Volume 95, Issue 34

Thursday, November 1, 2001
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Masturbators lurk, paths remain unlit

Smokers burned by new law

Lindros' lawyer talks shop

The world at war

Downtown noise pisses off cranky locals

Alum loves proteins, donates cash

News briefs

Alum loves proteins, donates cash

By Tola Afolabi
Gazette Staff

Studying and understanding proteins will be made easier at Western thanks to a new, $1.3 million research facility.

The Dr. Don Rix Protein Identification Facility officially opened yesterday in Western's Siebens-Drake Research Institute. The facility provides 50,000 square feet of research space and was made possible in part by a $1 million donation from Don Rix, a 1957 graduate of Western's medical program.

"[Rix] is the lead donor, the person who's made all the difference," said Western president Paul Davenport. "[He] is representative of the extraordinary support that we're getting from our alumni as we move forward in the world of modern research."

The facility is also funded by the provincial government and donations from the private sector.

Rix said after the human genome is mapped, proteomics (the study of proteins) will be the next major revolutionary research area. He was, therefore, eager to contribute to Western's facility, he added.

"I must say that it was an easy sell," he said.

Western biochemistry professor Gilles Lajoie said understanding proteins will help scientists approach diseases better.

"Proteins are the players inside the cell. They are much more difficult to analyze [than DNA]. This era of proteomics aims at identifying these proteins," he said, adding once the protein is identified, diagnosing a disease is made easier.

The facility has been operating since July andit currently contains $2.5 million worth of equipment. Western plans to double the amount of equipment within the next few years, he said.

The facility will work closely with other Ontario universities and hospitals, Lajoie said.

Since July, it has started over 20 collaborative projects. "We're open for business to everybody, as long as they have a protein to be identified," he said.

Associate plant sciences professor Priti Krishna said she is excited about the new facilities. "[Before], you had to send [proteins] out to other places for identification," she said, adding she has often had to send samples out of the country.

"This is the lab that most students would die for," said Tom Moy of Agilent Technologies, a company that supplied equipment for the facility.

"[Lajoie] is basically going to put the University of Western Ontario on the map. He is very unique. The work he's done supports the hospital, the university and other researchers," he said.

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