Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology


The Sars-Fang Centre, a new institute at the Ocean University of China, will perform leading research in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology. It results from a major co-operative agreement with the University of Bergen, which will contribute both scientifically and financially to the establishment phase of the centre. The Sars-Fang Centre, to be located in Qingdao, will have a major interest in marine life processes and investigate them with experiments utilizing advanced molecular and cell biology like the Sars Centre in Bergen. Model organisms will include but will not be restricted to marine species.

Qingdao, Sars Centre

The research is organized to produce new knowledge, which can then be utilized in multiple ways, to promote a rational exploitation of the oceans via fisheries, aquaculture and marine biotechnology. For this, an important critical mass of scientists is in place at the Ocean University of China and in other institutes of Qingdao who can take advantage of fundamental discoveries within the Sars-Fang centre for commercial and societal gains. The Sars Centre in Bergen has acquired its reputation by working with non-standard model systems, mostly marine invertebrates. It is noteworthy that the formidable expansion of world aquaculture, to which China brought a major contribution, is based on breeding and growing invertebrates and seaweeds. Recent scientific advice points to mariculture of marine invertebrates and seaweeds as the most promising way to increase supplies of nutritious food and feed ingredients from the ocean.

The Sars Centre in Bergen follows a few principles, which will also apply for the Sars Fang Centre. Firstly the research is basic in nature, and uses marine species either as model systems or for comparative studies to illustrate the diversity of molecular mechanisms present across animals. The use of marine species for high level biological research is justified by characteristics considered advantageous in some research fields (for example in the sea urchin with its very large number of synchronous eggs allowing biochemical studies of the cell cycle) and for studies of long term evolution by the fact that most animal phyla are mostly or exclusively marine. The use of such organisms is, however, challenging and requires long term, stable and flexible funding to allow for the development of techniques and resources in these systems. It is this commitment to the advancement of non-established systems which has gained the Sars Centre international acclaim and will undoubtedly be a tradition continued in the Sars-Fang centre. Secondly the Sars Centre management, inspired by E.M.B.L. (the European Molecular Biology Laboratory), is based on hosting relatively young group leaders over periods of 10 years (6 years + 4 years pending evaluation), after which they can move out and obtain excellent faculty positions elsewhere. During this time, and because positions are not tenured, group leaders and their group members enjoy very good resources and a stimulating scientific environment.


Like the Sars Centre, the Sars Fang Centre is embedded in a rich university environment but also benefits from higher levels of autonomy and flexibility. It is administratively placed outside colleges or faculties, and has its own board reporting directly to the leaderships of both the Ocean University of China and the University of Bergen. Its scientific activity is monitored, at least annually, by an external and international Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) comprising 8 leading scientists. The other major task of the SAC is to recommend new group leaders for appointment in the Sars Fang Centre. The selection is based on a CV, a short description of past research and a short proposal sent to Daniel.Chourrout@sars.uib.no (with copy to zmbao@ouc.edu.cn)that will be analyzed by SAC members, who will then come to Qingdao to interview shortlisted candidates (see links to job announcements below). If you are selected for a group leader position, you will be offered full scientific independence to implement your research proposal, and an attractive package of resources including postdocs, PhD students, technical and administrative support. To be among the pioneer PIs of the Sars-Fang Centre will undoubtedly carry a mark of prestige for your future career..