Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory

Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory

Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) is a private, nonprofit biological research and education institution located in Salisbury Cove, Maine on Mount Desert Island, founded in 1989. Medical and Marine researchers as well as students from around the world spend their summers at MDIBL studying the basic biological mechanisms of cold-water marine organisms.

MDIBL has offered a unique culture of informality and scientific rigor from its inception. Students, scientists and physicians participating in MDIBL programs live on the oceanside campus, immersing themselves in scientific inquiry and collaboration. Discoveries made at MDIBL have led to advances in diagnosing and treating cyctic fibrosis, cancer, glaucoma, macular degeneration, heart disease, and liver and kidney disorders. The work done at MDIBL has also led to a better understanding of the effects of environmental toxins on health.

Research at the Lab takes place in three centers: The Kathryn W. Davis Center for Regenerative Medicine, The Martha and Wistar Morris Center for Environmental Health Sciences and The John W. and Jean C. Boylan Center for Cellular and Molecular Physiology. Each center has MDIBL permanent faculty as well as adjunct faculty who do seasonal work at the Lab.

Originally a seasonal laboratory, MDIBL has developed a year round research program over the past ten years and now has a year round staff of 47. In 2009, MDIBL welcomed its first full-time, on-site director, Dr. Kevin Strange, a scientist from Vanderbilt Medical Center.

Contents

Mission

The mission of MDIBL is to promote research and education in the biology of marine organisms; to foster understanding and preservation of the environment; and to advance human health.[1].

History

Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory was founded by Tufts College Professor John Sterling Kingsley. It was originally called the Tufts Summer School of Biology.[2] The focus of the faculty and students at that time studied comparative anatomy and embryology of marine organisms. The Laboratory had summer courses in its early days, but eventually instruction was dropped in favor of pure research.[3]

George Dorr, one of the leading forces behind the creation of Acadia National Park, approached the Laboratory with the idea that Mount Desert Island would be an ideal location for a marine biological laboratory. In 1921, the South Harpswell site was packed onto a boat and sailed to its current spot in Salisbury Cove.[4] A new laboratory was built quickly and smaller laboratories were built near the shore over time.

The major focus of research at the Laboratory through the 20s and 30s was kidney function. Scientists from many different institutions would use the cold-water marine mammals to complete comparative studies with the mammals they worked with during the academic year. MDIBL closed briefly during World War II, but reopened in 1946 with the help of donors from the island.[5]

In 1950s more scientists and students began to come to the Laboratory to participate in the research that had now diversified into developmental and cell biology. James Shannon, a scientist who had been a seasonal researcher at MDIBL, was appointed the director of the National Institutes of Health in 1955.[6] By the early 1960s approximately 45 scientists came to the Laboratory each summer. It was during this time that the Laboratory began to publish the Bulletin of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, a tradition that continues to this day.[7] This publication documents the worked performed at the Laboratory.

In 1971 the Laboratory attempted to become a year-round research facility. Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen and William B. Kinter, two former summer residents, were responsible for this expansion. Schmidt-Nielsen was a comparative kidney physiologist and Kinter was an environmental ecologist who pioneered work on the effect of toxic oils on marine life.[8]

A permanent year-round research program and expanded educational programming was put into place within the last fifteen years. The Maine IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), was established at the Laboratory in 2001.Bowdoin College, Colby College, College of the Atlantic, Southern Maine Community College, the University of Maine at Machais, the University of Maine at Fort Kent and the University of Maine at Presque Isle to strengthen Maine's capacity to conduct NIH-competitive biomedical research.[9] MDIBL built a LEED-certified 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) laboratory building in 2008 and has recently begun construction on a second environmentally friendly laboratory building. [10]

Programs

Research

Research at MDIBL is divided into three separate centers: the Kathryn W. Davis Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine; the Martha and Wistar Morris Center for Environmental Health Studies and the John W. and Jean C. Boylan Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology.[11]

