The Centre for Microbial Chemical Biology (CMCB)

McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
What the facility does

A state-of-the-art research centre providing support, training and services in protein and cell biology, high-throughput screening, chemical synthesis and purification, mass spectrometry, and NMR.

Areas of expertise

The CMCB is a unique facility designed to serve academic and industrial researchers working in the disciplines of chemistry and biology. It is professionally managed by five full-time staff and features six integrated labs designed to cover a large scope of research activities. The high-throughput screening lab supports drug discovery activities and features a small molecule collection of 320 000 compounds;  the protein and cell biology lab assists with bacterial and mammalian cell culturing activities, protein purification and assay technologies; the bioanalyticallab offers proteomics and metabolomics services as well as high resolution mass confirmation; the chemical synthesis lab supports natural product isolation and purification, as well as chemical synthesis activities; the NMR lab offers a 700 MHz instrument with cryoprobeand the bioinformatics lab offers a range of computational services within the biological sciences. 

Research services

High-throughput screening, in-vitro screening of custom compounds, cell growth and lysis, protein purification and analysis, chromatographic separations, proteomics, metabolomics, high resolution mass confirmation, biomolecular interactions, kinetic analysis, spectrometry, medicinal chemistry, natural-product isolation, structural determination of organic compounds

Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Chemical industries
  • Education
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Manufacturing and processing
Specialized labEquipmentFunction
High-Throughput Screening LabBiomek® FXP automated liquid handlerDual multi-channel (96- and 384-) pipetting heads, plus reagent cooling, plate shaking and bar-code tracking capabilities
 Biomek® FXP automated liquid handler for Biosafety Level 2 screensFully enclosed in a HEPA-filter biological safety cabinet ideal for assays involving Biosafety Level 2 agents
 Off-line Biomek® FXP automated liquid handlerFor plate replication, reformatting and Span-8 pod with eight individual probes for cherry picking
 Cytomat™ 6001 incubatorsAutomated incubator that provides uniform and stable temperature, humidity and CO2 conditions; incubation temperatures range from 10ºC to 50ºC; integrated with the Biomek liquid handler
 EnVision® 2104 multi-label readerMicroplate reader measures luminescence, fluorescence,and absorbance, with AlphaScreen capabilities; equipped with shaker and heater options; monochromator- and filter-based; integrated with Biomek platforms and an additional stand-alone instrument with stackers that can accommodateup to 50 assay plates
 BioRAPTR™ Flying Reagent Dispenser™An automated non-contact dispenser capable of dispensing up to eight reagents into a microplate without cross-contamination; volume ranges from 100 nL to 60 µL
 Cytomat™ 24 automated microplate hotelA large-capacity storage unit for assay plates, tip boxes and reservoirs; integrated with the Biomek liquid handler
 SAMI® Workstation EX softwareFacilitates graphical assay programming, schedules assays to optimize throughput and records data generated during system operation
 Magnetic pin tools96 or 384 floating pins offer a cost-effective way to transfer low-volume liquid accurately
 ELx405microplate washerProvides a wide range of washing capabilities, from gentle washing for cells to vigorous washing for ELISAs
Protein and Cell Biology LabGetinge autoclavePerforms steam sterilization of wrapped solids; features liquid cycles with pre-vacuum capabilities
 IncubatorsBSL1 and BSL2 stationary and shaker incubators allow for temperature-controlled incubation; dedicated incubators for bacterial and tissue culture work
 BioFlo® 115 benchtop fermenter/bioreactorAllows for large scale cell culturing and fermentation; Accommodates a wide range of cell types; Integrated control system with 1,3- and 7,5-litre vessels
 Nikon Eclipse inverted microscopeFor examination and quantification of tissue culture cells
 Biological safety cabinetsThree Class II, Type A2 biosafety cabinets; two for bacterial work and one for tissue culture
 AirClean hoodProvides laminar flow for sample protection
 Constant Systems continuous-flow and one-shot head cell disruptersPerforms continuous-flow and single-pass cell disruption; large volumes of cell suspension can be processed quickly, or the one-shot head can process small sample volumes with minimal loss to lyse cell pellet, paste or suspension
 Microson™ ultrasonic liquid processor (Sonicator)Cell disruption by mechanical vibration; tunes automatically and allows for continuous or pulsed operation
