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PROFESSOR GRANT BURGESS Professor of Marine Biotechnology, Newcastle University

British Association Northumbria Branch Lecture

Date: 15th May 2008

Time: 17:30

Venue: Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building


The Dove Marine Laboratory began life as modest lean-to shed, on the site of the Victorian salt water baths, in Cullercoats Harbour over a century ago. Scientists from Armstrong College and local fisherman’s groups sought to establish a laboratory that would help them to understand the life cycles and biology of the fish and shellfish upon which much of the community depended. Overfishing was, even then, already a problem. Following a fire which destroyed the wooden laboratory, Wilfred Hudleston FRS, a local benefactor, funded the construction of a substantial new laboratory on the beach. It was opened on September the 29th 1908 by the Duke of Northumberland.  In 2008, the Centenary of the opening of the building, and as part of a calendar of Centenary activities, this talk will present the history of events leading up to the formation of the Laboratory and its construction and operation as a leading centre for Marine Biological Research over the last one hundred years. Professor Burgess will recount the beginnings of marine biological research at Cullercoats, from Hancock’s discoveries of new species of marine mollusk in the 1850s, through to more recent, key contributions to the study of plankton and effects of pollution on marine organisms. In addition, the exciting science projects currently underway at the Dove and planned for the next Century will be revealed. These include medicines from sea slugs, monsters from the deep, and how an understanding of marine ecology can help us to live in an increasingly sustainable way.

Professor Grant Burgess was born in 1964 in Edinburgh and grew up in London. He holds a BSc in biotechnology from Queen Elizabeth College London, now Kings College. He received a PhD in molecular biology from Imperial College London working on light harvesting complexes in photosynthetic bacteria (1990). From 1990 to 1994 he was a research fellow, then Assistant Professor of Marine Biotechnology in Japan, at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology where he pioneered gene transfer studies in marine isolates of photosynthetic bacteria and magnetic bacteria and worked on CO2 mitigation technologies using marine microalgae. In 1994 he returned to a Lectureship the Department of Biological Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, and became reader there in 1999. In October 2005, he was appointed to a Chair in Marine Biotechnology at Newcastle University where he is currently also Director of the Dove Marine Laboratory. Grant has over 25 years research expertise in marine biotechnology, microbial ecology and molecular biology. He is currently Founding Editor of the journal “Marine Biotechnology” and secretary of the European Society for Marine Biotechnology. He was the recipient of the 2000 John Logie Baird Innovation award for developing an antifouling paint using environmentally friendly chemicals from marine bacteria. Current research interests include the use of marine microbes to develop new medicines, and to understand biofilm formation on marine structures. The talk will be complimented by a one off opportunity to visit the Dove Marine Laboratory for a guided tour and further information on the workings of the Laboratory and its Research Vessel the RV Bernicia. This visit is scheduled for Thursday May 22nd 2008 at 5.30pm – 7.00pm.  Booking is essential and interested parties can sign up at the lecture or by emailing: