Genomics is a rapidly growing discipline and one of the cutting edges of biological research. It involves the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of all genes within an organism (also known as its genome). Understanding genes and their origins can clarify how living things adapt to changing environments and respond to disease. To determine which genes a certain organism may possess, the genes must be sequenced – a technology that continues to become incrementally less expensive and more accessible.
The Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute (GMGI) opened the world’s first research facility dedicated to marine genomics in Gloucester, Massachusettes late last month. Gloucester is a historically important seaport known for shipbuilding and fishing. As wild fish populations in the Atlantic Ocean have declined, regional fisheries operations have as well. Seated in the center of Cape Ann, the GMGI is close to biotechnology hubs in nearby Cambridge and Boston as well as ongoing fisheries enterprises that have long operated off the northeast coast of Massachusettes. Thus, the GMGI hopes to conduct marine genomics research that not only fulfills local economic needs by supporting fisheries science, but also by making advancements in biotechnology and biomedicine using marine organisms as models.