Martek Biosciences Corp.

Algae : More than an Aquarium Nuisance

Creative, innovative risk-takers who have a vision and a passion to succeed often see value in things we find a nuisance. When you hear the word “algae”, what comes to your mind first? You probably crinkle your nose and think of the stuff that grows in aquariums and pools that you’re always trying to get rid of… and fast.

That’s not what some scientists saw in 1985, when they were directed by defense and aerospace contractor Martin Marietta to study the ways algae could be used in long-term space flight. These scientists, based on their research, came to see how beneficial algae could be in promoting good health. With such belief in the potential of these photosynthetic organisms, these scientists bravely set out on their own, leaving their jobs, to form a company called Martek Biosciences Corporation.

Martek Biosciences discovers, develops, and brings to market life-science based products for health and well-being. They develop nutritional products and are a leader in fermentation technology. They continue to research and develop products derived from microalgae.

They have the patents on two fermentable strains of microalgae they developed which produce oils rich in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). They have also developed and patented a process for a fungus that produces a type of oil rich in ARA (arachidonic acid). This DHA and ARA are nutrients valuable for infant development. DHA is an important nutrient for use all through a person’s life.


The year 1992 was an important one for Martek Biosciences Corporation. That year they had their first license agreement for the use of their proprietary blend of DHA and ARA infant formula. Today, their “life’s DHA™” and “life’s ARA™” are in over 90 percent of infant formulas. Both of these healthy fatty acids are also part of infant formulas sold in more than 70 countries worldwide.

Martek Biosciences still has dreams to pursue as visionary entrepreneurs in the biosciences field. They want to identify and create new and valuable products for the nutraceutical, pharmaceutical and functional foods markets. They also are working hard to investigate nutrients and bioactive compounds that can aid in the areas of inflammation, cognitive function and cardiovascular health. They also seek to continue clinical research to explore the additional health benefits of DHA beyond brain and eye development in infants.

Martek Biosciences Corporation began when scientists saw value in something most of us would not…algae. They took a risk and pursued their dreams. Today, headquartered in Maryland, with additional facilities in Colorado, Kentucky, and South Carolina, they continue to contribute to the local economies they operate in as well as the national economy in the U.S. They are also contributing greatly to the advancement of health in people around the world.