Drugs from the sea: What do we lose when coral reefs die?


Marc Slattery

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The evolution of multidrug-resistant infectious diseases has required the continued search for sources of new drugs and coral reefs are the focus of recent attempts to identify drugs from the sea. However, coral reefs worldwide are declining due to increasingly common threats from climate change, pollution, disease, and overfishing. Conservation and sustainable use of these important coral reef habitats are crucial for many reasons, not the least of which is their role in mankind’s current and future attempts to stem the tide of drug resistance. Marc Slattery is a Professor of BioMolecular Sciences at the University of Mississippi’s School of Pharmacy. His interdisciplinary research program focuses on biotechnological potential of natural products isolated from marine invertebrates. Slattery uses clues from the field, as well as biochemical profiling, to target likely biomedical activity in the samples he collects. His work has taken him to the tropical Indo-Pacific and Caribbean, temperate, and polar ecosystems, and he has utilized SCUBA, technical diving, and submersibles to access samples from shallow and deep coral reefs, kelp forests, marine caves, ice covered oceans and lakes, and the deep sea. Slattery is committed to outreach and support for local stakeholders relative to fair and equitable shared development of partner countries’ marine genetic resources.

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