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Environment Magazine September/October 2008

 

March-April 2016

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Lessons From the Sea: Marine Animals Provide Models for Biomedical Research

WE ARE ALL DEPENDENT on the oceans and recognize the important role they play in the provision of food, energy, climate regulation, transport, and even recreation. It is not as well recognized that marine animals have contributed much to both basic and applied biomedical research, leading to new discoveries and improving our lives. The enormous diversity of life in the sea offers a rich selection of organisms with specialized adaptations that enable researchers to learn more about complex processes that would be difficult to study in humans. Many of the fundamental features of marine animals are evolutionarily conserved at the molecular and cellular level, providing meaningful results that are often relevant to human biology.

Andrea Bodnar is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences in St. George's, Bermuda. She thanks Helena Reinardy for careful reading and helpful suggestions for this article.       

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