Congratulations to graduate student Connie Sobsey for being awarded a Rix Family Leading Edge Student award for the next 2 years of her graduate studies.

This award is a result of the Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF). Last year, on July 21, 2011 Minister Pat Bell announced the appointment of Dr. Christoph Borchers, one of the world’s top proteomics researchers, as the Don and Eleanor Rix B.C. Leadership Chair in Biomedical and Environmental Proteomics. The chair comes with an endowment of $4.5 million – $2.25 million donated by the Rix Family Foundation established by Dr. Donald Rix, a leading physician, entrepreneur and philanthropist, who passed away in 2009. The Province provided the other $2.25 million from its Leading Edge Endowment Fund. Read more on VITP’s Blog here.

What is the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre?

Located at UVic’s Vancouver Island Technology Park near Victoria, the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre is a world-class facility used by regional, national and international academic and industry researchers. It is also a national proteomics platform for large-scale research projects funded by Genome Canada and the Canadian government.

With equipment valued at more than $8 million and highly trained staff, the centre provides modern mass spectrometry, separation sciences, bioinformatics, information technology and project management.

Mass spectrometers are powerful instruments that can identify a protein or part of a protein by its molecular weight. They are so accurate they can measure the mass of a proton or less. The centre has the highest concentration of mass spectrometers at any Canadian university and one of the highest in North America.

The centre’s research program focuses on the use of proteomics tools and technologies in the life sciences, including agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and human and environmental health.

The centre’s research partners include scientists-especially biologists and clinicians-in universities, hospitals, government labs and industry in areas with potentially significant benefits to B.C. and Canada.

The centre is funded by provincial, national and international funding agencies, including Genome Canada and Genome BC, the National Institutes of Health, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund and UVic.

What is proteomics?

Just as genomics is the study of all the genetic material in a plant or animal, proteomics is the study of all the proteins – antibodies, enzymes and structural molecules – directed by the genes to keep cells functioning and healthy.

The genome is a relatively static array of instructions for creating proteins and telling them what to do. But the proteome is a dynamic entity that at any given moment in time reflects the environment a cell is in.

There are an estimated one million proteins in the human proteome. Some are needed for routine cell functions. Others are critical to special processes such as cell division. The role of many others is unknown.

Proteins can occur in different locations within the body at different stages in a person’s life and can change within a single cell. Some are abundant. Others – the ones most often associated with disease – exist in tiny amounts.

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.

What is the Leading Edge Endowment Fund, and what is a B.C. leadership chair?

The Province of British Columbia has invested more than $1.8 billion in research and innovation in the past decade. This includes $56.25 million to establish 29 permanent research chairs under the Leading Edge Endowment Fund – some of the best-funded research chairs in Canada. Post-secondary institutions and external partners provide matching funding.

LEEF attracts world-class researchers to B.C., promotes economic growth and job creation, strengthens the province’s position as a centre of excellence in research, matches government funding with money from the private sector and individual donors, and promotes the unique roles that B.C. universities and colleges play in innovation in British Columbia.

Two types of chairs are funded by LEEF endowments: B.C. leadership chairs at the province’s four research-intensive universities to further medical, social, environmental and technological research; and regional innovation chairs to create opportunities in communities through B.C.’s colleges, institutes and teaching-focused universities.

 Learn More:

Leading Edge Endowment Fund: www.leefbc.ca

University of Victoria Genome BC Proteomics Centre:www.proteincentre.com

Dr. Donald Rix biography: www.therixcenter.com/about/about-dr-don-rix

Government of B.C. Research and Innovation:www.tted.gov.bc.ca/tri/research