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Rare biorepository finds new home at Marine Science Center

by Northeastern News

Northeastern’s University’s Marine Sci­ence Center will soon house a tissue col­lec­tion from the world’s most rare, strange, and remark­able ocean crea­tures. Based on the part­ner­ship between North­eastern, Ocean Genome Legacy and New Eng­land Bio­labs, the uni­ver­sity will be home to the Ocean Genome Legacy Center of New Eng­land Bio­labs—a pub­licly acces­sible biorepos­i­tory of DNA sam­ples from ocean species.

Founded in 2001 by Dr. Donald Comb, OGL is a non­profit envi­ron­mental research orga­ni­za­tion and DNA bank ded­i­cated to pro­moting new methods for the study and con­ser­va­tion of marine species through preser­va­tion and analysis of their DNA.

The price­less col­lec­tion will move to the Marine Sci­ence Center, located in Nahant, Mass., later this year. It will con­tinue to be used to uncover some of our ocean’s deepest mys­teries and reveal genomic infor­ma­tion that can help cure dis­eases, pro­tect the envi­ron­ment, and improve the sus­tain­ability of global food and energy supplies.

A gen­erous multi-​​million dollar gift from New Eng­land Bio­labs and other pri­vate donors, as well as a com­mit­ment toward cre­ating a matching endow­ment, will enable oper­a­tions of OGL at the Marine Sci­ence Center to con­tinue and likely expand. A new lab to house the growing col­lec­tion will be built in the coming years.

“Global change is causing mas­sive bio­di­ver­sity loss in the oceans and we are thrilled to take respon­si­bility for this unique and impor­tant col­lec­tion,” said J. Murray Gibson, dean of North­eastern University’s Col­lege of Sci­ence. “The col­lec­tion becomes a focus for our research, edu­ca­tion, and out­reach, and through this part­ner­ship we aim to accel­erate the ful­fill­ment of the goal of OGL—to pre­serve DNA sam­ples from all the ocean’s species.”

Located 25 min­utes out­side of Boston, Northeastern’s Marine Sci­ence center offers fac­ulty and stu­dents a unique oppor­tu­nity to study the human impact on the urban coastal system. Marine sci­ence researchers are building global col­lab­o­ra­tions and con­ducting ground­breaking research in areas ranging from under­water robotics to the effects of cli­mate change on the globe’s coastlines.

North­eastern fac­ulty will uti­lize the Ocean Genome Resource Col­lec­tion to aid their genomic research. Stu­dents will con­tribute to the biorepos­i­tory through field col­lec­tion and expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties at the marine lab.

“This is a great oppor­tu­nity for OGL to join forces with North­eastern, a major research uni­ver­sity with a huge com­mit­ment to envi­ron­mental sus­tain­ability and edu­ca­tion,” Dan Distel, exec­u­tive director of OGL, said in a statement.

“The out­standing fac­ulty, stu­dents, and infra­struc­ture and the forward-​​looking phi­los­ophy of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity and the Marine Sci­ence Center pro­vide a growth oppor­tu­nity for OGL that would be hard to match any­where else.”

Originally published in news@Northeastern on August 6, 2013

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