By Julia Weber, Account Supervisor, PR (Earned) – Health Care, Boston

Racepoint does a breadth of pro bono work that brings with it interesting business, narratives and an even greater sense of fulfillment. For the past year or so, Racepoint has been working with Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute (GMGI) on a pro bono basis.

For those who may not know, GMGI’s mission is “to conduct world-class marine biotechnology research which expands the regional economy” – the institute was created and built around the belief that the ocean represents a new source of opportunity and there is vast potential in marine science discovery powered by genomics.

This is a natural fit for Racepoint’s practice for many reasons, including GMGI’s vision of being a pioneer in marine biomedical research as well as their mission of empowering local development in the Gloucester community. The agency team has been helping them tell both of these narratives, which are outlined below.

Marine Biomedical Research

Roughly 75% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, yet the ocean remains largely unexplored for drug discovery. Some of the largest biomedical hubs, (i.e. Kendall Square) are still mainly researching the land (think: rainforest), even though the ocean has proved a valuable resource. There is great biomedical potential in marine exploration, for example in anti-aging and beginning to solve the puzzle of cancer.

GMGI scientists are leading the charge in exploring the ocean’s microbiome to provide research to inform potential treatments – possibly cures – of devastating diseases. One example of their work is the sea urchin, which provides huge potential for research models, specifically in trying to understand cancer. Sea urchins (and clams) are one of the closest non-vertebrate’s related to humans and live really long with little to no indication of disease.

This sea urchin research has great implications in human health, medicine and life span exploration, and even has the potential to be the go-to “mouse model of the sea” by studying specific anti-cancer molecules and immune system equivalents to explore how these animals stay so healthy for so long.

Local Economy Empowerment & GMGI’s Academy

The biotechnology industry generates around $140 billion in revenue and U.S. biotechnology firms employ over 1.66 million people – with the ever-growing demand for rapid innovation and skilled professionals. For Boston, think about the booming growth of Kendall Square in the past decade, as well as other biotech hubs across the country.

Simultaneously, Gloucester is America’s oldest seaport and fell on tough times with the struggling fishing industry. After years of prosperity, the opportunities for the town and people were rapidly diminishing, living in a depressed economy and searching for a renewed identity. GMGI relocated to Gloucester, seeing the marine intelligence and potential for a well-respected, modern biomedical research hub in this town.

GMGI created Gloucester Biotechnology Academy to vocationally train local students to arm them with practical experience and prepare a skilled life science workforce to help meet the growing demand and bring advanced research around sustainable fishing as well as biomedical discoveries. The company has also been able to bring high profile people, grants and STEM opportunities to the community.

GMGI places high value on maintaining the fishing identity of the town, using research and technology to optimize the fishing process, while simultaneously redefining Gloucester as a place with top biomedical research and talent. All centered around the town’s historic knowledge of the ocean.

Racepoint and GMGI’s Partnership

As shown from GMGI’s powerful narratives around biomedical research and the local Gloucester economy, this has been a very fun account to work on, and Racepoint has been able to deliver consistent results. Within only a few months of pitching these two key story angles, Racepoint secured interviews with the Boston Business Journal and The Bio Report podcast, and the following coverage:

Racepoint is continuing as a strategic partner to GMGI, and are beginning media support in the New Year with a profile of an Academy student, as well as providing council for a few upcoming announcements. Stay tuned for more on the possibilities the magnificent ocean brings for human health!

About the Author

Julia Weber

Julia Weber is an Account Supervisor in the health care practice, working on accounts such as CorTechs Labs, GMGI, NeuroBo, Sermo and Tribeca. While her responsibilities spread across a range of client account work, her main focus has been media relations and content development. Julia graduated from Dartmouth College in 2015 having studied anthropology, film and media studies, neuroscience, and earned a Global Health Certificate from the John Sloan Dickey Center of International Understanding. You can find her on social: Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.