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Marine Genomics

Center of Economic Excellence



Award Amount

$4 million

External Funding Above Match

$9.5 Million

Research Focus

Monitoring and predicting the impact of environmental changes on marine biosystems, which can, in turn, affect human health. Specifica areas of study include environmental causation in wildlife, human disease and suscetibility, and mapping variability in genomes and populations; as well as research of shark and ray species.

University Partner

Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)
College of Charleston
University of South Carolina

Private Sector Partners

Hollings Marine Laboratory and Other Industry Partners

The Marine Genomics Center researches marine functional genomics and bioinformatics, which include analyzing physiological adjustments in animal and plant genetics that result from environmental changes. Genomics technology is an important tool for the South Carolina oyster and shrimp industries.

The Center’s investors and collaborators include Hollings Marine Laboratory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. In 2008, the Hollings Marine Lab completed a 16,000-square-foot expansion, dedicating 2,000 square feet to the Center for research.

This Center sells diagnostic gene chips to the International Oyster Microarray consortium on a cost-recovery basis, raising the profile of the marine genomics group in the international community. As an international leader in this field, the Center has established the world’s only data- and tools-based marine genomics website. In 2007, the Center generated intellectual property based on a major discovery, with viable commercial possibilities, relating to RNA and viral infections in shrimp.

The Center has partnered with two private companies, Shrimp Improvement Systems and Biogenmar, and is negotiating a formal relationship with a third company, Martek, to test the antiviral effect of algae incorporated in shrimp diets. MUSC is also negotiating a Materials Transfer Agreement with Mt. Sinai Hospital (NYC), which uses shrimp clones to study immune mechanisms in humans.

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