 Sorvallsuperspeed centrifugeSuperspeed centrifuge with multiple rotors, including 6 x 1 000 mL and microplate adapters; maximum speed of 70 450 xg
 Sorvall ultracentrifugeUltracentrifuge with a maximum g-force of 802 000 xg; fixed-angle and swinging-bucket rotors
 ÄKTA purifiers and ExplorersFast protein liquid chromatography systems used for separating proteins from complex mixtures; features include sample pump loading, buffer preparation, scouting function and a 3-D kit to allow for sequential column purification
 Synergy™ plate readerMonochromator- and filter-based microplate reader measures absorbance, luminescence and fluorescence; features an automatic injector for reagent dispensing and allows for fixed-temperature incubation during kinetic assays
 Tecan ULTRA Evolution plate reader1 536-well multi-read filter-based plate reader (absorbance, fluorescence, luminescence, polarization and time-gated fluorescence measures ps-ns lifetime via TCSPC)
 Tecan Sunrise96-well microplate reader with filter-based absorbance measurement; capable of performing growth curves
 SpectraMax® Plus384 plate readersAbsorbance microplate reader capable of reading cuvettes and 96- and 384-well plates; monochromator provides a range of available wavelengths
 Bio-Rad ProteOn™ SPR systemDetects the interaction between two unlabelled biomolecules in real time; assesses protein-protein, protein small molecule and protein DNA interactions; kinetic analysis (on/off rates)
 Typhoon imaging systemMulti-mode scanner with capabilities for fluorescence, storage phosphor and luminescence
 ElectroporatorPermeabilizes cell membranes
 Bio-Rad CFX96 real-time PCR detection system System has a gradient feature, allowing for optimization of multiple reactions in a single experiment and can discriminate up to five targets in a single reaction well
 Bio-Rad Experion™ automated electrophoresisEmploys LabChip microfluidic separation technology to automate electrophoresis for nucleic acid and protein analysis; performs all the steps of gel electrophoresis, including sample separation, staining, destaining, imaging and data analysis in as little as 30 minutes
Bioanalytical LabBruker micrOTOF II mass spectrometer integrated with an Agilent 1200 rapid resolution HPLC systemMedium-resolution (R = ~10k) time-of-flight mass spectrometer for high-sensitivity MS analysis of small molecules and large analytes; provides exact molecular masses for molecular formula determination; excellent for metabolomics analysis
 LTQ Orbitrap XL mass spectrometer integrated with an Agilent 1290 UHPLC systemHigh-resolution multi-stage mass spectrometry of protein digests or small molecules separated by 2-D LC; can be used for protein or small molecule identification and proteomics
NMR LabBruker AVIII 700 MHz NMRSpectrometer that is outfitted with an automated sample changer (SampleJet) and CryoProbe for high-resolution experiments on proton, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus nuclei with a very high degree of sensitivity
Chemical Synthesis LabWaters ZQ2000 LC/MSEquipped with both analytical and preparative columns; mass determination up to 2 000 Da, with an accuracy to within 0,2 Da
 Dionex™ 350 accelerated solvent extraction systemFor the extraction of chemicals from dried plants, biota or environmental samples (sediments, air samples); programmable solvents, extraction times, temperatures and pressures; range of sizes of stainless steel cells available
 Teledyne CombiFlash® Rf 200 automated flash chromatography systemUses radio-frequency identification technology to allow for automated separations and fraction collection
 Large and small BuchiRotavapor systemsEfficiently removes solvents from samples
 CEM microwave synthesizerA low-frequency energy source increases the efficiency, yield and purity of chemical synthesis reactions; significantly decreases reaction times; equipped with an autosampler
 Genevac centrifugal solvent evaporatorHigh-performance and high-throughput evaporation
 Chemspeed SLT100 parallel synthesizer platformAllows full automation of liquid and solid reagent preparation, multi-step synthesis, workup, purification, analysis and product transfer to storage; can be used for chemical library synthesis, solubility, compatability and stability screening and sample preparation; features a liquid-handling unit, automated weighing station and workflow management software
 LyophilizerFreeze-dries samples
Bioinformatics LabBioinformatics servicesConsultation, data collection, data retrieval, genome assembly, data analysis software and state-of-the-art processing platforms
 Web design and hosting servicesDesign, develop and host basic websites to high-end database-driven websites for short- and long-term projects
 Data analysisCustom platforms to analyze high-throughput screening data; data visualization
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