Official opening of the Marine Microbiome Centre of Excellence

New, state of the art laboratory facilities were officially opened at the Marine Biological Association (MBA) which will focus on the vast and varied microscopic world in our ocean, and help us understand its health and the impacts of climate change using world-class technology.

After six months in construction, the Marine Microbiome Centre of Excellence (MMCE) has opened to researchers, with advanced equipment and spacious work stations to help marine biologists explore the microscopic world of our ocean. 

MBA Chief Executive Professor Willie Wilson said: “The Marine Biological Association has been a launch pad for many pioneers of microbiology; and with this funding we are delighted to continue our journey to become a world-class facility and fulfil our ambition to be the voice of marine biology.

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”.

The new facilities were made a possibility thanks to a £1.35 million grant from the Wolfson Foundation.

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said:

“We were delighted to support the Marine Microbiome Centre of Excellence, the first of its kind in the UK. This project will advance our understanding of the invisible worlds and ecosystems beneath the ocean, and we look forward to seeing the results of this important research.”

Garfield Weston Foundation kindly agreed to support the MBA with a transformational award of £400,000 which, released equal match funding and enabled us to realise the full vision for our enabling Phase 1 plan.

MMCE funding also contributed to the redevelopment of the Ecology Labs, with offices and laboratories combined to create a flexible wet lab. The spaces provide facilities for our scientists researching benthic ecosystems and environmental change, biodiversity and climate change, non-native species, and the Darwin Tree of Life project.

Eminent guests were invited to the celebratory launch of the new centre, which included tours of the new laboratories and demonstrations of cutting-edge equipment by marine microbiologists.

Senior Research Fellow Dr Michael Cunliffe, who leads a research team on exploring the biology, ecology and evolution of microbial life said: “The Marine Biological Association (MBA) has a long and rich history of studying marine microbial life, exploring the local waters around Plymouth, the open ocean and polar regions, and investigating the many ways that marine microbes maintain a healthy and functioning earth system. Our new centre of excellence consolidates the work of several marine microbial researchers at the MBA and creates exciting opportunities for new researchers and collaborations. As well as world-leading research, our centre creates capability for training students and the next generation of marine microbiologists”.

As a Learned Society driven by almost 140 years of scientific excellence and innovation, the MBA’s vision is to be a globally recognised leader in cutting-edge marine biology research, scientific outreach and public engagement to help empower and enthuse a new generation of marine biologists.