BioZone Fall Retreat @ Chudleigh's Farm
Oct 19 all day

Hey BioZone,


It’s officially fall, and that means it’s time for the BioZone Fall Retreat!!! 🍁


On Saturday October 19th, we will be going apple-picking at Chudleigh’s Farm! We will meet at Wallberg at 9:45 am, and leave at 10:00 am. We will pick apples in the morning, meet for group lunch (bring your own lunch — avoid single-use plastic if you can!), and then enjoy some freshly baked treats and explore the farm. We will return to Wallberg around 4 pm that afternoon.


The retreat will be $10 and you must register on Eventbrite. After you register, bring your $10 to any member of the BioZone Council, or email us and we’ll arrange to meet with you. Guests and families of BioZoners are welcome, and children under 10 years old are free! You must also register your guests on Eventbrite.


If you have a car, feel free to meet us there around 11 am and enjoy the freedom of your own schedule — and bringing back as many apples as can fit in your car 😉.


We look forward to seeing some beautiful fall colours on our drive and enjoying the crisp country air for a day of picking (and eating) apples!! 🍏🍂🍎🍃


We will be going to the farm rain or shine, so dress according to the weather forecast.



Looking forward to a great retreat,


BioZone Council



BioZone Mass Spectrometry Facility Training Workshop @ WB407,
Oct 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm


The BioZone Mass Spectrometry Facility Workshop will focus on techniques involved in the analysis of mass spectrometry data.

The goal is to provide users and potential users of the facility an understanding of mass spectrometry, sample requirements and limitations in addition to methods involved in mass spectrometry data processing. This workshop will allow attendees to experience data processing in real time with data derived from actual samples.

Key topics will include:

  • Basic Principles of Mass Spectrometry
  • Sample Preparation and Limitations
  • Use of Xcalibur and Compound Discoverer for Processing of Data

Register for the Mass Spec user training session here.

We look forward to seeing you there.


The BioZone Mass Spectrometry Team


BZ Seminar: New Bioinformatic and Molecular Biology tools for Metabolic Engineering @ WB407
Oct 28 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
BZ Seminar: New Bioinformatic and Molecular Biology tools for Metabolic Engineering @ WB407

Metabolic engineering uses and manipulates cellular metabolism to convert cheap substrates into more valuable products. Most of the involved biochemical transformations are catalyzed by enzymes. The flux from substrate to product can be limited by activity of one enzyme, especially when its coding gene is from another species. The flux can also be limited by imbalanced activities of multiple enzymes involved in the process, which has various, partially understood causes, such as accumulation of toxic metabolic intermediates, over-drainage of cellular energy and building blocks, and activation of cellular defence mechanisms. In this presentation, I will share with the audience our efforts in developing new tools for improving protein activity and for balancing metabolic pathway.

In the first study, we developed a computational tool to improve protein activity in collaboration with Dr. Xiaonan Wang’s group at NUS. We trained a mathematical model by using machine learning algorithms to predict solubility of a protein from its amino acid sequence. Protein solubility instead of activity was used as the model output because (1) protein solubility and activity are correlated to certain extent, and (2) solubility data from different classes of proteins can be pooled together, making data collection much easier. With the model, we were able to optimize protein’s sequence in silico to maximize its solubility. We have experimentally tested some optimized protein sequences and found that a good fraction of them indeed resulted in more soluble proteins. For example, solubility of tyrosine ammonia lyase (TAL) was increased from 0.40 to 0.85 (if 15% of TAL forms inclusion bodies, its solubility is defined as 0.85). Subsequent in vitro TAL activity assay revealed a more than four-fold improvement in TAL activity when the original TAL sequence was replaced by the optimized one. The final in vivo test also showed that using the optimized TAL sequence can boost Escherichia coli’s ability of producing coumaric acid from glucose.

In the second study, we improved molecular biology tools for expressing multiple genes. Since there is currently no theory or computational tool to effectively guide balancing activity of multiple genes in metabolic engineering, one still needs to screen many combinations of gene expression levels to identify the best condition. To facilitate this process, we developed a new DNA assembly standard (GT Standard [GTS]), which allowed rapid construction of plasmids from reusable, standard DNA parts in an almost scarless way. With GTS, we can define coding genes and regulatory elements (promoters, RBS, etc.) as standard parts, and can easily arrange them in various ways to express a set of coding genes at different levels. As a demonstration, we constructed 72 E. coli strains for production of coumaric acid, and found that these strains resulted in a wide range of product titer (1-250 mg/L). GTS has also been used to facilitate the experimental validations in the first study –tags were added to proteins to increase their solubility by using reusable DNA parts.



Dr. Kang ZHOU is an Assistant Professor at Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore (NUS). He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Tianjin University in 2007 and his PhD degree from Singapore-MIT Alliance in 2012. He subsequently did his postdoctoral research work at MIT and then joined NUS as Assistant Professor in 2015. He joined DiSTAP as a PI when the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology program was launched in 2018. Besides the tool development topic mentioned in this presentation, his current research interests also cover the following topics: (1) engineering microbes to utilize new substrates as carbon source, (2) constructing new pathways in microbes to synthesize plant natural products, and (3) using compartments to enhance metabolite detection and synthesis.

BioZone CREATE Open House @ WB407
Nov 13 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Create for BioZone is a training program which addresses skill gaps that will equip our students to become leaders in the bioeconomy sector.  The gaps include:
  • Data fluency- Learn skills to manage and share enormous amounts of data generated by genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and sensor technology.
  • Innovation in entrepreneurship and idea generation- Training for students in knowledge transfer skills, open science principles, and entrepreneurship techniques.
  • Communication and leadership skills- Training in science communication to non-technical audiences, and authentic leadership.
Learn more about the NSERC CREATE for BioZone program at our Open House on Nov 13th 12-2PM in WB407. The training program is open to all students, post-doctoral fellows and research associates.

The CREATE for BioZone in partnership with the Genome Canada Synbiomics and NSERC IBN projects is hosting a course on Technoeconomic and Life Cycle Analysis tools for enzyme technologies and new bioproducts on Nov 12th from 9AM to 3PM. Watch our for more details.

BioZone Research Symposium @ Room 140
Nov 29 @ 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

The BioZone Reserach Symposium will be held on November 29th, 2019. The symposium will feature keynote speakers and presentations from BioZone researchers showcase the exciting research underway at BioZone.

BioZone Holiday Party @ GB202
Nov 29 @ 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Dear BioZoners,

Come join us for delicious food and fun games at our annual BioZone Holiday Party at GB202 on 29 November 2019! Move details will be shared soon.