UCSD/SIO Center for Marine Biotechnology & Biomedicine

Located at the world-renowned UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the CMBB is a campus wide research division dedicated to exploration of the novel and diverse resources of the oceans. Several research programs focus on marine drug discovery, revealing novel chemical diversity from bacteria that live in ocean sediments or colonize marine animals, or from higher species such as sponges and corals, with an emphasis on cancer and infectious and inflammatory diseases.

CMBB Mission and Goals

Researchers in the CMBB participate in fundamental studies of the physiology of marine organisms, the conservation and management of marine habitats, the development of environmental monitoring and remediation technologies, the genetic engineering of commercially important marine species, the design of model systems to supplement mammals in biomedical research, and the development of pharmaceuticals from marine organisms.

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CMBB Faculty Investigators


CMBB scientists investigate a wide range of biotechnologies, from the special properties of deep-sea marine microbes to the genetic engineering of commercially viable marine animals.  CMBB is unique. Nowhere else in the world is research of such magnitude being conducted on the biomedical potential of marine resources. In particular, the program integrates Scripps Institution of Oceanography leading expertise in marine science with the frontline medical research activities of UCSD Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy. The combined efforts represent an unprecedented approach to the development of new drugs and the fight against infectious and other diseases

CHARM Collaboration Contact:  William Gerwick, PhD  (Co-Director of CMBB)

CHARM ⬌ CMBB Collaborations

CHARM and CMBB faculty conduct many studies evaluating the  antibiotic and immune boosting potential of novel chemicals isolated from marine actinomycetes, cyanobacteria and sponges, with a  focus on MRSA and MDR Gram-negative pathogens, including treatment studies in animal models of infection. Sophisticated approaches including genome mining, heterologous biosynthesis, and chemoenzymatic total synthesis are brought to bear on this work. 


Unlocking a Marine Antibiotic

CMBB and CHARM Investigators used a novel technique of transformation-associated recombination (TAR) in yeast to directly clone, refactor and heterologously express a silent biosynthetic pathway to yield a new lipopeptide antibitiotic, taromycin A.  This "plug-and-play" approach will allow access to orphan genetic pathways for novel natural product drug discovery.

Read at Proc Natl Acad Sci USA