aims to develop new genomics tools for marine surveys and population assessments which should lead to better understandings of the structure and biology of fish populations and fisheries in the Gulf of Maine.
“The research performed at GMGI is not only important for what it will teach us about our precious marine resources, it will also be critical to informing sound strategic decisions about managing the fish stocks that support our commercial fishing industry, our economy, and our way of life,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.
“GMGI has the potential to anchor a marine research cluster with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration and the University of Massachusetts Marine Station, all located in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Moreover, I look forward to the research that GMGI will contribute to marine studies and life sciences. I congratulate the founders of GMGI on the realization of a 6 year dream! I am appreciative to be involved in this endeavor and thank my colleagues in state government for investing in this important project,” said Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante.
This past June, Governor Baker signed An Act providing continued investment in the life sciences industry in the Commonwealth to invest up to $623 million in bond authorization and tax credits over five years in education, research and development and workforce training. This legislation will serve to reinforce the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to ensuring Massachusetts’ leadership in the life sciences sector.
About the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute
Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute was founded in 2013 by three entrepreneurial scientists with legendary experience in genomics and biomedicine — David Walt, Greg Verdine, and Marc Vidal — along with local businesswoman Sheree Zizik. Today, GMGI is led and backed by leaders with decades of experience in genomics, biomedical research, pharmaceuticals and industry.
The overarching mission is ambitious but simple: to catalyze the local economy by bringing science to Cape Ann in a meaningful way. The founders identified three strategies to accomplish the mission:
- Establish a world-class marine biotechnology research institute whose work is powered by the scientific field of genomics;
- Develop a local biotechnology workforce through a vibrant science learning environment; and
- Promote the conditions that encourage the development of a science community on Cape Ann.
The development of this research institute and the move to 417 Main Street have been made possible by a $2.7 million capital grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.
About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is an economic development investment agency dedicated to supporting the growth and development of the life sciences in Massachusetts, home to the most verdant and productive life sciences ecosystem in the world. Through public-private funding initiatives, the MLSC supports innovation, research & development, commercialization, and manufacturing activities in the fields of biopharma, medical device, diagnostics, and digital health. Since its creation in 2007, the MLSC has strategically deployed over $700 million in Massachusetts, through a combination of grants, loans, capital infrastructure investments, tax incentives, and workforce programs. These investments have created thousands of jobs, and propelled the development of new therapies, devices, and scientific advancements that are improving patient health and well-being in Massachusetts and beyond. To learn more, visit masslifesciences.com.