With new ideas comes the need for new technologies to test those theories. Thanks to the Chemistry Program Activation Fund, chemistry laboratory instructor Dr. Harmeen Deol was able to make an addition to her lab that has made a huge difference in her research and how her students learn in the lab.

Donations from the Activation Fund allowed students to access a widely applicable instrument, Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), to study DNA binding. DNA binding experiments using SPR offer a powerful and real-time analytical approach to studying the interactions between DNA molecules and their binding partners. In SPR, changes in the refractive index at a sensor surface are monitored as biomolecules bind, providing quantitative data on association and dissociation kinetics.

Researchers leverage SPR for diverse applications in the study of DNA-protein, DNA-drug, or DNA-small molecule interactions. This technology aids in understanding binding affinities, kinetics, and thermodynamics, crucial for drug discovery, biomarker identification, and elucidating fundamental molecular processes. The label-free nature of SPR ensures minimal perturbation to the studied systems, making it a versatile and widely adopted tool in molecular biology and biochemistry research.

Thanks to your generous funding, students now have access to a versatile instrument with wide-ranging applications. This invaluable resource not only enhances their proficiency in data fitting, but also broadens their skill set, equipping them with a robust toolkit. As a result, our students are well-prepared to navigate the challenges of the real world with a formidable array of capabilities. Your support has truly empowered our students to excel and succeed.

Find out how you can donate to the Chemistry Program Activation Fund. Your donation will support the continuous advancement of innovative academic program delivery that prioritizes hands-on learning, ensuring the University of Waterloo’s chemistry program continues to be one of the top chemistry programs in Canada.

Benjamin Emmanuel in lab

Having the opportunity to work with an industry-relevant tool, like SPR, was a unique experience. Applying this tool to coursework enhanced my learning because I had the opportunity to go beyond theoretical learning of this technique and the associated data-fitting that goes along with it.

Using SPR to study DNA binding gave me an enhanced understanding of how DNA binding kinetics can be measured and what this means in scenarios, such as DNA-small molecule interactions. Getting hands-on time with this equipment, I was able to understand the theory behind SPR far more than when looking at static diagrams. Learning about one application of SPR in the lab helped me to appreciate the versatility of the technique and how it can be applied to other industry-relevant scenarios.

This valuable experience has now grown my confidence in my understanding of industry techniques, and I am excited to have more opportunities to use SPR and DNA-based therapeutics in my future career.

Benjamin Emmanuel