GMGI Updates from the Harbor: April 2021

These monthly updates give us the opportunity to report on the wonderful progress being made across GMGI. We are grateful not only to have consistent and positive updates to share, but also for the engaged and supportive community that shares in our excitement. 

This month, you can read about: the stellar Class of 2021 as they continue their internships; the addition of a new team member who will lead the biomanufacturing curriculum in the soon-to-be-completed lab space at the Academy; details on an exciting research collaboration with a neighbor across the harbor; and a sneak peak of some good news to come on sequencing the lobster genome!

Please continue to send us your thoughts, comments and feedback – this communication is valued and appreciated by all of us.

Chris Bolzan
Executive Director

Photo credit: Ocean Alliance

Partnership with GMGI and Ocean Alliance Continues 
 For the past three years, GMGI has been partnering with Ocean Alliance to study whale microbiomes to better understand whale health. 

The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that reside on or within tissues and bodily fluids. It plays a very important role in health and disease. Like humans and other mammals, whales are susceptible to infections in their lungs. Understanding the prevalence and severity of such infections is key to assessing individual and population health — as well as developing informed management plans. Since we can’t bring a whale to the doctor’s office, one way to assess their health is to collect their exhaled breath condensate (or blow) and to look at their lung microbiome. 

Using Ocean Alliance’s non-invasive SnotBot® drone, we can safely and harmlessly collect a sample of whale blow. Extracting and sequencing the DNA in this sample provides a preview of the microorganisms inhabiting a whale’s respiratory tract, including those associated with a healthy microbiome and potential pathogens. Merging this with other visual markers of whale health, we are developing a means of remotely assessing the health of our most charismatic marine mammals. GMGI is excited to continue to expand this partnership. We look forward to another season of sampling with Ocean Alliance.

Introducing Stephen F. Anderson, the Academy’s Biomanufacturing Lead Teacher


We are thrilled to introduce Stephen F. Anderson, PhD as the newest member of the GMGI team. 

A protein chemist with over 20 years of industry experience and a strong teaching background, Dr. Anderson joins GMGI as Gloucester Biotechnology Academy’s Biomanufacturing Lead Teacher. He holds a B.S. in biochemistry from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University. Before getting started in Boston-area industry, he did postdoctoral work in mammalian transcription biology at Harvard Medical School. 

After decades of experience running core protein production and analytical labs in both startups and Big Pharma — as well as supporting projects from discovery to manufacturing — Steve is looking forward to getting back to his teaching roots. 

“Since leaving the academic track in 1999, I have missed the opportunities to make a difference in students’ lives,” Steve said. “I’m thrilled to have the chance to get back to it.” He sees a stark, but incredibly valuable, difference in the way Academy operates compared to the traditional college model. “In a university, the students spend years learning things they will never use in an entry-level position; this program gives students the basics and gets them into the workforce ASAP, benefitting them and their community.” 

With the construction of the Academy’s new biomanufacturing learning environment fully underway, the addition of Steve’s skillset comes at an optimal time. The incoming Class of 2022 will be the first cohort to utilize the new space, and they will have Steve’s experience and knowledge to optimize the hands-on curriculum. “I’ve built up a lot of experience in bioprocessing and I feel that the time has come to share it with a new generation,” he said. 

Welcome, Steve!

Steve can be reached at stephen.anderson@gmgi.org or 978.879.4575×112

Class of 2021 Internships

The Class of 2021 is in week eight of their internships – check out a few students in action, putting their newfound skills to use in the lab.

These monthly updates give us the opportunity to report on the wonderful progress being made across GMGI. We are grateful not only to have consistent and positive updates to share, but also for the engaged and supportive community that shares in our excitement. 

This month, you can read about: the stellar Class of 2021 as they continue their internships; the addition of a new team member who will lead the biomanufacturing curriculum in the soon-to-be-completed lab space at the Academy; details on an exciting research collaboration with a neighbor across the harbor; and a sneak peak of some good news to come on sequencing the lobster genome!

Please continue to send us your thoughts, comments and feedback – this communication is valued and appreciated by all of us.

Chris Bolzan
Executive Director
Photo credit: Ocean Alliance

Partnership with GMGI and Ocean Alliance Continues 
 For the past three years, GMGI has been partnering with Ocean Alliance to study whale microbiomes to better understand whale health. 

The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that reside on or within tissues and bodily fluids. It plays a very important role in health and disease. Like humans and other mammals, whales are susceptible to infections in their lungs. Understanding the prevalence and severity of such infections is key to assessing individual and population health — as well as developing informed management plans. Since we can’t bring a whale to the doctor’s office, one way to assess their health is to collect their exhaled breath condensate (or blow) and to look at their lung microbiome. 

