Biozone Facilities and Resources

BioZone is a focal point for bioengineering research in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry.

Our facilities provide a collaborative space and cross-disciplinary approach that enable researchers to share knowledge, processes and equipment as they tackle difficult technical problems in environment, energy and medicine.  The facility occupies the west wing of the 3rd and 4th floors of the Wallberg building at the University of Toronto, providing over 1,400 m2 of laboratory and research workspace, including several large, bright, collaborative research labs.

BioZone research concerns enzymes, cells and organisms that can be harnessed for the creation of renewable bioproducts, fuel cells and medical therapies, and for the remediation of soil, water, and air.  Computational approaches to screen and identify novel metabolic pathways and to engineer cellular processes play a central role in BioZone.  Novel cultivation techniques, from microbial to human cells, are used to develop valuable new products.

The facility’s research labs house a wide array of analytical instruments for molecular biology, protein purification and identification, enzyme kinetics, substrate and metabolite analysis, microscopy and cell growth.  The diversity of research within BioZone provides exposure to a wide range of expertise and analyses that can be useful for any given project, arming students with a broad array of state-of-the art techniques to tackle complex problems.


Featured Equipment in BioZone:


BioZone Mass Spectrometry Facility


  1. Exactive MS coupled to Accela 1250 pump and autosampler
  2. LTQ XL with EASY nLC / Proxeon
  3. Q Exactive (LC-MS)
  4. Varian Saturn 2100T GC/MS

Anaerobic chambers / gloveboxes

Specialized chambers (Coy Laboratories) are used for the manipulation and storage of microbial cultures in an anaerobic environment.


BioZone houses a variety of bioreactors in a range of sizes for research into fermentation and biofiltration.

  1. Infors HT Minifors (5L)
  2. Chemglass bioreactor (20L) , suitable for hydrolysis, fermentations or any other type of aqueous phase reaction at temperatures up to about 70ºC. Used to explore hydrolysis of biomass at high solids - 15 to 25%.
  3. Bench Scale Biofiltration System:  continuous parallel bench scale bioreactors (app. 5 ft x 1 ft) for the study of biological gas cleaning.  Their large size is suitable for testing various packing media.  Gas and media sampling is possible for chemical, physical and microbial analysis.  The system allows for introducing simulated air emissions with various air pollutants at controlled temperatures.
  4. Reduced Sulfur Biofiltration System:  continuous biofiltration units for the study of the treatment of reduced sulphur pollutatnts such as hydrogen sulphide and dimethyl sulphide.


Biozone Bioreactor

Biological Safety Cabinets

Used for the safe handling of mammalian cells and other biological agents. 

  1. Forma Scientific Class II A/B3
  2. Thermo Electron Corp Calss II A1


A wide range of centrifuges are available for a range of volumes from 1.5 mL to 1L.

  1. OptimaTM L-90K ultracentrifuge (Beckman Coulter)
  2. Avanti J-E high speed centrifuge (Beckman Coulter)
  3. Allegra centrifuge including a swinging bucket rotor and plate adapter (Beckman Coulter)
  4. Biofuge fresco microcentrifuge (Sorvall)
  5. DNA 120-115 speed vac (Thermo Electron Corp)
  6. Avanti J-E 251 high performance centrifuges (Beckman Coulter)

Computer cluster

BioZone houses over 68 CPUs, >260 GB of RAM, >12 TB storage, and GPUs. This hardware is used to solve challenging problems in bioinformatics, non-linear optimization and large-scale data analysis and visualization.

X-Ray Diffractometers

X-ray diffractometers are used for the determination of the 3-dimensional structure of proteins.  X-rays are focused onto the protein crystal of interest, which scatters the rays and produces a diffraction pattern.  The position and intensity of the individual spots of the diffraction pattern are read by an imaging plate at the back of the diffractometer.  These data are then used to determine the structure ie. the x, y, z co-ordinates of every (non-hydrogen) atom in the molecule.

