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For Immediate Release: April 14, 2010
MBL Contact: Gina Hebert, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu
Brown Contact: Richard Lewis, 401-863-3766; Richard_Lewis@brown.edu

Brown University, MBL Announce Expanded Partnership
Alliance will strengthen academic offerings, research collaboration

L to R: Thomas Tisch, Brown University Chancellor; Christopher Neill, Rosenthal Director of the Brown-MBL Partnership; Phyllis Rosenthal; Charles Rosenthal; Ruth Simmons, Brown University President; and Gary Borisy, MBL Director & CEO at a recent event announcing the expanded Brown-MBL Partnership. Credit: Ashley Daubenmire. Full size image


Brown-MBL Graduate Program in Biological and Environmental Sciences

Christopher Neill

WOODS HOLE, MA and PROVIDENCE, RI—Brown University and the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) have announced an expanded partnership aimed at generating new joint research opportunities, strengthening graduate education, and enriching academic offerings across the two institutions. The partnership will be directed by MBL ecologist Dr. Christopher Neill and builds upon a joint Brown-MBL Ph.D. program launched in 2003.

Neill’s directorship is sponsored by an endowment of more than $2 million established by MBL Trustee and Brown Trustee Emeritus Charles Rosenthal and his wife, Phyllis.

“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,” said Rosenthal.

“I am delighted to expand our academic relationship with the Marine Biological Laboratory,” said Brown University 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," added 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 as well as 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, Brown University’s vice president for research. “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."


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Americas. For more information, visit www.MBL.edu.

Brown University, a member of the Ivy League, is renowned for the quality of its teaching, research, and student-centered curriculum in which students are asked to be architects of their own educations within the framework of their concentrations. Founded in 1764, Brown is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. With 6,013 undergraduates, 1,832 graduate students, 416 medical students, and 686 full-time faculty, Brown provides both the close mentoring relationships characteristic of a liberal arts college and the intellectual excitement of a research-intensive university. More than 85,000 Brown alumni, in fields from business to the arts to public service and beyond, are making a difference in the world every day.