Using Ocean Alliance’s non-invasive SnotBot® drone, we can safely and harmlessly collect a sample of whale blow. Extracting and sequencing the DNA in this sample provides a preview of the microorganisms inhabiting a whale’s respiratory tract, including those associated with a healthy microbiome and potential pathogens. Merging this with other visual markers of whale health, we are developing a means of remotely assessing the health of our most charismatic marine mammals. GMGI is excited to continue to expand this partnership. We look forward to another season of sampling with Ocean Alliance.Introducing Stephen F. Anderson, the Academy’s Biomanufacturing Lead Teacher

We are thrilled to introduce Stephen F. Anderson, PhD as the newest member of the GMGI team. 

A protein chemist with over 20 years of industry experience and a strong teaching background, Dr. Anderson joins GMGI as Gloucester Biotechnology Academy’s Biomanufacturing Lead Teacher. He holds a B.S. in biochemistry from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University. Before getting started in Boston-area industry, he did postdoctoral work in mammalian transcription biology at Harvard Medical School. 

After decades of experience running core protein production and analytical labs in both startups and Big Pharma — as well as supporting projects from discovery to manufacturing — Steve is looking forward to getting back to his teaching roots. 

“Since leaving the academic track in 1999, I have missed the opportunities to make a difference in students’ lives,” Steve said. “I’m thrilled to have the chance to get back to it.” He sees a stark, but incredibly valuable, difference in the way Academy operates compared to the traditional college model. “In a university, the students spend years learning things they will never use in an entry-level position; this program gives students the basics and gets them into the workforce ASAP, benefitting them and their community.” 

With the construction of the Academy’s new biomanufacturing learning environment fully underway, the addition of Steve’s skillset comes at an optimal time. The incoming Class of 2022 will be the first cohort to utilize the new space, and they will have Steve’s experience and knowledge to optimize the hands-on curriculum. “I’ve built up a lot of experience in bioprocessing and I feel that the time has come to share it with a new generation,” he said. 

Welcome, Steve!

Steve can be reached at stephen.anderson@gmgi.org or 978.879.4575×112Class of 2021 Internships

The Class of 2021 is in week eight of their internships – check out a few students in action, putting their newfound skills to use in the lab.



GMGI Science Hour Talks Continue with Dr. Nadia Rosenthal
Register now! On May 13th, Nadia Rosenthal, PhD delivers our final Science Hour before a short summer hiatus. 

Dr. Rosenthal is the Scientific Director of The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor (ME), whose research focuses on regenerative medicine. She has recently begun a new program to develop animal models of COVID-19 through humanizing JAX’s genetically diverse mouse strains to reflect different patient responses to the virus. Dr. Rosenthal’s talk “Exploring COVID-19 host genetics with mice” is on Thursday, May 13th at 7:30p on Zoom. Click here to register. 

Please visit the Science Hour page on our website to learn more about speakers and watch past talks, and reach out to Ashley Destino at ashley.destino@gmgi.org with any questions.


Photos from the Field

GMGI Researcher Dylan Comb collects samples in Ipswich for an ongoing research project focusing on soft-shell clams. 


Enrolling now: SummerSTEM and Academy Class of 2022
 GMGI is currently enrolling for BOTH of our Education programs — the Biotechnology Certificate Program and our SummerSTEM program. If you are interested in joining our Class of 2022, please visit our website to learn more about how to apply. If you know a middle or high school student who would be interested in participating in our week-long SummerSTEM program, please click here to learn more about this exciting summer opportunity


The GMGI Science Minute

Have you ever wondered what means to ‘sequence a genome’? GMGI Senior Research Associate Jennifer Polinski has been hard at work for the past few years creating the reference genome for the American Lobster, and is here to explain how it’s done.  

Killer Snails and the Power of Venom on The GMGI Science Hour

CUNY Graduate Center

This Thursday, April 29th, Dr. Mandë Holford joins the GMGI Science Hour to talk about her fascinating research on the power of venom. Dr. Holford and her team are working to harness the incredible power of venom into safe, effective drug therapies that benefit human health. 

Want a preview of the talk, and what you can expect to learn? Check out our Science Hour Warm Up. Don’t miss it! Join us on Thursday, April 29th! Register here.

The GMGI Science Hour with Aquanaut Dr. Shirley Pomponi: Thursday, March 4th at 7:30pm

Please join us via Zoom this Thursday, March 4th to hear from Dr. Shirley Pomponi, research professor, ocean explorer, and part-time aquanaut, as she describes her experience living in the underwater laboratory Aquarius for nine days in 2019. Dr. Pomponi was selected to participate in one of NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO), testing out techniques and protocols for future space missions.

You can read about Dr. Pomponi and what you can expect from her fascinating talk on our website, and can register for the talk here.

Please reach out to Ashley Destino at ashley.destino@gmgi.org with any questions.

