Boost for WA proteomics

By Pete Young
Monday, 12 August, 2002

An $800,000 infusion of new equipment has boosted proteomics research capacity at Western Australia's State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre (SABC).

The arrival of the new instrumentation and the pending official launch of the co-located Centre for High-throughput Agricultural Genetic Analysis (CHAGA) at SABC consolidates the site's position as the hub of WA's agricultural biotech research activity.

The new equipment effectively fills an infrastructure gap between the centre's 2D gel technology and its mass spectroscopy equipment.

The Perkin-Elmer proteomics package, including spot cutting, analysis software and robotics systems, will allow the centre to select interesting protein patterns faster and more precisely from 2D gels and transfer them for mass spectroscopy identification.

SABC director Prof Mike Jones said the new equipment would keep WA at the cutting edge of the new science of proteomics - the study of the structure and function of proteins.

It will transform the SABC into the first full proteomics facility in WA and one of only four in Australia, he said.

The equipment was funded by a collaborative Federal Australian Research Council Large Equipment and Infrastructure Grant awarded to researchers from Murdoch University, UWA, Curtin University of Technology and Edith Cowan University, led by Prof Graham Wilcox (deputy director of the SABC).

The latest grant follows on from earlier ARC funding for microarray and sequencing technology and maintains SABC's 100 per cent success record for major ARC equipment grants, Jones said.

SABC is structured as a multi-user facility, or research hotel, which gives agbiotech researchers centralised access to $7 million to $8 million worth of infrastructure.

Dr David Berryman, lab manager for the SABC, said the strategy of housing big ticket items at the SABC provided opportunities for research groups to collaborate and consolidate research. It also gives small teams access to major equipment that they could not otherwise afford, he said.

SABC stakeholders include Murdoch University, the University of WA, Curtin University of Technology and the WA Department of Agriculture.

SABC's open access policy makes advanced proteomics equipment available for use by public or private researchers in WA. Among the private companies making use of the facility is Perth-based Proteomics International which offers peptide synthesis and protein identification services.

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