Inspiration from the Ocean – Marine Biodiscovery

Dr Julie Maguire, Daithí O'Murchú Marine Research Station and Dr Caroline Murphy, Dublin City University at the Marine BioTech Call Info Day at the Marine Institute. Both are involved in projects awarded under the EU Seventh Framework Programme.Researchers from third-level Institutes and industry attended an information session at the Marine Institute Headquarters, Oranmore Friday 22nd January to learn about the funding opportunities for marine biodiscovery research, and to get tips and advice on formulating proposals for research projects.

Marine biodiscovery looks to the huge diversity of organisms in the marine environment for bioactive compounds that could form the basis of new materials and or process. It’s essentially taking inspiration from nature to provide the building blocks for new products or processes. By exploring the bioactivity in organisms from the ocean; including from fishery and aquaculture activity, or materials which result from the processing of marine organisms, there is potential to identify new compounds that can meet the needs of society. 

Among the many known uses for marine origin bioactive materials, are components in pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, functional foods and ingredients, nutritional supplements, cosmeceuticals, cosmetics and personal care products, horticultural stimulants, animal feed, biomaterials, and as a source of enzymes with potential in bioremediation and bioprocessing.

Dr. Dermot Hurst, ERA-MBT Member, gave information and advice on current funding opportunities within the Marine Biotechnology ERA- NET framework. Among the tips for researchers were to refer to relevant national policy documents, such as Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth - An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland. He also recommended the European Marine Board Position Paper on Marine Biotechnology, Marine Biotechnology: a Vision and Strategy for Europe, as an essential reference, in particular the ‘marine biotech toolkit’. 

 Researchers are invited to apply for funding for transnational joint research projects under the topic “Bioactive molecules from the marine environment – Biodiscovery” within the Marine Biotechnology ERA- NET framework. The closing date for proposals is 16 March 2016 (15:00 CET).

Dr John Bartlett and Dr Nicholas Touzet at the Marine BioTech Call Info Day at the Marine Institute. Dr Touzet has undertaken research on  microscopic algae in estuaries and lakes in the north west of Ireland funded by Science Foundation Ireland, and is currently the academic supervisor for the Cullen Fellowship “The Biological Oceanography of Azadinium”, which is co-supervised by Joe Silke, Marine Institute.This is the 2nd transnational call under the programme and focuses on the identification of bioactive compounds and other useful properties that offer commercial potential.  Applicants are asked to focus their research on biological materials obtained from one or more of the following sources: culture collections, biobanks and repositories that are held within institutions/companies; from fishery or aquaculture activity; marine biomass processing by-products and waste fractions; and biological materials collected from the foreshore (coastal areas between the limits of low and high water.

The Marine Biotechnology ERA-NET (ERA-MBT) is a consortium of national funding agencies working to promote complementary research activity between national organisations by pooling resources to provide joint funding for transnational projects in Marine Biotechnology. The aim is to support the development of the European bioeconomy.

Proposals can be submitted through the ERA-MBT online submission system:

For further information see  or contact the Marine Institute’s funding office or call 091 387 200