Today begins our new #TourTuesday series, where you’ll get a glimpse inside GMGI’s state-of-the-art research institute each Tuesday for the next few weeks

Today begins our new #TourTuesday series, where you’ll get a glimpse inside GMGI’s state-of-the-art research institute each Tuesday for the next few weeks. Let’s get started!

Some background: Affectionately known amongst staff as ‘417 Main’, the nearly 6,000sq ft space first opened in October of 2018 and is home to all of GMGI’s research and administration staff. The institute was built by @windover_construction and was made possible through a $2.7M grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

First up, the largest and most centralized lab in the institute, the Molecular Biology Lab. This is where the majority of hands-on laboratory experiments take place, with specialized tasks happening in other, smaller lab areas. (You’ll see those in the coming weeks!) 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 incredible views of Gloucester’s inner and outer harbor!

Gloucester Biotechnology Academy Now Accepting Applications

The Gloucester Biotechnology Academy is now accepting applications for the Class of 2022! The Academy, located in Blackburn Industrial Park, provides high school graduates with the training needed to begin a career in biotech. This innovative program pairs ten months of hands-on training in a state-of-the-art teaching lab with a paid, three-month internship at a biotech company or research institute in Boston, Cambridge or the North Shore.

Are you – or know someone who might be – interested in learning more? Visit our website or contact Education Director Dr. John Doyle at john.doyle@gmgi.org for more information.

Thursday 1/21: Virtual GMGI Science Hour with OceanX Vice Chairman, Dr. Vincent Pieribone

GMGI’s free, virtual lecture series The GMGI Science Hour returns for the new year, and we are thrilled to kick off 2021 with Dr. Vincent Pieribone, Vice Chairman of OceanX

Please join us on Thursday, January 21st at 7:30pm via Zoom to hear Dr. Pieribone discuss the fascinating adventures of OceanX and what it means for the future of Ocean Science. Registration is required — register today! A live Q&A session will be held after Dr. Pieribone’s talk, and will be moderated by GMGI’s Donald G. Comb Science Director, Dr. Andrea Bodnar.

You can register here, as well as view previous Science hour talks on our website. Please reach out to ashley.destino@gmgi.org with any questions.

Registration link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6M2c4LDtRL2B5BrvGfGmiQ

On The Waterfront with GMGI: November Updates

2020 will be remembered as the year that saw a complete upheaval of daily life. Everyone needed to pivot and adjust — quickly — to a new normal.  

Here at GMGI, it was no exception. With the stay-at-home order implemented in the Spring, our research team lost valuable time in the Institute’s laboratories. Our Academy internships were cut short due to closings, and the graduation was both delayed and scaled down. 

Despite these obstacles and disappointments, the past eleven months have produced some incredible outcomes.

•    The Academy graduated its fourth class (with an impressive 78% graduation rate) and enrolled a full fifth class, which has maintained in-person learning without any positive COVID-19 cases to date.
•    We began the expansion of our Academy to create a new biomanufacturing learning environment, made possible by a grant from Governor Baker’s Workforce Development Cabinet. 
•    Our Science team continued its innovative research, cracking the lobster genome, understanding population genetics of North Atlantic Cod, and investigating genetic diversity of the tiny microorganisms that are vital to sustaining a healthy marine ecosystem. 
•    The GMGI Science Hour was introduced virtually as a way to bring our community together and bring world-class, innovative science safely to you at home. 


We are proud of these accomplishments. And we are equally proud of the dedicated, motivated GMGI staff. They’ve showed that, thanks to a focused determination, the GMGI mission is stronger than ever.  

We hope our performance within the most challenging environment in recent memory gives you the confidence to support GMGI as the year draws to a close. Your tax-deductible donation will fortify our efforts to address the critical challenges facing our oceans, human health and the environment. 

In gratitude,

Chris Bolzan, Executive DirectorDONATE TODAY TO SUPPORT OUR MISSIONGMGI Science Hour Talks Continue 
 Up next on the GMGI Science Hour: our own Donald G. Comb Science Director, Dr. Andrea Bodnar!  Following on the heels of the inspiring talk two weeks ago from Nobel Laureate William G. Kaelin Jr., M.D. – which drew a record setting audience – Dr. Bodnar joins us THIS Thursday December 3rd at 7:30pm via Zoom to discuss her groundbreaking work on the long-lived red sea urchin, and its potential to help scientists understand healthy aging in humans. Register for the talk here.

As always, you can view previous Science Hour talks and learn more about our upcoming speakers on our website.Academy Starts Second Semester
 The Academy’s first semester wrapped up in mid-November, with students completing a final practical exam that consisted of different ‘stations’ set up in the teaching lab, designed to test students’ knowledge and application of different technical laboratory skills.   All students completed their exams – and the semester – successfully, with high praise from their instructors. Teaching Assistant Rebecca Barnard reports that in addition to fulfilling the requirements of semester one, this class had some of the cleanest DNA sequencing results seen in recent years. 

