The Manitoba Centre for Proteomics and Systems Biology last week opened a new, 10,000-square-foot facility after about two years of construction.
The facility was funded by a matching funds grant that totaled CA$7.6 million ($6.9 million). CA$3 million of the funds came from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, CA$800,000 and the 10,000 square feet of space came from a local hospital foundation called the Health Sciences Center Foundation, and another CA$3 million came from Manitoba Energy, Science and Technology.
The new facility is located on the seventh floor of the Buhler building on the medical campus of the University of Manitoba. It will initially house laboratory facilities for five principal investigators and 35 staff, said John Wilkins, the director of the center who is a professor in internal medicine, immunology, biochemistry, and medical genetics at the University of Manitoba.
Later on, the center may hire two additional principal investigators — one with expertise in bioinformatics and the other with expertise in chromatography, he added.
"The mass spec with MALDI capabilities will be dedicated to biomarker analysis and trying to develop approaches for large-scale production and characterization of monoclonal antibodies and autoantibodies. The trap will be used for a lot of post-translational modification work."
In terms of equipment, the new center will house two new mass spectrometers and one of the university's existing mass specs that will be brought over from the main campus.
Wilkins said he and his colleagues are currently in negotiations with several mass spec vendors, including Waters, Applied Biosystems, and Thermo Electron, to purchase one ion trap mass spec, and one mass spec with MALDI capabilities.
"The mass spec with MALDI capabilities will be dedicated to biomarker analysis and trying to develop approaches for large-scale production and characterization of monoclonal antibodies and autoantibodies," said Wilkins. "The trap will be used for a lot of post-translational modification work."
The existing mass spec — a Q-STAR that the center purchased from ABI in 2001 — will be used for renal transplantation, rheumatoid arthritis, and viral studies, Wilkins said.
The center is also planning on purchasing a new prOTOF mass spec from PerkinElmer that will be placed on the university's main campus. The prOTOF will mostly be used for work related to mass imaging that is being done by Werner Ens, a professor in the department of physics, Wilkins said.
The five principal investigators who will initially occupy the new space are Wilkins, Kevin Coombs, Oleg Krokhin, Peter Nickerson, and Hani El-Gabalawy.
Wilkins' work focuses on proteomic analysis and high-content image analysis of cell responses in a variety of immune processes; Coombs' work focuses on high-content analysis of cellular changes during viral infections; Krokhin's work focuses on the analysis of retention properties of different types of chromatography columns, and using that information to increase the confidence of protein identifications; Nickerson's work focuses on identifying and developing biomarkers for acute and chronic renal transplant rejection; and El-Gabalawy's work focuses on understanding the pathogenesis and developing biomarkers for early arthritis.
Other university researchers will also use the new facility, though their own laboratories are located elsewhere on campus, Wilkins said.
The Manitoba Centre for Proteomics and System Biology, which was originally called the Manitoba Centre for Proteomics, started out in 2001 with the purchase of a Q-STAR, Wilkins said. Then, in 2002, the center purchased a SELDI instrument from Ciphergen to do renal transplantation studies. The renal studies resulted in the discovery and validation of biomarkers that predict the onset of acute renal transplantation rejection.
In 2004, the center received the funds and undeveloped space for a new facility. It took about 40 weeks to develop the new space into new laboratories, Wilkins said.
— Tien Shun Lee ([email protected])