Submitted by Friday Harbor Labs.
In late August, the SRV SAM, a 48-foot aluminum ketch, set sail from the Haida Gwaii Islands in British Columbia to the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs — the latest leg of its 8,000 nm voyage across the North Pacific for the Ocean Genome Atlas Project. The vessel will be moored at the labs over the coming months, with the OGAP team collecting marine samples in the region and making use of FHL’s advanced laboratory facilities and equipment to conduct their research.
Over the past five years, from Baja to Hawaii, across the Aleutian chain and along the Gulf of Alaska coastline, the team has collected many thousands of samples of marine organisms for documentation, observation, and genetic sequencing. Through this work, they are increasing our knowledge of the physiology, evolutionary history, and biodiversity of these organisms, and generating data relevant to everything from marine food webs to the regeneration of animal and human brains. In fact, research on some of these organisms has been critical to our understanding of the cellular bases of behaviors, memory formation, degradation, and depressive and locomotory disorders. From their studies, the OGAP team intends to generate research articles in top science journals and publications, including a targeted manuscript with Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Kandel and others, describing cells with regenerative capabilities and resistance to aging.
Ultimately, OGAP aims to collect, classify and map the genomic information of at least 80% of all living marine species on earth, with the help of the SRV SAM and a fleet of other professional and volunteer vessels deployed to transect the world’s oceans over the coming decades. The data will be compiled to produce a public database, the Ocean Genome Atlas. Scientists and institutions across the globe will have access to the OGA, which will provide critical data for their research on planetary health, evolutionary biology and biomedicines of the future.
OGAP is directed by Prof. Leonid Moroz, Co-Founder and Lead Scientist, and Peter Molnar, Co-Founder and Board Chair. Dr. Moroz is a distinguished Professor of Neuroscience, Genetics, Biology and Chemistry at the University of Florida, is affiliated with the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Sciences, and has collaborated with FHL over many years.