Beckman Coulter Inc. has entered into a Technology Partnership agreement with scientists at the University of Birmingham (UoB), UK, establishing a collaboration to accelerate research into higher-throughput biology to support the University’s activities towards better protecting environment and human health.

This technology partnership will focus on developing novel strategies to integrate Beckman Coulter’s world-leading automation platforms into OMICS workflows including genomics – by improving sample preparation for transcriptome profiling and DNA population sequencing on Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) platforms – and metabolomics, focusing on increasing sample throughput in both environmental and clinical mass spectrometry metabolomics studies.

Technological innovations resulting from this collaboration specifically target the safety and management of chemicals and nanoparticles in drinking water quality, human health and ecosystems, by transforming evaluation methods that require massive numbers of samples.

“By industrializing the process of acquiring knowledge on how gene interactions and animal metabolism are disrupted by the tens of thousands of human-made compounds that pollute the environment, we hope to provide useful and predictive toxicological information to industry and policy makers for effective environment and health protection”, said Professor John Colbourne, UoB chair of environmental genomics.

Professor John Colbourne

Other applications from this partnership are expected to include early warning systems for infectious diseases and more rapid clinical diagnoses.

The collaborative activities will include engaging in joint research projects, sharing samples and data that could lead to the development of higher-throughput technologies, exchanging know-how for improving hardware and software performance, promoting the training of graduate students, and publishing new methodology and scientific advances.

“The Beckman Coulter scientists share our vision to make ultra-high-throughput sample handling and preparation a reality”, said Professor Mark Viant, chair of metabolomics at UoB. He adds “this is going to enable us to address challenges that previously have not been feasible in omics biology.”

Professor Mark Viant

 “We are excited to form a Technology Partnership with Beckman Coulter” said Professor Malcolm Press, the University’s pro vice chancellor for research and knowledge transfer. “We anticipate that this programme of innovative research will translate directly into improved technologies for healthcare and environmental diagnostics.”

This Technology Partnership builds upon the rapid expansion of the environmental omics research program at the University of Birmingham, in particular contributing to the newly launched Joint Centre for Environmental Omics (JCEO), a collaboration between the University and BGI, the world’s largest genome research institute. The JCEO will seek to protect environment, health and global biodiversity by analysing the toxicity of chemical and nanomaterials more efficiently than has been achieved before. Located on the University’s Edgbaston campus, the JCEO will specialise in automated ultra-high-throughput sample processing in a facility jointly operated with the BGI and the China National GeneBank (CNGB).

Find out more about the JCEO here