The Marine Biological Association has been awarded a £1.35-million Wolfson grant towards a new Marine Microbiome Centre of Excellence.

This new world-class research centre will focus on the vast and diverse microscopic world of the ocean to help understand ocean health and the impacts of climate change.

The funding will contribute towards this ambitious infrastructure investment. The Wolfson Foundation support organisations that create, preserve and disseminate knowledge.

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said: “We were enormously impressed by the quality of the current research at the MBA, and the ambition to create world-class research infrastructure to match. The broad area of marine biology could scarcely be of greater importance at the current moment, and we are delighted to support the organisation in building on its long, proud history.

Artist impression of the Centre’s reception foyer. Copyright Burwell Architects.

The world-class Marine Microbiome Centre, based at Citadel Hill in Plymouth, Devon will be the first of its kind in the UK. The proximity and access to the ocean of this centre coupled with the Marine Biological Association’s own research vessels will provide a focal point for international researchers in a dedicated facility.

Welcoming the investment, The Marine Biological Association’s Director Professor Willie Wilson said, “We are excited to receive such a prestigious grant which will make an enormous difference to improving research facilities at the MBA. The new Centre is part of a wider strategy we have termed, “Pathway to 150 Years of the MBA” which takes inspiration from the Marine Biological Association’s eminent scientific roots and spirit of discovery.”

Work is already well underway on the Marine Microbiome Centre of Excellence with the recent completion of a new Huxley Imaging Centre that houses some of the most advanced microscopes in the world thanks to over £1.4-million in grants from the Natural Environment Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Professor Wilson further noted, “the research conducted at the new Centre will be a lens to a marine microbial world that is critical for the planet’s health, it is akin to the role the human gut bacteria play in human health”.

MBA President, Dr Gill Rider said “Never has there been a more important time in human history for us to better understand the role of our oceans, the life they support and the impact of climate change. This exciting new Centre will ensure that the MBA remains at the forefront of Marine Biology research.

Working with Burwell Architects, this phase of the MBA infrastructure improvement programme (which is part of an ambitious £20-million site masterplan) should be completed by the end of 2021 creating a dedicated facility for world-class researchers and ensuring the MBA remains an organisation that Marine Biologists aspire to work at and with.   Twitter: @thembauk

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The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science and health, heritage, humanities and the arts. Education and research underpins all that they do.

Since it was established in 1955, over £900 million (£1.9 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 11,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.            Twitter: @wolfsonfdn

Burwell Architects is an RIBA Award winning design practice engaged in a range of architectural, interior design and master planning projects. Established in 1999, the practice works from primary design studio in Deptford with satellite facilities in the South West. Twitter: @BurwellArchi

For more information about this project, please contact Maya Plass, Head of Communications 01752 426490 or

Jul 10, 2020 By guba