The Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology was created in 1997 using funds from the Research Council of Norway, the Ministry of Education and Research, and the University of Bergen.Sars research includes studies of the basic biological processes in marine organisms using functional and comparative molecular methods. Developmental mechanisms and their evolution are at present the major focus of our research. Sars research involves studies on the tunicate Oikopleura dioica, the zebrafish and salmon, and two cnidarians including the sea anemone Nematostella. Marine species cannot be ignored by molecular biologists because most animal branches are predominantly or exclusively marine. However, adequate marine model systems have to be utilised or newly established, to permit genetic analysis just like in terrestrial laboratory animals.