Coronavirus Information for the UC San Diego Community

Our leaders are working closely with federal and state officials to ensure your ongoing safety at the university. Stay up to date with the latest developments. Learn more.


The Taubman Foundation is supporting William Fenical's research in marine drug discovery.

The Taubman Foundation is supporting William Fenical's research in marine drug discovery.

Located at the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine (CMBB) is a campuswide UCSD research division dedicated to the exploration of the novel and diverse resources of the ocean. Research programs focus on marine biomedicine and marine drug discovery, with an emphasis on cancer and both infectious and inflammatory diseases. 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. The program integrates Scripps's leading expertise in marine science with the frontline medical research activities of the UCSD School of Medicine. The combined efforts represent an unprecedented approach to the development of new drugs and the fight against disease.

Integrated Efforts

CMBB has established its remarkable research programs by encouraging collaboration among scientists from many disciplines and departments on the UCSD campus. Further, its location near the La Jolla high-tech community provides exciting opportunities for interaction with many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. An important goal is to foster involvement by the local biotech community in accessing marine resources, in placing CMBB graduate students within local industry, and in developing joint programs in marine biomedicine. CMBB is also fostering collaborations with other cancer research foundations such as the Burnham Institute in La Jolla.

The New Science of Marine Microbiology

One of the most advanced areas within CMBB is the study of marine microorganisms in a program of interactive research involving chemistry, molecular biology, and environmental science. Researchers are engaged in understanding the genetic foundations of organisms adapted to life in the sea, including the deepest parts of the oceans. Scripps scientists were among the first to explore the remarkable world of deep-sea hydrothermal vents, where volcanism produces a unique realm of marine life. Recent studies have conclusively shown that organisms in these communities are physiologically and genetically unique, leading scientists to believe that they have great potential for novel commercial applications. Continued basic research with these organisms is opening an entirely new source for biomedical discoveries.

The Frontier of Biomedical Research

CMBB researchers have developed collaborative biomedical research programs involving studies of cell processes, molecular events in fertilization, and neurophysiology. These studies are aimed at acquiring a more fundamental understanding of the basic processes involved, and focus on understanding the causes of human disease and developing new treatments.

Wise Use of Marine Resources

The sea is a vast storehouse of precious resources with tremendous potential for humanity. Conservation is the responsibility of all who tap these resources. CMBB collecting efforts are conducted with the strictest discretion by trained biologists, divers, and technicians. Although live specimens are collected from the sea, the ultimate objective is not to harvest organisms, but to obtain the biochemical information they possess. This approach ensures marine resources that may prove valuable in the fight against disease will be available for generations to come.