Industry Partner - LUCAS


 

Lakehead University Centre for Analytical Services

"LUCAS represents a group of Lakehead University researchers and laboratories that provide a single access point for services and expertise that are unique to the region" (http://lucas.lakeheadu.ca/).

Members of the Biotechnology Program are involved with four of the nine LUCAS facilities: the Lakehead University Instrumentation Laboratory (LUIL), the Lakehead University Paleo-DNA Laboratory (Paleo-DNA), the Aquatic Toxicology Research Center (ATRC), and the Lakehead University Environmental Laboratory (LUEL). Each of these facilities is overseen by a University researcher with expertise in a specific area of testing, analysis or instrumentation. The facilities provide services to clients internal and external of the University.

External clients come from a wide range of industries and the interaction between University researcher and industry clients frequently results in ideas or issues highly suitable for collaborative industry sponsored research. The Biotechnology Program will enhance these opportunities by providing a forum for networking between industry and University researchers. The benefits from effective networking strategies should not be underestimated. One of the cornerstones of LUCAS has been the sharing of information and opportunities from clients. Developing new partnerships with potential sponsors of research and students projects with the proposed Biotechnology Program will invariably lead to opportunities to develop and sell analytical services which will benefit the participating members of LUCAS. As well, the LUCAS clients represent a group of industry and government clients that, in general, has had a positive experience with Lakehead and is thus predisposed to consider requests for funding of projects from LUCASís associates at Lakehead. By association with LUCAS, the Program will gain access to ISO levels for quality assurance. Two of the members of LUCAS that are associated with the Biotechnology Program operate ISO17025 accredited operations (Paleo-DNA and LUEL). The others offer tests certified by the Canadian Association of Environmental Analytical Laboratories (CAEAL).

Collaboration with LUCAS is likely to support sustainability of both LUCAS was well as the Biotechnology Program through shared use of resources such as technicians and facilities. Income generated via LUCAS analytical fees has historically been invaluable as matching funds for many funding agencies. In addition, because of Lakeheadís location, it is extremely difficult for individual researchers to maintain a core of trained technicians in this region. One of LUCASís strengths has been its ability to jointly fund technicians as well as scientists. For example, there are technicians that have been in employment with LUCAS for over a decade. LUCAS technicians have been funded by as many as six LUCAS operations over their career at Lakehead. Post doctoral fellows, funded primarily through Lakehead researchersí NSERC grants have worked with LUCAS as scientists, providing advanced analytical services to the region which helped prolonging their residency at Lakehead. Through association with LUCAS, the Program will enhance its long-term ability to fund specialist salaries and help achieve the long term sustainability objectives of the centre. Both LUCAS and the Biotechnology

Program will benefit from this association.           

One of the LUCAS members, the Aquatic Toxicity Research Centre (ATRC), is an example of the potential benefits from the synergy created when researchers from different disciplines collaborate in the biotechnology and environmental fields. In the seventies, Professors George Ozburn (Biology) and Don Orr (Chemistry), in association with a team of Lakehead graduate students and Canadian and US environmental agencies, developed a biological test for toxicity. This test is now mandated for use for all industries that discharge into North American waterways. In 1991, the technology and facilities were transferred to ATRC, which since its inception has generated $2.3 million in revenues. The revenues have been used in support of a number of funding applications as well as $59,000 in stipends and bursaries for graduate students. Currently ATRC has three full time staff and the facilities support the research of a number of faculty and students. ATRC as well as LUEL are managed by Peter Lee and are well prepared to become receptors of some of the new technologies expected to be generated by the Biotech Centre. Both ATRC and LUEL have a proven track record in delivering technologies to the region and sustaining facilities for the long term for use by a mixture of research, undergraduate teaching and training of HQP.

Internal clients of LUCAS are University research groups requiring testing or access to advanced instrumentation. They can use these services and facilities at a reduced fee. It is very common that users of a given instrument or facility come from very different research areas and the sharing of technology frequently results in ďcomparing notesĒ and creates opportunity for interdisciplinary discussion and potentially new, interdisciplinary approaches to research.

Thus, collaboration of the Biotechnology Program and LUCAS will contribute to the two main objectives of the Biotechnology Program: Fostering research partnerships between industry and University and fostering interdisciplinary research networks among University researchers.