New UVic research chair to focus on health


David Goodlett has been appointed the Don and Eleanor Rix BC Leadership Chair in Biomedical and Environmental Proteomics at UVic. Credit: Jennifer van Eyk, Cedars-Sinai.

Using cutting-edge technology to study proteins and lipids to better understand diseases like cancer and environmental challenges such as climate change will be top focus areas for David Goodlett, a globally-known proteomics researcher appointed as a new research chair at the University of Victoria. 

Taking a “systems biology” approach, Goodlett will advance UVic research and industry partnerships by combining his boundary-pushing research in genomics, proteomics and lipidomics—often referred to as the “omics” branch in biological sciences—as the Don and Eleanor Rix BC Leadership Chair in Biomedical and Environmental Proteomics. 

“David is a visionary in his field. His multidisciplinary, transformative research and leadership qualities will help take UVic’s strength in health sciences research to the next level to the benefit of our students, faculty and broader local and global community,” says Lisa Kalynchuk, UVic’s vice-president research. 

Goodlett, who will take over his role at UVic in the fall, uses high-powered mass spectrometry to examine biological molecules like proteins and lipids and how they interact with different environments in many areas from single cell analysis in blood doping to microbial diagnostics to sepsis. The leadership chair supports a research and training program at UVic primarily through the UVic Genome BC Proteomics Centre of which Goodlett is director. 

Proteomics is the study of all the proteins—including antibodies, enzymes and specifically their functions—that are directed by genes to keep cells functioning properly and the host healthy. It is applicable to just about every area of biomedical investigation including human health, agriculture, fisheries and forestry. The systems biology approach allows for more comprehensive study of organisms and their environment. 

The existing role of chair was originally created with the $4.5 million endowment—split equally by the Rix Family Foundation and the BC government’s Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF), which was established in 2010.  

“David Goodlett brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the university,” says Michelle Mungall, minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness. “BC universities provide essential contributions to advancing innovation, so it’s no wonder they are attracting talent like Dr. Goodlett. This is a great relationship that will benefit BC and beyond.” 

Advancing biological sciences 

Goodlett joins UVic from the University of Maryland - Baltimore (UMB) where he was most recently a professor of microbial pathogenesis in the dental school and prior to that held the Isaac E. Emerson Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, an endowed chair from 2013-2016 at UMB. He has been recognized through numerous awards and appointments including at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he chaired an international scientific adviser board overseeing development of proteomic technologies, the Academy of Finland and TEKES, which funded his position as a Finland Distinguished Professor to study pediatric diabetes, as well as University of Turku. Currently at the University of Gdansk in Poland, Goodlett is part of the International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science seeking to further the science behind silencing cancers. 

“A part of understanding the biology of disease requires us to examine the intricacies of proteins and lipids. To do this well, we need enough material to work with and in the ‘omics’ world this can be a challenge,” says Goodlett. “A priority for me is to develop technologies so we can analyze materials at the single cell level. This will vastly improve the information we get to contribute to better research outcomes across a range of topics—from studying grizzly bears to oceans to diseases impacting human health.” 

Goodlett has also taken his ideas to market through two startups. Deurion of Seattle, Washington is developing ion sources for mass spectrometry applications and Pataigin, based in Baltimore, is developing microbial diagnostics. 

“David’s impressive track record and extensive experience in biological sciences makes him an ideal fit for this new role. As an internationally recognized researcher, his work will help UVic advance key research projects and secure vital industry partnerships to bring innovation from the lab into the real world,” says Raghwa Gopal, Innovate BC’s president and chief executive officer. 

The UVic Genome BC Proteomics Centre is a world-class facility used by regional, national and international academic and industry researchers. The centre, located at UVic’s Vancouver Island Technology Park, is one of the best equipped mass spectrometry focused research facilities in Canada. 

“UVic Genome BC Proteomics Centre is a national leader in targeted mass spectrometry and the development of new proteomic assays,” says Perry Howard, chair of the UVic’s Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. “David will spearhead the development of new system biology technologies to address some of the most difficult and persistent issues faced by the Canadian health care system and to explore the abundant natural biodiversity of BC’s environmental resources.”

A media kit containing high-resolution photos is available on Dropbox.

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Keywords: research, health, proteomics, industry partnerships, science faculty

People: David Goodlett

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