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Rare biorepository finds new home at Marine Science Center

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.

Northeastern University's Marine Science Center in Nahant, Mass. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center is located in Nahant, Mass. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

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.”