On Feb. 4, Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, announced that Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Bin Ma is the recipient of $462,998 in research support from Genome Canada. Ma will be using this grant for his project Software for peptide identification and quantification from large mass spectrometry data using data independent acquisition. Including additional funds, the total amount of his project’s funding comes to $925,987.

This was part of a national announcement of $22.7 million in Genomics and Informatics Research Funding. Provincial governments, businesses, and research partners have also invested an additional $33.4 million.

Ma’s project is focused on developing a software that improves the efficiency of precision medicine, in collaboration with Professor Michael Moran from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Precision medicine refers to treatments that are customized to suit the health of individual patients and aim to achieve the best therapeutic outcomes with minimal side effects. Precision medicine can detect and measure protein molecules in blood and tissues and further use them to identify abnormal processes that are caused by a disease and then to see the body’s response to the treatment.

Mass spectrometry is a technique which shines light through a sample solution to reveal the chemical structure and properties of a compound, and to quantify knownand unknown materials.

  Ma and his research team aim at developing software, which will allow protein identification, and quantification that is more sensitive and accurate, using a method called data independent acquisition (DIA).

This method results in the generation of huge quantities of data that can only be analyzed using software that can process large datasets.

The goal of the team is to create software that will identify and measure protein molecules using DIA mass spectrometry techniques.

Sifting through mass spectrometry data smoothly and comprehensively is difficult, and as of now, there is no software that helps with this.