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Source: University of Victoria

Brain Gain: UVic Attracts Scientific Star From the U.S.

October 25, 2006

The University of Victoria has attracted one of the world’s leading protein chemists to head the UVic-Genome British Columbia Proteomics Centre.

Dr. Christoph Borchers, formerly director of the UNC-Duke Proteomics Facility at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a pioneer in the burgeoning field of proteomics research, is the new director of the UVic centre.

"This is a tremendous scientific gain for BC and for Canada," says Dr. Martin Taylor, UVic’s Vice-President Research. "Christoph is a star in his field who was attracted to UVic by the exceptional proteomics research capacity that we have established in partnership with Genome BC. We are extremely pleased to have a scientist of his calibre."

"As an investor in, and supporter of, the proteomics centre we are delighted that a scientist of Dr. Borchers’s stature has been drawn to the vibrant life sciences cluster emerging on Canada’s West Coast," says Dr. Don Riddle, Chief Scientific Officer for Genome British Columbia. "He is committed to maximizing the capability of the centre to play a key role in public health and education in the province and in Canada."

Proteomics is the study of the structure and function of proteins. Just as every living thing has a complete set of DNA known as its genome, we all carry a full complement of proteins known as the proteome—the enzymes, antibodies and molecules that make up our cells.

Proteomics research is applicable to just about every area of biochemical investigation, including health, agriculture, fisheries and forestry. In medicine, it is fundamental to the development of new diagnostic tests and drugs to detect and treat diseases such as cancer.

The UVic-Genome British Columbia Proteomics Centre is a state-of-the-art proteomics facility situated at the UVic-owned Vancouver Island Technology Park. It is the longest-running protein research facility in Canada, providing analytical services to more than 200 academic, industrial and government laboratories in North America and Europe.

Five years ago the centre’s mandate was expanded to provide state-of-the-art technology in proteomics research to support Genome BC’s large-scale research projects. More than $7 million has been invested in the centre by Genome Canada, Genome BC, MDS Sciex, UVic and other funding sources.

"The commitment by UVic and Genome BC to large-scale proteomics research made this opportunity irresistible to me," says Borchers. "They recognize that proteomics research is difficult and expensive, and that we need very sophisticated tools and highly skilled people to do it."

The centre houses protein separation, analysis and synthesis technologies, along with several powerful mass spectrometers—sophisticated instruments that can identify a protein, or part of a protein, by its molecular weight. It currently employs eight staff, and more will be added, including three top research scientists from North Carolina.

Borchers plans to broaden the scope of the centre to include metabolomics (the study of smaller molecules produced by proteins during metabolism), nutrigenomics (the study of diet and genes), and bioinformatics (the science of analysing biological data using advanced computer techniques).

"This is a more holistic, systems biology approach that will allow us to address a range of biomedical problems," says Borchers. "Proteomics is going to have a huge impact on science and on our lives , and I see great potential for this centre and UVic to lead the way."



Media Contacts:
Dr. Christoph Borchers (Proteomics Centre) at (250) 483-3221 or
(Dr. Borchers is available for interviews at the proteomics centre)
Valerie Shore (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-7641 or
Jenny Boon (Communications, Genome BC) at (604) 637-4378 or

Proteomics Backgrounder



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