We are also happy to report there were zero cases of COVID-19 within the Academy’s in-person learning model. This accomplishment is a testament to the commitment to safety that students and instructors practiced over the past 12 weeks. 

This morning, students returned to the Academy to begin their second semester.  Using what they learned in semester one on how to extract fish DNA for sequencing, semester two will guide students through the process of extracting protein from fish samples.  There will also be an introduction to mammalian cell culture – the growth and passaging of cells derived from animal tissue.  Additionally, this class will be the first to end semester two with four weeks of biomanufacturing – a brief introduction to what will soon be a permanent addition to the Academy curriculum in 2021. You can read more about the new biomanufacturing curriculum and lab, and the grant that enabled it, here.GMGI research associates  Dylan Comb and  Tim O’Donnell stop at Corliss Landing on a sampling trip in late November, collecting water samples for an ongoing eDNA project analyzing the local cod population.GMGI’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

During the summer months, GMGI created an internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. Since its formation, the committee has met on a regular basis to address issues of inclusion and equity in the workplace, develop staff training and growth opportunities, and foster an environment free of bias and judgment. The committee has developed this statement of commitment:
 In addition to researching diversity in our oceans, GMGI is committed to supporting diversity in our workforce and classrooms. We know that having varied backgrounds and experiences stimulates discussion and new ideas. We are taking action on diversity, equity, and inclusion by providing substantial training opportunities to increase self-awareness as an organization, and building a team of staff and students from uniquely different backgrounds.The GMGI Science Minute

As you enjoyed your second (or third) helping of Thanksgiving dinner, GMGI Scientist Matt Harke, PhD hopes you remembered to thank your gut microbiome. 
 DONATE TODAY

The GMGI Science Hour with Nobel Laureate William G. Kaelin Jr., M.D.

On Thursday, November 19th, we are honored to have Nobel Laureate William G. Kaelin Jr., M.D. as the speaker for our second virtual Science Hour talk of the season! In 2019, Dr. Kaelin received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work with tumor suppressing proteins, using a variety of molecular and cellular approaches to understand how, mechanistically, these proteins prevent tumor growth.

Please join us on Thursday, November 19th at 7:30pm on Zoom to hear Dr. Kaelin’s journey from being a “C-” student to earning one of the most prestigious awards in medicine.

You can register for this talk here.

Please reach out to Ashley Destino at ashley.destino@gmgi.org with any questions.

The GMGI Science Hour with Dr. Bruce Walker on 10/15 – Register Now!

 
GMGI’s Fall Science Hour series begins this Thursday, October 15th with a talk featuring Dr. Bruce Walker’s first-hand experience treating COVID-19 and co-leading the Massachusetts Consortium for Pathogen Readiness.  Register now! 

If you have already registered for this talk, you will have received a confirmation email from Zoom with login information. 

Please reach out to ashley.destino@gmgi.org with any questions.
REGISTER NOW
Previous Science Hour talks are available on our website.

Gloucester Biotechnology Academy Announces Plans for Fully-Immersive, In-Person Classes for Fall 2020 – There’s still time to apply!

sm extracting DNA -1638On August 31, the Gloucester Biotechnology Academy will open its doors for the Class of 2021 to begin the innovative, life sciences workforce training at Blackburn Center. and is still accepting applications for the few remaining openings. The entering class will mark the 5th anniversary of the transformational, vocational program.

“At GMGI, we are all about science so we will be taking more than just the prescribed precautions,” said Christine Bolzan, GMGI Executive Director. “This will be a safe and productive environment — 81% of enrolled students graduate and 86% of them have gone either on to careers in life sciences or to study science in college.” The Academy team has created a comprehensive plan that prioritizes the health and safety of students and staff and allows for a continuation of the Academy’s tradition of excellence in hands-on, laboratory career training.

Donning PPE has long been an Academy practice, and additional requirements will include careful social distancing, rotating breaks and lunch schedules, cleaning regimens, and a revised academic calendar to account for potential disruptions due to illness. Students and staff will engage in daily health monitoring before entering the facility. Equipment has been purchased to allow for lectures to be recorded, and both classroom and laboratory settings have been reconfigured to create the safest possible environment.

“The practical curriculum cannot be taught remotely as the great benefit of this experience is its hands-on nature and guidance from our teaching staff. We needed to develop a plan that would allow that to continue, and it will take commitment, vigilance and honesty within our Academy community to make this work amid a global pandemic. We are excited to move forward and welcome another cohort of young adults to pursue careers as laboratory technicians,” explained Dr. John Doyle, Education Director.

The Gloucester Biotechnology Academy is currently accepting applications for the Fall of 2020 and more information can be found online: https://gmgi.org/education/apply/

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