BioZone Facilities & Equipment

BioZone is a focal point for bioengineering research at the University of Toronto.

building layoutOur 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 1,800 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,newlab 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

Untitled-1The Bioanalytical and Mass Spectrometry facility expands the centre’s analytical capabilities for metabolomics and proteomics measurements, and includes HPLC, UPLC, GC, nanoLC and nanoUPLC systems equipped with UV and mass spectrum detectors.

  • Exactive MS coupled to Accela 1250 pump and autosampler
  • LTQ XL with EASY nLC / Proxeon
  • Q Exactive (LC-MS)
  • Varian Saturn 2100T GC/MS
  • Mass Spec Facility Website




Resource_bioreactorBioZone 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.
quartz microbalanceThe quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) measures a mass variation on the a balance by measuring changes in frequency of a quartz crystal resonator. Since the frequency is disturbed by the addition or removal of a small mass or film deposition at the surface of the balance the QCM can be used to measure the affinity of molecules (proteins in particular) to surfaces and how enzymes or other reactions affect the material coating the balance.


10157 FFF_Principle_Grafiken_01_high_res v3Asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) is a fractionation method used for the characterization of nanoparticles, polymers and proteins. AF4 achieves  separation of particles by applying a field to a fluid suspension pumped through a channel perpendicular to the directon of flow. Particles are separated depending on their differing “mobilities” under the force exerted by the field. AF4 works over a wide colloidal size range while maintaining high resolution




xrayX-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
The Thermo Fisher High Performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC) with Diode Array Detector (DAD) and a Raytest Ramona Star Radioactivity Flow Detector (RFD) and Oxidizers located in WB327 can be used to track the transfer and transformation of radio-labelled contaminants and their degradation products for environmental and biological applications.





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




BZ_BSC2Used 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






Resource_SPiT_CentrifugesA 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)




BZ_sunfire(1)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.






BZ_HPLC(1)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





BZ_GCUsed 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



BZ_GBoxUsed 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).




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

  1. HP Series 1050
  2. Dionex Ultimate 3000





BZ_ICFor the routine analysis of ions in liquid samples.

  1. Dionex DX300 with AS40 autosampler.








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.






BZ_liquidhandlerLiquid 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





BZ_microcalorimeterUsed 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





BZ_microscope1BioZone houses both upright and inverted microscopes that can take bright field and fluorescence images. The automated microscope also has a stage top incubator to allow imaging of cells during cell culture at 37 oC for up to 5 days. Furthermore, the automated microscope has a fully motorized stage allowing image stitching of images from adjacent fields of view. Micro- scopes 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 bright field images and fluorescence im- ages can be collected. The specific microscope models are:

  • Olympus CKX1 live cell inverted microscope
  • Olympus 120Q live cell inverted microscope
  • Olympus BX51 microscope
  • Leitz Laborlux S microscope
  • Molecular Devices Image Xpress Micro Widefield High Content Screening System

Examples of current projects in the BioZone that utilize the microscope facility include, quantifying the alignment re- sponse of airway epithelial cells cultured on substrates contain- ing guidance signals, characterizing the cooperative behaviour of epithelial cells re-organizing in confluent 2D monolayer sheets, assessing cellular invasion of cancer cells into sur- rounding stromal tissues in 3D, and real-time monitoring of engineered tumor growth in response to drug treatments.

BZ_PCRUsed 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






BZ_plasmacleaner1This 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


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

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






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

  1. Sanyo CO2 Incubator MCO-18AIC