Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

October 29, 1999

CFI funds state-of-art mass spectrometer

The University of Guelph has received its single largest award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation's (CFI) New Opportunities program to purchase a state-of-the-art mass spectrometer.

The spectrometer, an instrument that measures mass of molecules, will help further strengthen Guelph's analytical capabilities in molecular biology and biotechnology.

CFI announced earlier this month that a team of U of G researchers will receive $287,697 from CFI's New Opportunities program to purchase the equipment. The program was designed to provide infrastructure funding for young researchers.

The research team expects to receive a total of $719,244 including matching funding from the Ontario Innovation Trust and funding and in-kind contributions from industry partners and the University. CFI and its provincial counterpart each fund up to 40 per cent of a project.

The new mass spectrometer will be used by nine co-applicants and 14 other researchers in eight departments spanning four colleges across campus the College of Biological Science, the College of Physical and Engineering Science, the Ontario Agricultural College and the Ontario Veterinary College.

All plan to use the instrument and recent developments in genomics-proteomics to identify and analyze proteins. The device will help U of G scientists remain competitive in this rapidly growing field, in which researchers use information about an organism's genome to analyze gene function.

"We will have a great genomics-proteomics facility here," said Prof. Joseph Yankulov, Molecular Biology and Genetics, lead investigator in the CFI application. He hopes to have the new facility running by summer 2000.

The award stresses that U of G "is going in the right direction, studying biological phenomena on a molecular level," Yankulov said. " The amount of the award clearly indicates that the University of Guelph is recognized by the government as a good place for these studies."

Scientists will be able to identify proteins unequivocally by comparing information collected from the mass spectrometer with existing genome databases, including the human genome and those of many other organisms.

By precisely snipping samples into fragments for analysis, the instrument will offer researchers a relatively easy and inexpensive way to identify proteins much more rapidly and efficiently than current techniques.

The conventional way of identifying a protein sequencing the order of each amino acid present in a protein has been a tedious process at best, and a far less sensitive method than will be afforded by the new equipment, Yankulov said. Currently, a crop or animal scientist finding an unknown protein might have to spend a year accumulating and purifying the protein before analysis is possible. The new instrument will allow researchers to use even minute quantities of material and identify entire proteins in a single day.

The device is also expected to attract new faculty to U of G. In particular, Guelph is recruiting five new researchers interested in molecular biology and genetics studies.

Contact: Prof. Joseph Yankulov Molecular Biology and Genetics (519) 824-4120, Ext. 6466

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3338

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