Canada Research Chair in Chemical Mass Spectrometry
Tier 1 - 2001-01-01
Natural Sciences and Engineering
416-736-2100, ext. 66188
Applying mass spectrometry to the analysis of chemical and biological activity important on earth and in space
This versatile analytical technique should shed new light on the physical structure of biological systems, perhaps opening up possibilities in biotechnology
Exploring the Stars Brings Chemist Back to Earth
Predicting the exotic chemistry within the atmospheres of stars and the large clouds found between stars takes insight and laboratory equipment. Diethard Bohme has both. Now he's turning his gaze and his instruments from more distant corners of the universe to the intricate microscopic workings of living creatures and active molecules found right here on earth. And by offering an improved understanding of biochemical activity, his work could open up new frontiers in biotechnology.
Bohme's research team at York University has assembled a unique type of mass spectrometer, a well-established technology for measuring the physical properties and chemical activity of gaseous molecules. Their particular instrument combines the features of two of the most recent innovations in this technology. As a result, the researchers are now able to assess the dynamics of any known metal, both free and embedded within molecules-a powerful asset when taking stock of metallic catalysts and metallo-biomolecules and of the unusual reactions that occur within interstellar and circumstellar clouds.
As the holder of a Canada Research Chair, Bohme will now apply his previous success in mass spectrometry to the analysis of the activity of biochemical molecules both as gases and when extracted directly from liquids. He will be able to measure the behaviour of specific metal atoms and groups of other atoms found within biological molecules. This significant branch of biochemistry has not been well researched, in part because of the need for equipment that has the versatility required to produce and analyze a wide range of organometallic units. Bohme, therefore, expects to shed new light on how metals embedded within biological constituent molecules contribute to the way in which living tissue is activated.