  1. Rigaku MICROMAX-007 x-ray generator with Rigaku R-axis 4++ image plate detector
  2. Rigaku MICROMAX-007 x-ray generator with Rigaku HTC image plate detector


Fast protein liquid chromatographs

FPLC is used for the chromatographic separation of proteins and other biomolecules in complex mixtures.

  1. Biorad Biologic autoflow
  2. Amersham/GE AKTA-FPLC
  3. Amersham/GE AKTA-Explorer

Gas chromatographs

Used for routine analyses of BTEX and chlorinated aliphatic compounds.

  1. HP 5890 with headspace autosampler, FID and TCD detectors, and GS-Q column
  2. HP 5890 Series II with FID and PID detectors and GS-Q column
  3. Agilent 7890 with headspace autosampler, FID detector, and GS-Q column

Gel electrophoresis equipment and transilluminator apparatus

Used for agarose, polyacrylamide, and denaturing gradient gels, for analysis of DNA (including denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis [DGGE]), RNA, and protein (including two-dimensional gels and native PAGE).

High-Performance Liquid Chromatographs

Used for routine analysis of sugars, organic acids, and alcohols in microbial cultures and other liquids.

  1. HP Series 1050
  2. Dionex Ultimate 3000

Ion Chromatographs

For the routine analysis of ions in liquid samples.

  1. Dionex DX300 with AS40 autosampler.

Laminar Flow Hoods

Laminar flow hoods provide a contaminant-free environment for work with biological samples.  They are equipped with High Efficiency Particular Air (HEPA) Filters that remove any microorganisms from the air before it gently flows through the hood in laminar fashion.

Liquid Handlers

Liquid handling robots used for the automated dispensing of small volumes of reagents in life science applications.

  1. TECAN Freedom evo
  2. TECAN Genesis Workstation 2000

Mammalian cell incubators

This equipment allows for the culture of mammalian cells at 5% CO2 and 37ºC.

  1. Sanyo CO2 Incubator MCO-18AIC


Used for stability screening, compatibility screening as well as for studying molecular  and binding reactions.

  1. TAM III 3801 multi-channel microcalorimeter
  2. Nano ITC 2G



BioZone houses both an upright and inverted microscope that can take brightfield and fluorescence images. The automated microscope also has a stage top incubator to allow imaging of cells during cell culture for up to 5 days. Furthermore the automated microscope has a fully motorized stage allowing image stitching of images from adjacent fields of view. Microscopes are equipped with 4X, 10X, 20X, 40X, 63X and     100X lenses.

In addition, the Image Express Micro is a high content  screening microscope with environmental control. Images can be automatically collected in multiple locations within multiple wells of a well plate over time under conditions that allow     cells to culture. Both brightfield  images and fluorescence images can be collected.

  1. Olympus CKX1 live cell inverted microscope
  2. Olympus 120Q live cell inverted microscope
  3. Olympus BX51 microscope
  4. Leitz Laborlux S microscope
  5. Image Express Micro



PCR thermocyclers

Used to amplify DNA fragments using the PCR process.

  1. MJ Research PTC-200 Gradient thermocyclers
  2. BioRad C1000 with CFX 96 Real-Time System
  3. Opticon 2 DNA Engine with continuous fluorescent detector for quantitative PCR



Plasma cleaner

This machine allows glass and PDMS substrates to be cleaned with an air plasma. This plasma treatment produces surface chemistry alterations of the PDMS and glass to enable easier bonding of the two surfaces for generating microfluidic devices and for altering the surface wetability of the materials for cell culture.

  1. AM Harrick Plasma


Polymer spinner

This instrument allows for the generation of thin and uniform layers of polymer on a substrate.

  1. Laurell Technologies Corp. WS-400BZ-6NPP/LITE 


BioZone is also equipped with a variety of autoclaves, freezers, shakers, incubators and other standard laboratory equipment.