Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute (GMGI) is a nonprofit organization that addresses challenges facing our oceans and human health through innovative scientific research and education. Launched in 2013 as the world’s first dedicated marine genomics institute, GMGI uses a platform of advanced molecular biology and genomic technologies to address questions related to oceans and healthcare broadly. As the largest reservoir of biodiversity on the planet, GMGI believes the marine environment holds tremendous and largely untapped opportunities for new discovery with the potential to directly impact human health, our oceans, and the environment.
Studying marine animals has led to significant discoveries in cellular immunology, nerve conduction, photoreceptor function, cell division, and the process of learning and memory. There are currently nine FDA-approved marine-derived drugs on the market, with more than 30 compounds in clinical trials. Marine-derived therapeutics show promise particularly for cancer treatment, infectious disease, and inflammation, as well as potent, specific, and non-addictive treatments for pain. GMGI is ideally situated between the maritime infrastructure of Cape Ann and the biotechnology hub of Cambridge and Boston to build an innovative scientific community that tackles some of the most vexing modern challenges while catalyzing the regional economy.
GMGI was founded in 2013 by a team of three leading researchers/ entrepreneurs with prodigious experience in the science and commercial application of genomics: Greg Verdine, Ph.D., Marc Vidal, Ph.D. , and David Walt, Ph.D. The institute utilizes a unique strategy triad to guide their work that includes: a state-of-the-art research institute; the Gloucester Biotechnology Academy, a vocational program that trains young adults to become biotech lab technicians; and active cultivation of the scientific community in Gloucester through conferences and partnerships. Through these activities, GMGI aims to conduct world-class research with real-world application as well as provide substantial benefit to the local community and economy.
In October 2018, GMGI was able to scale its research facilities and move into its current waterfront location in Gloucester with a $2.7 million capital grant from the Massachusetts Life Science Center. Since then, the institute has received several grants to expand its research and education practices and has launched a new campaign to raise $20 million for research and growth over the next 5 years.
GMGI’s scientific advisory board is comprised of world-renowned genomics experts across marine and human biology. With guidance from its scientific advisory board, the organization has established strategic research priorities to guide its targeted financial investments toward research projects with the greatest potential for near- and mid-term impact. To date, GMGI has nine ongoing research projects across three areas of focus: biomedicine and biotechnology, ecosystem function and health, and fisheries and aquaculture.
The institute’s research is dedicated to creating genetic and genomic tools to advance marine animals as research models with a focus on long-lived, disease resistant marine organisms. The application of genomics has the potential to revolutionize the field of marine biotechnology, providing a sustainable approach to accelerate the discovery of new organisms, drug targets, biosynthetic processes, industrial enzymes, advanced materials, and therapeutics.
Applying genomic technologies to the marine environment has been transformative in understanding ecosystem diversity and function. Advances in next-generation sequencing and genome-wide analysis enable new applications in fisheries to understand population structure, biodiversity, and the genetic basis of disease resistance. Beyond genomic data supporting applications in human health, it also enables swift data-driven decisions about responsible management of valuable marine sources. The data also provide valuable insight to understand the impact of environmental stressors such as climate change, wind energy installations, and sewage.
The research that GMGI is spearheading has the potential to have wide-reaching effects for both marine and human health. The ocean represents a new source of opportunity for genetics research, while genomics technologies provide a cost-effective and sustainable approach to accelerate the discovery of novel genes, pathways, and organisms.
GMGI has dramatically increased the prominence of its scientific research in marine genomics under the leadership of Andrea Bodnar, Ph.D., who has served as the Donald G Comb Science Director since 2018. Prior to joining the institute, Bodnar was a Senior Scientist in the Molecular Discovery Lab at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS). Bodnar will report directly to the Chief Scientific Officer, will serve as a partner is building the science program, and continue to oversee her team. Having established a strong foundational research program over the last eight years, GMGI is now well-positioned to recruit a visionary scientific leader who will be charged with designing and implementing a clear strategic vision to take the institute to the next level. This inaugural Chief Scientific Officer will be responsible for the recruitment of both junior and senior research scientists and will set the direction for the institute based on its expertise in marine genetics and genomics, its educational and commercial strengths, as well as the evolving ecosystem of biomedical research. While honoring Gloucester's unique culture and history, the Chief Scientific Officer will guide the organization forward with insight and creativity to shape bold vision of its future, while also leading with clarity and a strong "human" touch.
The institute is currently organized under the leadership of Christine Bolzan, Executive Director. She is a seasoned leader with experience in financial services, entrepreneurship, and higher education. Prior to joining GMGI in 2019, Bolzan served as Director, Career Education at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. The Chief Scientific Officer will serve as a colleague and peer to Bolzan, and will report directly to the Board, with guidance from the Board’s Science Advisory Executive Committee: David Walt, Ph.D., Marc Vidal, Ph.D., and JC Gutierrez-Ramos, Ph.D.
The Chief Scientific Officer will work with GMGI’s leadership team, Board of Directors, and strategic advisors to design and execute a strategic scientific plan. S/he will be responsible for the overall scientific direction of the institute, establishing key strategic goals, and setting organizational performance expectations. The successful candidate is expected to have an international reputation and well-funded research program. They will create the necessary environment, processes, and infrastructure to discuss and make critical strategic, financial, and scientific decisions as a way of elevating GMGI’s stature. This individual will play a leadership role in defining GMGI’s research priorities, building and cultivating alliances with stakeholders, including academic, industry, nonprofit and government entities, and managing their growing grant portfolio.
At a professional level, the Chief Scientific Officer will bring significant research program development experience to GMGI. While experience in the marine biology or genomics field is viewed as compelling, it is not necessarily required. The ideal candidate will have a record of successfully designing and executing a scientific plan, as well as experience initiating, negotiating and managing strategic programs.
At a personal level, the individual will be deeply motivated to make an impact on the scientific and life sciences community, have excellent judgement, interpersonal skills, and a strong commitment to ethical standards.
From an educational perspective, a Ph.D. and/or M.D. in biomedical research is required. Education, while important as an indicator of character, intellectual ability, and achievement, will be subordinate to personal qualities and professional accomplishments as variables in the selection process.
Inquiries, nominations, and applications are invited. Although the search will remain open until the position is filled, review of candidate materials will begin immediately. Candidates should provide, in confidence, a curriculum vitae, a letter of application that highlights administrative acumen and leadership experience, and the names and contact information of five references. References will not be contacted without prior knowledge and approval of the candidates. Materials should be sent electronically via e-mail to the university’s consultants, Kyle Meingast and Jesse Hershman, Partners, Park Square Executive Search, at GMGI@parksquare.com.
GMGI is proud to be an equal opportunity employer, and all aspects of employment are based on merit, competence, performance and business need. In addition to researching diversity in our oceans, GMGI is committed to supporting diversity in our workforce and classrooms. We know that varied backgrounds and experiences stimulates discussion and new ideas. We are taking action on diversity, equity and inclusion by providing training opportunities to increase self-awareness as an organization and building a team of staff and students from uniquely different backgrounds. Our culture is built on innovation, collaboration and a shared desire to impact our community
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