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Researchers win third annual Brockhouse award


Winnipeg, MB – A team of researchers at the University of Manitoba, along with their collaborators at MDS Sciex and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, have won the third annual Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering. The prize includes $250,000 in funding for future research activities.

Members of the team have spent more than a decade refining proteomics techniques that can be applied to a wide range of problems in medicine and biology. One of their greatest successes came in 2003 when team members, led by Kenneth Standing, were the first worldwide to determine the structure of the protein component of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus. Along the way, the team has also developed patented improvements to their key tool, the mass spectrometer.

In addition to Kenneth Standing, the University of Manitoba researchers being honoured with the Brockhouse Prize include chemists Harry Duckworth and Helene Perreault, physicists Werner Ens and Oleg Krokhin, and cell biologist John Wilkins. Other members of the winning team are Steve Haber, a plant virologist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and MDS Sciex scientists Igor Chernushevich, Alexandre Loboda and Bruce Thomson.

The involvement of MDS Sciex, which designs and manufactures mass spectrometers, has enabled some of the teams innovations to be incorporated into equipment that is used by researchers around the world.

“This years winners form a ‘virtuous circle’ where academic researchers and private sector engineers collaborate to develop the leading-edge equipment needed for new discoveries,” said Dr Suzanne Fortier, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), when she recently announced the prize. “Im especially impressed to see the team combine such a wide variety of disciplines, including physics, engineering, chemistry and cell biology.”

Named after Bertram Brockhouse, the Canadian Prairie-born Nobel laureate, the prize honours teams of researchers that combine different disciplines to produce achievements of international scientific or engineering significance.