Australian National University facility to help reveal secrets of life

High technology that will enhance the ability of biologists to conduct cutting-edge research has been opened at the Research School of Biological Sciences (RSBS) at the Australian National University.

The School’s new Mass Spectrometry Facility will allow ANU researchers to identify protein and peptide signals that regulate growth and development and identify gene function and gene mutations in all living things.

Specific research which will be undertaken on the facility includes examination of the malaria parasite, study of the legumes to better understand nitrogen fixing in plants and quantifying plant hormones and insect brain transmitters.

The Director of the Research School of Biological Sciences, Professor Jonathan Stone, said the facility will give ANU scientists access to the newest techniques and instrumentation.

“The Mass Spectrometry Facility is an important new element of research infrastructure for the biological and biomedical sciences, established and maintained by RSBS. It will provide long-term support for researchers at ANU and in the wider research community of the ACT region.”

The new $2.5m Facility was made possible by funding from the Australian Research Council, the ACT Government, the ANU Major Equipment Committee and the Research School of Biological Sciences.

Professor Barry Rolfe, the driving force behind the establishment of the Facility, said: “We have seen the description of the human ‘genome’, our genetic code. Now our challenge is to describe the transcriptome - the total set of messages coded by the genome.

“These messages are the building blocks of living tissue and mass spectrometry is the most powerful tool we have for understanding them. The techniques also underpin the development of more and more specifically constructed drugs.”

The Facility is located in the Research School of Biological Sciences. It was officially launched today by the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council, Professor Peter Hoj.

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