The first steps in organizing glycobiology research at UC San Diego occurred in 1990, with the formation of a glycobiology program within the Moores UC San Diego Cancer Center. However, the very nature of glycobiology is that it transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. Thus, many of the research activities conducted by the expanding faculty no longer fit under the designation of cancer research. Meanwhile, the program and the core resource generated interest from a wide variety of UCSD faculty, ranging from marine biologists to bioengineers to medical clinicians, representing a diverse spectrum of research activities.
Thus, an application for a glycobiology research and training center (GRTC) was submitted in late 1998, and formally in 1999. Since that time, the center has grown by incorporating many more scientists interested in glycobiology, not only from UCSD and the surrounding institutions, but also from all the other campuses of the University of California system. Throughout this period of growth the GRTC has maintained its core philosophy of remaining a "virtual center" without walls, and focused on its primary mission: to facilitate and enhance glycobiology research and training among University of California faculty with the minimum possible paperwork and bureaucracy.
The GRTC organized research unit (ORU) underwent its first five-year review in 2005. The overall report was highly favorable, recognizing the strong impact on UC faculty research, even while minimizing costs and avoiding the formation of unnecessary bureaucratic structures. The glycotechnology core resource was also commended for its huge positive impact on researchers all across the country. There were also highly favorable comments regarding teaching through courses in the medical school and main campus, expansion of research opportunities through the ORU-sponsored annual symposium, and the textbook co-authored and co-edited by the GRTC membership. The committee concluded that the GRTC "is now ... possibly the single most important center in the world, for research in glycobiology."