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FAU and Thermo Fisher Scientific Collaborate on Conservation

(Left to right): Tatiana Ferrer, Research Coordinator, WEB; Greg O’Corry-Crowe, Ph.D., research professor and head of WEB; Port branch of the FAU; and Stephen Jackson, Ph.D., Associate Director of Genetic Science Product Applications at Thermo Fisher Scientific, stand with the Applied Biosystems SeqStudio Flex Genetic Analyzer provided by Thermo Fisher for environmental research, including studies on endangered species.


A unique agreement between Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world’s leader in serving science, will enable researchers to advance marine science and conserve endangered species around the world, from the tropics to the Arctic.

As part of the public-private collaboration, Thermo Fisher supports the efforts of FAU Harbor Branch by supporting the development of laboratory infrastructure that includes the latest genetic analysis platforms, which are essential to advance ecosystem studies. marine at the molecular level. FAU’s port arm will evaluate Thermo Fisher’s technology and provide feedback on how the platforms can be optimized for marine science and species conservation applications.

A major obstacle to advances in studies of marine species and ecosystems is the lack of funding opportunities for expensive infrastructure – such as large molecular platforms, laboratory instruments and data analysis software in downstream – which are needed to process and analyze large numbers of samples from endangered species. species.

In recent years, this shortfall has become a major obstacle to solving emerging environmental crises. Time is running out, especially in remote areas and underserved communities around the world, where commitment to solving emerging environmental issues is often greatest but access to science and technology is lowest.

“We needed to replace our lab’s workhorse, the Applied Biosystems 3130 Genetic Analyzer. However, finding the funding to replace this critical tool was challenging,” said Greg O’Corry-Crowe, Ph.D., research professor at the FAU Harbor Branch and responsible for WEB: the Wildlife Evolution and Behavior programme. “Without the analyzer, our team could not progress on a series of critical projects from the tropics to the Arctic. So we approached Thermo Fisher with a new idea to access critical equipment in exchange for our insights into how their technology could better serve efforts to address growing wildlife and environmental issues.

Following discussions with O’Corry-Crowe and the research team, Thermo Fisher responded to the call to assist with research and conservation efforts at FAU Port Branch by providing a SeqStudio Flex Genetic Analyzer from State-of-the-art Applied Biosystems.

“In line with our mission to empower customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer, we were excited about the opportunity to support research that will help solve environmental problems around the world,” said Stephen Jackson, Ph.D., associate director. genetic science product applications at Thermo Fisher.

The benefits of the new collaboration are already underway with the addition of Applied Biosystems’ SeqStudio Flex Genetic Analyzer in the WEB lab, which allows scientists to analyze genetic samples. In addition to technology support, Thermo Fisher will provide much-needed research and development expertise and assistance. They also want to supply the next generation of genetic platforms that are coming, including the new Applied Biosystems SeqStudio Flex Genetic Analyzer from Thermo Fisher. Together, public-private collaboration should make significant progress.

“Genetics has been a critical part of conservation biology because it helps us understand the evolution of endangered species and allows us to develop more effective management strategies,” said research coordinator Tatiana Ferrer. for WEB. “We were absolutely delighted with Thermo Fisher’s response to support our efforts and are excited to collaborate with them on these important science and conservation initiatives.”

WEB is dedicated to basic and applied research on marine mammals, including in remote locations like the Arctic. Research focuses on the behavioral, ecological and evolutionary aspects of species vulnerability and resilience, particularly in relation to climate change. Scientists combine molecular genetic analysis with field ecology to study the molecular and behavioral ecology of marine and other endangered species and apply ancient DNA technology to answer ecosystem and evolutionary questions. Current field and laboratory studies in the WEB include surveys of beluga whales, polar bears, stellate sea lions, ice seals and bottlenose dolphins.

“Among the many challenges we face in the field of conservation genetics is the fact that so much of our time is needed to complete projects with limited resources. Additionally, in difficult field conditions like working in the Arctic, it can be especially challenging to collect samples,” O’Corry-Crowe said. “Now, with our partners at Thermo Fisher, we can work together to troubleshoot and develop innovative new approaches to benefit animals and humans.”

The ultimate goal of the collaboration is to provide greater access to scientific research and education by putting technology in the hands of those on the front lines of tackling environmental challenges and saving endangered species.

“The Applied Biosystems SeqStudio Flex Genetic Analyzer provided to us by Thermo Fischer is a powerful tool that will enable our scientists in the Evolution and Behavior of Wildlife program to accelerate their research analysis and improve their ability to answer to key scientific questions that affect us locally. as well as globally,” said James Sullivan, Ph.D., Executive Director, FAU Harbor Branch. “We are very grateful for their support and commitment to collaborating in conservation.”

-FAU-