The Kathryn W. Davis Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine strives to define the cellular and molecular mechanisms of regeneration in a variety of non-mammalian organisms. The goal of this research is to develop new therapies to combat disease and improve human health.[12]

The Martha and Wistar Morris Center for Environmental Health Services works to bring biomedical and marine scientists together to understand how the health of the environment affects human health and well-being. The Morris Center has two programs that focus on different aspects of this goal. The Program in Marine Conservation and Environmental Science focuses on understanding the physical environment and the interactions that define local marine ecosystems. The Program in Environmental Physiology and Health focuses on understanding the physiological, molecular and genetic mechanisms that play a part in an organism’s response to natural and man-made environmental changes. This program also studies how the failure of these mechanisms contributes to disease, aging and loss of marine biodiversity.[13]

The Community Environmental Health Laboratory (CEHL) is also a part of this Center. It involves local community members, including students and teachers, in hands-on, community science initiatives which monitor water quality, safeguard public health, and restore the marine ecosystem. CEHL’s current projects include a collaborative project to restore eelgrass in Frenchman Bay, “ecologist in residence” programs in local schools, phytoplankton monitoring for red tide species, and water quality monitoring at Mount Desert Island swimming beaches. CEHL became a year-round program in 2009, allowing it to involve more citizens of all ages in protecting their environment, restoring critical marine habitats, and gaining a new understanding of science as a valuable tool for community activism. MDIBL also maintains the Comparative Toxicogenomics Database, which curates scientific data describing relationships between chemicals, genes, and human diseases

The John W. and Jean C. Boylan Center for Cellular and Molecular Physiology studies cell membranes, epithelial physiology and the communication and interaction of cells and proteins. The Boylan Center has two programs that focus on different aspects of this study. The Program in Membrane Biology focuses on defining the mechanisms that control the movement of salts, water, nutrients and metabolites in and out of cells. This program also studies the function of epithelial organs, such as the kidney. The Program of Neuroscience focuses on discovering how the nervous system develops, regenerates and functions to control complex behaviors. This program utilizes comparative models, especially crustaceans and echinoderms, in its work.[14]

Education

MDIBL offers educational programs for students of all levels. The programs emphasize that science is a response to human curiosity and fascination with the natural world. Students in these programs learn in working laboratories where interaction, experimentation, success and even failure define the research experience. Programs for the public give people an idea of the work being done at MDIBL and why it may impact them.[15]

Maine INBRE

The Maine IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) is an NCRR/NIH supported network of thirteen Maine institutions with making Maine competitive in the area of biomedical research. Maine’s INBRE provides research support and core facilities to junior faculty, creates research and training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, and serves as a pipeline for students to pursue biomedical research careers and enhance the scientific and technical knowledge of Maine’s workforce. The scientific focus of the Maine INBRE is comparative functional genomics. MDIBL serves as the lead institution in this network.[16]

References

  1. ^ MDIBL Website[1]
  2. ^ Boyer, James L., "Fish stories: 100 years at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory" Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 1998; 109: 73–83.[2]
  3. ^ MDIBL Website [3]
  4. ^ Boyer, James L., "Fish stories: 100 years at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory" Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 1998; 109: 73–83.[4]
  5. ^ MDIBL Website [5]
  6. ^ Boyer, James L., "Fish stories: 100 years at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory" Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 1998; 109: 73–83.[6]
  7. ^ Boyer, James L., "Fish stories: 100 years at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory" Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 1998; 109: 73–83.[7]
  8. ^ Boyer, James L., "Fish stories: 100 years at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory" Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 1998; 109: 73–83.[8]
  9. ^ Maine INBRE Website [http://www.maineidea.net/About/index.html
  10. ^ MDIBL Website [9]
  11. ^ MDIBL Website[10]
  12. ^ MDIBL Website[11]
  13. ^ MDIBL Website[12]
  14. ^ MDIBL Website[13]
  15. ^ MDIBL Website[14]
  16. ^ MDIBL Website[15]


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