NEPTUNE will train a new generation of biologists through cutting edge research on marine animal models. The network unites 8 leading European labs with complementary expertise in evolutionary developmental biology (EvoDevo), bioinformatics, functional neurobiology, and palaeontology; four leading visiting researchers from Europe and the US; twos industrial associated partners: Sigma-Aldrich, specialised in advanced genetic manipulation technology, and the leading manufacturer of microscopy systems, Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH.

The transfer of state-of-art technologies – genetic manipulation, next generation sequencing and imaging – to a range of marine species has opened the possibility of addressing major unsolved questions in evolution and functional neurobiology of marine larvae. Modern marine science provides a unique and exciting context for high level, multidisciplinary and intersectorial research training.

NEPTUNE fellows will be trained in diverse reverse genetics and imaging techniques in new marine animal models, and will apply these to research topics ranging from the evolution of larval body plans to the characterization of visual and other sensory systems. They will explore the genetic basis for evolutionary change embedded in a strong evolutionary conceptual framework. Fellows will benefit from opportunities to work in an industrial setting and to collaborate with the private sector partners.

The network will provide a structured environment for training by research, targeted intra- and intersectorial secondments, mentoring and career guidance, and for development of complementary skills (science communication, management, mansucript/grant writing, presentation and outreach). The network will provide training and expertise through annual graduate schools and 4 Marine Station-based summer courses with industry participation open to the broader community, continuing a tradition of excellence already established by the partners.