Life Science Research Partnership Targets New Breakthroughs

 

Murray Gibson, founding dean of the College of Science, Dan Shine, President of the Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry Division at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Barry Karger, Director of the Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis and the James L. Waters Chair in Analytical Chemistry, and Ian Jardine, vice president of Global R&D at Thermo Fisher Scientific at the technology alliance partnership dedication. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Murray Gibson, founding dean of the College of Science, Dan Shine, President of the Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry Division at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Barry Karger, Director of the Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis and the James L. Waters Chair in Analytical Chemistry, and Ian Jardine, vice president of Global R&D at Thermo Fisher Scientific at the technology alliance partnership dedication. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

by Angela Herring for news@Northeastern

Ear­lier this week, North­eastern University’s Bar­nett Insti­tute of Chem­ical and Bio­log­ical Analysis for­mally announced a tech­nology alliance part­ner­ship with Thermo Fisher Sci­en­tific, a multibillion-​​dollar ana­lyt­ical instru­men­ta­tion and product com­pany, based in San Jose, Calif., with cor­po­rate offices in Waltham, MA.

Researchers noted that mass-​​spectrometry — an ana­lyt­ical tech­nique that deter­mines mol­e­c­ular masses of com­pounds in a sample — is on the verge of a rev­o­lu­tion. The new instru­men­ta­tion being devel­oped at orga­ni­za­tions like Thermo Fisher will change the face of life-​​sciences research, they said. With this alliance, North­eastern sci­en­tists will play a crit­ical role in the direc­tion of this emerging field.

The devel­op­ments reflect a broader shift in the gen­eral nature of research col­lab­o­ra­tion, said Barry Karger, director of the insti­tute, which is inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized as a pre­mier center for research and advanced training in ana­lyt­ical chem­istry for bio­med­ical applications.

The cur­rent and future trend, said Karger, resem­bles a tri­angle between gov­ern­ment researchers, uni­ver­si­ties, and industry. “We think this is crit­ical, because nobody has all the answers,” he con­tinued, noting that acad­emia must work with the med­ical com­mu­nity to iden­tify prob­lems that need solving and with industry to build advanced technologies.

The alliance will focus on three research areas, including com­plex pro­tein char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, devel­oping methods for ana­lyzing trace amounts of bio­markers in pro­teomic sam­ples, and devel­oping new methods for ana­lyzing biosim­ilar drugs.

Researchers from the Bar­nett Insti­tute and Thermo Fisher, as well as mem­bers of the local biotech­nology and aca­d­emic com­mu­ni­ties, gath­ered for the announce­ment, a dis­cus­sion of the partnership’s expected impact, and a tour of the Bar­nett lab­o­ra­tory, where state-​​of-​​the-​​art instru­men­ta­tion is avail­able to advance life-​​science research.

Daniel Dai, second from right, a Prin­cipal Research Sci­en­tist at the Bar­nett Insti­tute, gives a tour of the facility. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Daniel Dai, second from right, a Prin­cipal Research Sci­en­tist at the Bar­nett Insti­tute, gives a tour of the facility. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

“I’d like to say a word of thanks not only for this ded­i­ca­tion but for many years of col­lab­o­ra­tion with our friends,” said Karger. “It cer­tainly has made a great dif­fer­ence in the research in my lab­o­ra­tory and others in the Bar­nett Institute.”

During the event, Karger and Thermo Fisher vice pres­i­dent and chief tech­nology officer Ian Jar­dine pre­sented high­lights of their insti­tu­tions’ respec­tive research activ­i­ties over the last sev­eral years, as well as expec­ta­tions for future inves­ti­ga­tions. “We’re only at the begin­ning of this journey in the appli­ca­tion of mass spec­trom­etry to life sci­ences,” said Jardine.

The part­ner­ship fol­lows on the heels of a long-​​standing rela­tion­ship between the two insti­tu­tions: In 1998, in honor of the Bar­nett Institute’s 25th anniver­sary, North­eastern alumnus and Thermo’s then-​​vice pres­i­dent John Hat­sopolous endowed a young scholars pro­gram aimed at estab­lishing the careers of up-​​and-​​coming ana­lyt­ical chemists.

“Building on rela­tion­ships with instru­ment and biotech com­pa­nies is a way not only to pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for coop and training, but also to bring to us the state-​​of-​​the-​​art tech­nology that allows us to do the most exciting sci­ence,” said Murray Gibson, dean of the Col­lege of Sci­ence, which is home to the Bar­nett Insti­tute. The Thermo Fisher alliance, he said, is a won­derful example of such a relationship.

The company’s mis­sion to “make the world healthier, cleaner and safer” is deeply aligned with that of North­eastern, where research is use-​​inspired and focused on solving global chal­lenges in health, secu­rity, and sustainability.

“This is a tremen­dous part­ner­ship, and we’re hon­ored to be working closely with a leading insti­tute like North­eastern,” said Dan Shine, pres­i­dent of the chro­matog­raphy and mass-​​spectrometry divi­sion at Thermo Fisher, which also has part­ner­ships with New York Uni­ver­sity, Princeton Uni­ver­sity, and the Uni­ver­sity of Wisconsin.

“These rela­tion­ships are really impor­tant to helping us under­stand the require­ments of leading aca­d­e­mics and helping us improve the instru­men­ta­tion we make, improve our soft­ware, and improve our appli­ca­tions knowl­edge,” Shine said. The Bar­nett Insti­tute of Chem­ical and Bio­log­ical Analysis has part­nered with Thermo Fisher Sci­en­tific to enable life-​​science appli­ca­tions with sophis­ti­cated instrumentation.

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