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GRI research board announces request for proposals for BP's $500 million Gulf of Mexico research initiative

Release date:
25 April 2011

BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance announced today that the independent Research Board of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI) has released its Request for Proposals for studies into the effects of the Deepwater Horizon incident and the potential associated impact on the environment and public health. The $500 million GRI is funded by BP and administered by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.


"We are pleased that the Research Board has reached this important milestone in the development of the GRI," said David Rainey, Vice President of Science, Technology, Environment, and Regulatory Affairs, for BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. "We are deeply grateful to the Research Board for their efforts to develop a rigorous, fair, and transparent scientific process."


Today's announcement details the provisions for administering the remaining years of the 10-year program. The independent Research Board of the GRI has created a selection process that includes an open Request for Proposals, peer review of the submissions, selection of the Research Consortia to study the five research themes, and award of funds during the summer of 2011.


"I have been very impressed by the commitment of every member of the Research Board to create the sustainable processes that now underpin a program of the highest possible scientific quality," said Rita Colwell, the Chair of the Research Board. "I could not have asked for a better team to take on this important challenge."


The Request for Proposals is available on the GRI Research Board website:

Request for Proposals


Upon completion of the 10-year GRI, BP will have made significant investments in scientific research to understand the impact of the incident and improve our understanding of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystems. Investments include:

  • $500 million to fund the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative over 10-years. The first $40 million in fast-track grants were given in June 2010 for the first year of the program to Louisiana State University ($5 million), the Northern Gulf Institute ($10 million), the Florida Institute of Oceanography ($10 million), the Alabama Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium ($5 million) and the National Institutes of Health ($10 million). BP is reviewing the status of year one block grants to ensure there are no gaps in gathering time critical data;
  • More than $100 million has been spent to date on water, sediment soil, air and other sampling and analysis under the direction of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command. (The results of these activities are summarized in the two reports of the Operational Scientific Advisory Team, available at www.restorethegulf.gov;
  • More than $150 million has been spent or committed to date for sampling and study conducted by or with the Natural Resource Damage Trustees to investigate the impact of the incident on natural resources and human use of those resources.


The research themes for the GRI are:


  • The physical distribution and ultimate fate of contaminants associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident.
  • The chemical evolution and biological degradation of the contaminants.
  • The environmental effects of the contaminants on Gulf of Mexico ecosystems, and the science of ecosystem recovery.
  • Technology developments for improved detection, characterization, mitigation, and remediation of offshore oil spills.
  • Integration of the previous four themes in the context of human health.


"We have created a structure which facilitates the unique, scientific knowledge of Gulf State academic institutions to study and to ultimately contribute to the viability of the Gulf Coast," said Dr. Bill Walker, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and current Co-Chair of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Management Team.


The GRI Research Board members are:


Debra Benoit, MEd Nicholls State University


Peter Brewer, PhD Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute


Rita Colwell, PhD University of Maryland College Park


Richard Dodge, PhD Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center


John Farrington, PhD University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth


Kenneth Halanych, PhD Auburn University


David Halpern, PhD California Institute of Technology


William Hogarth, PhD University of South Florida


Jörg Imbeger, PhD University of Western Australia


Margaret Leinen, PhD Florida Atlantic University-Harbor Branch


Raymond Orbach, PhD University of Texas at Austin


Jürgen Rullkötter, PhD Inst. for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment


David Shaw, PhD Mississippi State University


John Shepherd, PhD University of Southampton


Robert Shipp, PhD University of South Alabama


Burton Singer, PhD University of Florida


Ciro Sumaya, MD, MPHTM Texas A&M Health Science Center


Denis Wiesenburg, PhD University of Southern Mississippi


Charles Wilson, PhD Louisiana State University


Dana Yoerger, PhD Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


All GRI-funded research is independent of BP, and the results will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals with no requirement for BP approval.

Further information:



BP US Press Office, (281) 366-4463, uspress@bp.com

Notes to editors:


  • The GRI was announced May 24, 2010
  • An agreement with the White House announced on June 16th established the condition that BP would consult with the various Gulf States on deployment of the research program. This agreement reflects the successful completion of that process.
  • In September 2010, BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance announced the creation of the independent, twenty-member Research Board
  • The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is a partnership of the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas with the goal of significantly increasing regional collaboration to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The independent scientific research will be conducted at academic institutions primarily in the US Gulf Coast states. However, appropriate partnerships with institutions based outside the US Gulf region will be welcome.
  • GRI is intended to promote the highest professional standards of independent, peer-reviewed scientific research.
    • Funds will be distributed using the practice of merit review by peer evaluation as described in the 2005 Report of the National Science Board (NSB-05-119).
    • Individual researchers will comply with professional standards as laid out in the National Academy of Sciences Publication - On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research (2009).
    • All GRI-funded research will be independent of BP. We place no constraints on the publication of such research, and expect the results to be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
  • Grants will be used to fund research, including sampling, modelling and other studies. Grants are not intended to fund the acquisition or construction of infrastructure such as ships or laboratories.
  • All of the grants and funding mentioned in this release are reflected in the 2010 full year pre-tax charge of $40.9bn related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.