The MDI Biological Laboratory leads the Maine INBRE. The Institution is located in Salisbury Cove, Maine, on the shores of Frenchman Bay in the Gulf of Maine. Founded in 1898, it is among the oldest cold-water laboratories in the eastern United States. The Institution has active residential and visiting research programs and is internationally recognized for using marine and genetically-tractable models in biomedical research leading to advances in human health.
Research at the MDI Biological Laboratory is based on the premise that using a comparative approach—studying a range of evolutionarily diverse organisms—reveals important biological principles. Scientists at the Institution study non-mammalian animals to learn about fundamental biological processes, how organisms interact with their environment, and the dynamics of biological systems from molecules to ecosystems.
Diversity is at the very core of the MDI Biological Laboratory, among both its scientists and the organisms they study. The Institution attracts researchers and students from a broad range of educational backgrounds and academic disciplines including both basic and physician scientists working in areas as diverse as physiology, molecular biology, ecology, toxicology, genomics, and bioinformatics.
These scientists study a wide variety of marine and non-marine model organisms ranging from C. elegans—a tiny roundworm with a well-defined genome and limited number of cells—to sea urchins, zebrafish, skates, Daphnia, and lobsters, among many others. Non-mammalian animals provide powerful models for studying how organisms develop as embryos; how they regenerate new organs and limbs as adults; how they transport solutes and water across cell and epithelial membranes; how they interact on a cellular and molecular level with changes in environmental factors such as temperature, salinity, and toxins; and how both the complete organism and its cells respond to stress and its long-term effects.
The MDI Biological Laboratory is unique in providing the opportunity for basic scientists, clinical investigators, and students at all levels to interact daily in an intense and close-knit setting, cooperatively directing their efforts to the solution of fundamental biological problems. INBRE allows the Institution to offer its established research and training opportunities to a broader student and faculty population within Maine. Institution training courses, symposia, and fellowships provide research experience and training to students at all levels, from high school and college through medical school.
Educational experiences are always hands-on and engage students in meaningful research. The MDI Biological Laboratory provides a hub for core research resources and enhanced education for students from INBRE Undergraduate Partner Institutions.
Faculty of the MDI Biological Laboratory serve as mentors for undergraduate summer research fellowships and academic year internships, and lead many INBRE laboratory training sessions. They also serve as adjunct faculty for the UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, which is building a critical pipeline of students becoming the state’s future researchers.