In the fall of 2018, Nautilus Biosciences management and staff, members of the PEI Bioscience cluster, and international guests celebrated the official opening of the Nautilus Biosciences Croda Centre of Innovation for Marine Biotechnology.
“This is a milestone event as we welcome Croda International as our latest international investor in the outstanding technology platform and brainpower centre that PEI’s bioscience cluster has become,” says Rory Francis, Executive Director, PEI BioAlliance.
“Croda and Nautilus have worked together closely over the past six years to develop actives with applications in skin care and hair care, and more recently, in crop care,” says Sandra Breene, President, Personal Care, Croda International, PLC.
“Nautilus has become a very valuable contributor of the global research team within Croda. Acquiring the business was a big step in advancing Croda’s position in the field of marine biotechnology, particularly as it gives us exclusive access to the marine microbial library based at UPEI.”
It is hoped that the first commercial product will be launched in the next couple of years as part of the range of personal care actives sold under the Sederma brand.
“Nautilus has 10 world-class scientists, each with unparalleled experience in blue biotechnology,” says Sandra. “The team will be able to bring new patented products to market, along with Croda’s well-known green and white biotechnology, giving us a wider spectrum of capabilities within this field of science.”
“Part of the reason I moved to PEI was because of how academia, industry, and government work side by side in this fantastic building,” says Dr. Russell Kerr, Research Fellow, Nautilus Biosciences Croda.
Dr. Kerr introduced some recently acquired technology. “Our new state-of-the-art liquid handling robot allows Nautilus staff to get results much more quickly with much greater precision. Microbes are fermented, extracted, and screened for natural products that can be used as actives for use in a range of industries, including personal care, crop care, and areas we have not imagined yet.
“Adding this robot does not mean we are losing people. We are adding to the complement of employees as they acquire new skill sets in operating the robot.”
Nautilus, founded in 2007 by Dr. Kerr, focuses on the discovery and development of marine microbial diversity to develop new natural products. Scientists at Nautilus collect microbial samples, culture and purify them, determine their identity, ferment them, and extract and test for active ingredients that can benefit animal and human health.
About the staff
“The Nautilus staff has been together for many years,” says Russ. “Most have been with the company since day one.”
Staff have a variety of education backgrounds, such as Bachelors, Masters and PhDs in chemistry or microbiology, as well as Engineering and Bioscience Technology diplomas. Job titles include Research Scientists, Research and Technical Managers, and Team Leaders.
Stephanie Duffy has worked for Nautilus since 2011. She earned a double major in Biology and Chemistry at UPEI, and then took the bioscience technology course at Holland College to get hands-on experience. She works as a Research Scientist in the Nautilus fungal microbiology lab located at the Atlantic Veterinary College.
“The staff has all been together a long time, and a few of us even went to school together. With the support of this multinational corporation Croda, our day-to-day duties have not changed significantly. We get to work on the same projects we have been all along. We can now tap into Croda’s resources, and we hope to be helpful to other divisions of the company.”
Brad Haltli, Research and Technology Manager at Nautilus, earned his undergraduate degree at what is now Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. He did his graduate research at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
After graduation, he worked in the natural products division of a pharmaceutical company in New York. “That is where my industrial experience with natural products began,” says Brad. “I moved to PEI, worked as a research manager in a UPEI lab, and then began working with Nautilus.”
Martin Lanteigne has been with Nautilus for 10 years. He earned a BioTechnology diploma at New Brunswick Community College in Grand Falls, New Brunswick. Recently, he took in-depth training in the US to learn to operate and program the robot.
Martin, who was doing the testing manually before the robot was installed, had developed repetitive stress injury. Now that he has learned to program the robot, testing that could take a person a half day can now be done in 40 minutes.
For more about PEI BioAlliance, visit www.peibioalliance.com.