The University of North Carolina-Wilmington has long had a role in marine research. Now the university expanding with a new big step forward with an expansion for its Marine Biotechnology Center.

UNCW officially opened the new biotechnology building last month, the latest addition to the university’s millennial CREST campus offering laboratories and housing research equipment for partnerships between UNCW and industry.

The center’s executive director, Dan Baden is a professor of marine science who has served as the director of the UNCW Center for Marine Science since 1999.

“The ultimate goal is to create a vibrant environment where discovery fuels development, development fosters applications and applications yield translated products,” says Baden. “The source discovery is multifaceted, the application process invigorating and the economic returns satisfying to all parties.”

Baden explained MARBIONC’s role in a recent UNCW faculty newsletter. Here’s what he said:

How does MARBIONC bring businesses and scientific research together?

Through basic university science, discoveries are made which have the potential to be turned into unique products. By taking that basic science discovery and innovating around it, applications can be postulated. Applied researchers build upon the applications hypothesis and carry out studies to validate or invalidate postulated applications. Validation creates an arsenal of information that can be promoted to industry for development into new products or processes. Ultimately, it is a champion from the university and a counterpart champion in industry to make the transition from application to product. The entire process takes many different people, each with a unique talent and each being essential to the process. Very seldom does one investigator take a product from discovery through to product.

How will the work conducted in MARBIONC benefit the public?

The entire translational sciences paradigm promoted by major federal agencies and state entities surrounds a return to the public. We researchers are all aware that the resources we use for research are the result of taxpayer financing. Return is not just in knowledge, but in applications that yield a better life for North Carolinians and for the American people. This effort is not just a university process, but requires the private sector to execute on the final steps, resulting in positive public benefit.

What type of products could be developed from the sea?

  • Pharmaceuticals with unique chemistry and pharmacology from algae, sponges, bacteria, fungi, gorgonians or other cultured source (unique bioactive materials)
  •  Products for the adhesives industry from shellfish or any benthic organism that produces substances that “stick” it in place (marine architecture)
  • Antibiotics produced by marine microbes to fend off competitors (microbial biological warfare)
  • Foods…such as fish, algae, shellfish, sea cucumbers, macro and micro fauna with specific ingredients like omega-fatty acids to name a few. We focus specifically on health, foods, and product testing methods.