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After 3 years of sharing laboratory space with the students and instructors at Gloucester Biotechnology Academy at Blackburn Industrial Park, GMGI opened the world’s first research facility dedicated to marine genomics in October of 2018. Situated amongst historic boat yards, seafood distribution centers and iconic fishing vessels on Gloucester’s scenic inner harbor, GMGI’s nearly 6,000sq ft headquarters is home to all of the organizations research staff, and provides the space to conduct research with a goal of catalyzing the local economy and uncovering new opportunities in biotechnology, biomedicine and fisheries.

The laboratories within the institute are outfitted with specialized, state-of-the-art equipment allowing researchers to bring the highest level of genomic science to the study of marine life, including a Marine Life Research Lab that has an intricate, sea water facility that pumps water from the harbor into tanks home to sea urchins, lobsters, sponges and other specimens for ongoing research projects.

The institute was built by Windover Construction and made possible by a $2.7M grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Molecular Biology Lab

As the largest and most centralized lab in the institute, the Molecular Biology Lab is where the majority of hands-on laboratory experiments take place, with specialized tasks happening in other, smaller lab areas.  The Molecular Biology Lab supports desk space for GMGI’s research associates and lab technicians, and has designated bench space for up to 16 research staff – all with glorious views of Gloucester’s inner and outer harbor!

Cell Culture & Imaging Lab

The Cell Culture & Imaging Lab houses the Institute’s satellite cell culture space for performing routine cell culture and primary cell isolations. It includes low oxygen-enabled and low temperature-enabled incubators. The Imaging Lab’s main feature is an Olympus IX83 inverted fluorescence microscope equipped with a motorized stage. This system allows for high quality fluorescence and bright field imaging and video capture of cells, tissues and small organisms.

Sequencing Lab

The Sequencing Lab is the heart of the Institute, and contains two high-throughput next generation sequencers: the Illumina NextSeq 550 System, specializing in whole genome and transcriptome sequencing and the Illumina MiSeq System, best for targeted amplicon metagenomics and small genome projects.  In 2018, GMGI added an automated liquid handling station (aka a robot), with ability to perform a variety of laboratory tasks including steps from extracting DNA to prepping samples for sequencing, allowing for greater accuracy and increased productivity.  The Sequencing Lab is also home to the real-time PCR system used for sample preparation for sequencing and fluorescent detection of target nucleotides from environmental samples, and a hood for clean laboratory processing.

Reagent Lab

All chemicals and solutions needed for experiments are stored in this lab.  The Reagent Room contains two fume hoods, which protect research staff when their work necessitates the use of hazardous vapors, dusts, gases, and fumes.  The room’s dual function is as a water filtration lab, home to the vacuum manifold used for filtering environmental water samples.

Equipment Passage

Situated in between the Molecular Biology Lab and the Marine Life Research Lab, the Equipment Passage is home to the -20°C, -80°C and liquid nitrogen freezers that are used to store temperature-sensitive reagents, enzymes, DNA, RNA, or biological samples. The autoclave, which uses high temperature and pressure to steam sterilize glassware, plastics, equipment, and solutions used in laboratory processing also lives in this space.

Marine Life Research Lab

GMGI’s Marine Life Research Lab, or “Tank Room”, is a custom-built seawater facility that sets us apart from other marine research institutes, and is the first of its kind on the North Shore. Utilizing intricate, state-of-the-art plumbing and engineering, researchers have the ability to pump in and control the usage of seawater in 20-gallon aquaria. Separated into six-tank blocks, each section allows for temperature control for rigorous and precise experimental conditions. These tanks can serve as short or long-term homes for marine organisms like sea urchins, lobster or other locally sampled flora or fauna.

Microbe Lab

The Microbe Lab is a biosafety level 2 laboratory which is equipped to help us safely isolate microbial organisms from the marine environment. We have growth chambers where we can control both temperature and light in order to grow these microbial organisms, including novel and important bacteria as well as phytoplankton. All isolated microbial organisms are cryopreserved and documented in our Microbe Repository. Even though these cultures are coming from marine environments, utmost care must be taken when working with any unknown organism. For this reason, the room is equipped with a Class II / A2 biosafety cabinet.