CHICAGO — Shedd Aquarium is pleased to announce it has received a $2 million commitment from The Grainger Foundation in support of its recently launched Aquarium Microbiome Project (AMP) – believed to be the world’s first comprehensive look at microbiomes in a controlled aquarium ecosystem and how they influence complex environmental conditions and animal health. The three-year commitment will advance the planned research by nearly a decade, enabling the expansion of Shedd’s unique, on-site aquatic microbial ecology laboratory and bioinformatics capabilities.
The commitment also positions Shedd as the only accredited aquarium in the nation with onsite capabilities focused on performing high-level hypothesis testing and laboratory sequencing analysis for the built or managed aquatic environment.
“This funding is significant to uncovering mysteries surrounding the tiny, living organisms that are all around us, how they influence the well-being of animals and their homes, and most importantly, how those discoveries may lead to important advances that benefit human health overall,” said Dr. Bill Van Bonn, Vice President for Animal Health and head of the A. Watson Armour III Center for Animal Health and Welfare at Shedd. “We are excited and extremely grateful for the generosity of The Grainger Foundation and their dedication to advancing projects like this one that are critical to understanding how we can effectively manage these and other human environments in the best way possible.”
According to Dr. Van Bonn, results of the study will not only revolutionize how the zoological community manages environmental conditions for the optimal health of the animals in their care, but also translate to broader native ecological management decisions impacting the Earth’s rivers, lakes and oceans which make up 70-percent of the planet’s surface.
“We are most proud to support Shedd Aquarium’s research efforts,” said David Grainger, President of The Grainger Foundation.
AMP partners include Argonne National Laboratories, the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology and the United States Department of Agriculture.
The Grainger Foundation is a longtime supporter of Shedd. The organization was a Major Benefactor of the construction and opening of the Abbott Oceanarium in 1991, and provided additional support in 2010 for which the Grainger Sea Lion Cove and Grainger Beluga Encounter Habitat are named – both within the aquarium’s world-class marine mammal pavilion.
The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation, located in Lake Forest, Illinois, was established in 1949 by William Wallace Grainger, founder of W.W. Grainger, Inc., North America’s leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair, and operating products, with operations also in Asia, Europe and Latin America. Since its founding, the Foundation has provided substantive support to a broad range of organizations including museums and educational, medical, and human services institutions.
Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
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