UVic centre plays key role in new "omics" network


UVic leadership in genomics and proteomics research took another big leap forward late last month with the announcement of a new national Genomics Innovation Network (GIN).

The $15.5-million network is made up of 10 nodes, each of which is receiving core operational funding from Genome Canada, with matching funds from various public and private sector partners.

One of the nodes is the Proteomics Centre, which combines the cuttingedge research and service strengths of two BC facilities—the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre and the Proteomics Core Facility at UBC. The unified centre will receive $2 million in GIN funding.

Proteomics is the study of all the proteins—antibodies, enzymes and structural molecules—that are directed by genes to keep cells functioning and healthy. It is applicable to just about every area of biochemical investigation.

Housed at the Vancouver Island Technology Park and led by UVic biochemist and proteomics pioneer Dr. Christoph Borchers, the UVic- Genome BC Proteomics Centre has provided cutting-edge proteomics technologies to academic and industry clients since 2001, serving researchers in Canada and 24 countries around the world.

Through ongoing investment from Genome Canada, Genome BC and other sources, the UVic centre is now the best-equipped proteomics research facility in Canada, with $10 million worth of specialized equipment. This includes 16 mass spectrometers, sophisticated instruments that can identify a protein, or part of a protein, by its molecular weight.

Since 2011, the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre has provided services for more than 300 research projects in health, agriculture, energy, environment and forestry.

Both the UVic and UBC facilities will continue to offer their current services, but the new organizational structure will allow for closer integration, says Borchers, who leads the unified centre. “This new arrangement provides clients with an expanded range of proteomics services in a ‘onestop shop,’ and creates a central hub for proteomics research in Canada.”

Borchers is currently establishing a clinical proteomics lab at McGill University’s Jewish General Hospital, which will act as a clinical translation partner for the new Proteomics Centre by validating proteomics-based tests on patients.

The Proteomics Centre will also work closely with other GIN nodes to enhance the development and application of genomics and proteomics technologies in Canada.

Borchers is also co-lead of another GIN node, the Alberta-based Metabolomics Innovation Centre, which will receive close to $2 million in funding.

Participation in the Genomics Innovation Network builds on UVic’s strengths as a national leader in the development, use and application of proteomics technologies for improving human and environmental health.

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Keywords: genetics, proteomics, funding, biochemistry

People: Christoph Borchers

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