PROVIDENCE, R.I. and WOODS HOLE, Mass. — Brown University and the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) have announced an expanded partnership to generate new joint research opportunities, strengthen graduate education, and enrich academic offerings across the two institutions. The partnership will be directed by MBL ecologist Christopher Neill and builds upon a joint Brown-MBL Ph.D. program launched in 2003.
Neill’s directorship is supported by an endowment of more than $2 million established by Charles and Phyllis Rosenthal. Charles Rosenthal is a Brown trustee emeritus and an MBL trustee .
“Phyllis and I are proud to contribute to the furthering of this world-class collaboration of scientific research, education and discovery between two great institutions,” Rosenthal said.
“I am delighted to expand our academic relationship with the Marine Biological Laboratory,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons. “As a result of the generous endowment from the Rosenthal family, Brown students will gain regular access to a wider range of scientists in microbiology, biomedicine, and ecology, and Brown faculty will have more opportunities to collaborate with the MBL’s scientists on groundbreaking research projects.”
“Establishing a partnership with Brown University in 2003 was one of the most significant events in the MBL’s history," said MBL Director and CEO Gary G. Borisy. “This increase in strength and scope of our alliance is testament to our previous successes. We thank Charles and Phyllis Rosenthal for their investment in this exciting venture that will support the highest levels of teaching and research in biology, biomedicine, and environmental sciences.”
In addition to Neill, four MBL scientists will hold joint faculty appointments at Brown. They will teach advanced-level classes, advise graduate students, and spearhead joint research projects. Eighteen students are currently enrolled in the Brown-MBL Graduate Program in Biological and Environmental Science. Three students completed their Ph.D.s in late 2009.
The expanded partnership will focus on three key scientific themes: ecosystems, environmental health and microbiomes — populations of microbes that play key roles in the human body and the environment. While Brown and MBL researchers have collaborated on projects since the inception of the joint graduate program seven years ago, the new partnership aims to foster additional research collaborations among scientists at both institutions and to offer additional educational opportunities for students at all levels. A principal goal of the partnership is to further introduce Brown graduate and undergraduate students to MBL scientists through enhanced course offerings and research opportunities in these targeted areas of research.
“Together scientists at Brown and MBL have the vision, expertise, and analytical tools to bridge boundaries of disciplines to create a research and training environment in molecular biology, microbiology, and ecology that is unsurpassed in the world,” said Neill. “In addition to fostering basic research, we aim to apply research to solving critical problems of human health and the environment.”
An outreach initiative aimed at policy, translation, and science-based decision-making will also help to guide the partnership’s research collaborations and academic offerings.
“This growing partnership brings these two major research institutions even closer together,” said Clyde L. Briant, vice president for research at Brown. “One of the great powers of this partnership is that it allows the researchers at both MBL and Brown to address, together, the complex environmental and life sciences problems that face our society and to work toward ways to solve them.”