The Applied Genomics Centre at Kwantlen Polytechnic University has expanded, adding an additional lab at the Surrey campus. The centre, which opened in 2019, is located in the Spruce building.
The second lab expanded last month and will help students continue more hands-on research and provide better access to technological training and experience.
“Our applied research projects focus largely on using genomic and metabolomic tools to investigate issues in agriculture around improving crop consistency, crop yield and animal health,” reads a statement on the centre’s website.
Students who work at the lab are enrolled in the Bachelor of Science program at KPU and learn to develop molecular genetics and cellular product solutions in the agriculture and human health sectors in B.C.
Paul Adams, director of the Applied Genomics Centre, is pleased with the recent lab expansion.
“More space means we can fit more people and add additional technologies we did not have before,” Adams says.
Currently, there are 20 projects in the works with more research being done on DNA sequencing. The projects also involve industry partners outside of the KPU community.
“Our goal is to use genomics, the tools that we have, and the expertise that we have in genomics, to help industry partners in agriculture solve problems that they might be having,” he says.
One example would be helping to discover a bacteria commonly found in dairy cows, which is difficult to detect and monitor, Adams says.
“We built a genomics tool that allows us to find this bacteria on farms and identify it. It is like the COVID-19 test, so we developed that for this bacteria,” he says.
They are also developing a way to make cattle more heat resistant, by monitoring their genetics through breeding programs.
Through this expansion, students will continue to be involved in these research projects.
“Students take the knowledge that they learn in their classes and apply it,” Adams says.
“Through applied research, they get to see how that knowledge and those tools benefit the community.”
Students also get to make connections with industry partners, which will help them with their career after finishing at KPU.
“Getting to interact with those people out in the community, allows [students] to gain a reputation and form networks,” Adams says.
Erick Samara is a recent graduate from KPU with a degree in health sciences.
“At KPU, we have this special opportunity to be involved in the data. It is rewarding to see the entire process all the way through,” Samara says.
He is currently working full-time at the centre as a bioinformatician and hopes to attend graduate school in the near future.
“[The expansion] is a great addition to the lab because it gives us the opportunity to increase our staff and get more students involved, because it does get cramped,” Samara says.
“We were more focused on the genetic aspect of everything, but now we can look at metabolomics and the chemistry side. It expands on the science that we are able to do and lets us do more things.”
Adams hopes the centre will continue to expand over the years.
“We have plans to continue to grow. We are always looking for new space as those new partners and projects increase,” he says.