'Keys to cures' -- an online expedition to the frontier of biomedical research

How far would you go to find a cure for cancer? How far would you go to discover new species and to preserve a unique ecosystem? Dr. Shirley Pomponi and an international team of scientists faced these questions and came up with an answer: 3000 feet...straight down. That's how deep they'll be diving into the waters of the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico, prospecting for powerful new drugs and performing a pioneering submersible-based biodiversity survey of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The rest of us will only have to travel as far as the nearest computer to join in this noble scientific adventure.

@Sea, (http://www.at-sea.org) , a website sponsored by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (HBOI), will have a correspondent on board the Research Vessel EDWIN LINK, transmitting daily dispatches from Dr. Pomponi's ambitious science cruise. From August 5 - 25, @Sea will provide a window into the world of science during every stage of this complex field operation--each submersible launch, each scuba dive, each breakthrough discovery or unexpected challenge.

Coral reef ecosystems provide a compelling setting for biomedical research. Many adult reef inhabitants spend their lives permanently affixed to the spot where they settled as juveniles. Since they cannot move to escape predators, to accommodate new neighbors, to seek out mates, or to avoid disease, these animals have evolved complex arsenals of chemical agents to compensate for their immobility. Indeed, life on a coral reef has been likened to nonstop chemical warfare. Among the millions of untested, powerful chemical compounds used by reef animals, scientists hope to find potent new medicines to kill tumors, dull pain, fight inflammation and ward off infections.

In addition to their search for new medicines from the sea, mission scientists will be cataloging sea life, using Harbor Branch's JOHNSON-SEA-LINK (JSL) submersible to study u

Contact: Susan J. Hanson
561-465-2400 x206
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

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