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Hollings Marine Laboratory

The Hollings Marine Laboratory studies the complex interaction between marine environments, aquatic organisms and their connections to human health. The research required to address the interactions requires an interdisciplinary approach that our partnership fosters.

The Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML) research mission is to develop advanced analytical tools for assessing impacts on coastal ecosystems and human health.

Major research programs include:
  • Ecosystem assessments of impacts of changing land use and environmental conditions (e.g. climate stressors) on coastal ecosystems and human health and well-being.
  • Marine animal health assessments, disease surveillance, epidemiology, immunology, and population modeling and associated correlations to ecosystem and human health.
  • Human dimensions research that integrates social, ecological and health sciences to establish the links between ecosystem health and human health and well-being.
  • Genomics and bioinformatics research exploring linkages between land development, harmful algal blooms, animal health, and human health impacts.
  • Natural product identification and evaluation focusing on algal species.

Studies of marine environments, aquatic organisms and their integral connections to human health have become increasingly complex, and the research required to address those project-specific questions requires an interdisciplinary approach in order to achieve success. No single organization possesses the span of scientific expertise needed.

The lab is a partnership between NCCOS, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and College of Charleston. Researchers from all partner institutions work side-by-side, combining expertise to conduct research they could not accomplish otherwise. The resulting synergy among the partner scientists results in exciting and innovative approaches that address issues of concern.

Annual Reports

In 2013, HML had a successful year continuing our mission of providing science and technology that sustains, protects and restores coastal ecosystems. Our research efforts have emphasized an understanding of the linkages between the condition of the coastal environment and human health. View our 2013 Annual Report.

HML's research highlights for 2012 are showcased in the Annual Report and include projects that advance NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science's (NCCOS) three priorities: pollution, harmful algal blooms (HABs), and climate change. Other projects address emerging issues or specific needs of the institutional partners, which are represented in the emerging and mission based (EMB) group.

Oceans and Human Health

Leadership: Dr. Lori Schwacke 843-762-4821

We are developing advanced analytical tools and modeling techniques to evaluate and predict marine ecosystem health. We are investigating the impacts of pollution (including emerging chemicals, toxins, and pathogens), harmful algal blooms, and climate change on coastal ecosystems and human health and well-being. By focusing on sentinel species and sentinel habitats, we are establishing early warning signals of environmental threats that can be incorporated into management decisions.

By supporting management decisions with new information, innovative tools and techniques, NCCOS is well positioned to serve as a liaison that promotes the protection, restoration and sustainability of marine animals, ecosystems and human communities.

Key actions and accomplishments:
  • Developed molecular tools applied for dolphins, sea lions, oysters, and other estuarine organisms, to understand gene-level responses to chemical and biological toxin exposures.
  • Conducted epidemiological studies to assess pollutant exposures and potential health effects in coastal dolphins in support of Natural Resource Damage Assessments and protected species management.
  • Isolated, purified, and characterized structure of toxins from marine algal species impacting animals and water supply systems.
  • Developed hydrological models to examine climate change and coastal development.
  • Conducted sentinel habitat/species research to assess condition and emerging contaminant risks for National Estuarine Research Reserves for mid-Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.
  • Developed a human well-being assessment which includes environmental parameters for SE and Gulf coast communities.

Facility and Personnel

Leadership: Dr. Jeff King, Acting Director - 843-762-8989

The Hollings Marine Laboratory is in Charleston, South Carolina was established in 2001 and is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). About 130 staff work out of the 103,000 square-foot laboratory.