Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Surrey campus, which is where the school’s Applied Genomics Centre is based, is now home to a new research facility.
The research centre, according to a release from the university, is using molecular genetics (genomic) and cellular product (metabolomic), which is the study of DNA and other molecules within cells, to help develop solutions for various industries in the Metro Vancouver region.
Dr. Paul Adams, the scientific director of the Applied Genomics Centre, said the centre is focused on using genomic and metabolomic tools to help the agriculture sector to improve product development.
“A lot of what we do is DNA sequencing, so reading the genetic code of plants and animals and humans. Also measuring the output of cells in different conditions to see how the genetics might be influencing cell performance.”
One example, according to KPU, is the team has worked with companies in the dairy industry to “help identify bacteria in cows that may lead to health issues.”
Adams said the team is using genetic tools “to make it economical for the farmers,” while also increasing the sensitivity of the test “so they can detect them earlier.”
“Early detection means better management of the disease and less of an economic impact on farmers.”
KPU adds the centre is also working with several local nurseries, crop producers and breweries to develop “new unique hop plant varieties for use in the production of craft beers in B.C.”
Through the centre, students at KPU get “hands-on training in research.”
Adams said each of the centre’s research projects has at least one student working directly on it.
“These students are actually doing the work – collecting samples, running experiments, getting hands-on experience on state-of-the-art genomics and metabolomics equipment doing research in the lab, and also getting to do fieldwork at industry sites,” he said.
“They’re getting the opportunity to learn about experimental design, data collection, data analysis and working with relevant industry partners.”
One of those students is Monique Ly, who said the working in the centre has been an “invaluable experience.”
“I can’t help but smile at the expansive list of learning opportunities that come with this position,” she said.
“I am given projects that teach me a lot about the research process, the in’s and out’s of the industry and various practical, hands-on skills that I never would have learned in the classroom – especially so in a virtual setting.”
KPU says work at the centre has been funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, BC Knowledge Development Fund, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, BC Investment Agriculture Foundation, BC Ataxia Society.