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About us

The national marine biobank, Marbank, is part of the Institute of Marine Research, one of the largest marine research centres in Europe. The Institute of Marine Research has a staff of around 700 and a wide range of research facilities and laboratories of high international standard. The six research vessels owned and operated by the institute and the field stations are joint facilities for the research of the institute.

Photo: Robert A Johansen, Copyright: Robert A Johansen, Marbank

Marbank is located in Tromsø and was established in 2003 in close cooperation with the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs. The establishment was initiated by the University of Tromsø, the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Institute of Marine Research. The objective for establishing Marbank as a national biobank facility was to secure and make available largely unexplored and valuable marine resources from Norwegian waters. Marbank has since 2005 been located in Tromsø Science Park where we have our offices, laboratory areas and storage facilities.

Back in 2005 Marbank initiated the systematic collection of marine organisms from Arctic and sub-Arctic areas through cooperation with existing marine institutions. Surveys for collecting samples are carried out every year on a regular basis. From a cautious start in 2005 a total of hundreds of kilos of new biomass are now typically collected on cruises throughout the sampling season from April to October. 
The stored and catalogued samples are distributed to academia and industry. Marbank has been involved in several bioprospecting projects; the largest project being the cooperation with MabCent-SFI (a centre for research based innovation on marine bioactives and drug discoverey) that was initiated in 2007 and is running until 2015.

In 2009 the Norwegian Government launched a national strategy for marine bioprospecting. Included in the strategy was the establishment of a network of Norwegian marine collections with Marbank appointed a coordinating role.
Until 2012, Marbank was kindly hosted by the University of Tromsø. Given a more extended national role, Marbank was in 2012 transferred from a having a “project-status” within the University of Tromsø to a more permanent institutional organisation as a part of the Institute of Marine Research.