Wound-healing bandages? Germ-repelling doorknobs? McMaster opens $22M Biointerfaces Institute


A new facility at McMaster will allow researchers to develop materials such as hospital doorknobs that can repel bacteria, bandages that can heal wounds, home test kits for cholesterol and contact lenses that rarely need changing.

The University today officially opened the Biointerfaces Institute, Canada’s first facility for developing unique new surfaces, using high-speed robots and other leading-edge technology.

Investigators at the lab will test millions of combinations of biological agents and complex surfaces, in pursuit of rapid solutions to stubborn health, safety and other problems.

Leading researchers from several fields will use the sophisticated, bio-secure facilities to effectively sift through entire haystacks at a time in search of the proverbial needle. Work that had taken weeks in the past can now be done in hours.

John Brennan, professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry and Biointerfaces, will lead a team of 10 core faculty members.

He says the 10,000-square foot facility provides dynamic, modern resources that put the best equipment at the disposal of academic and industrial researchers.

“Our goal is to rapidly discover surfaces with uncommon biological properties and to then develop a fundamental understanding of what makes these surfaces so special,” says Brennan. “The multidisciplinary approach facilitated by the infrastructure in the Biointerfaces Institute ensures that we can study all aspects of the phenomena at the boundary where materials meet biology.”

The accumulated results of research at the Institute will reside in a database that can assist researchers from inside and outside the university.

“Our Government has invested more than $9 billion in advanced research, technology and the growth of innovative companies since 2006,” said David Sweet, Member of Parliament for Ancaster–Dundas–Flamborough–Westdale, on behalf of the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology). “Our investments helped establish this state-of-the-art facility and set up a unique training program in the development of biointerfaces that will create jobs and long-term economic prosperity for all Canadians.”

The $22-million Institute was funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation, with support from industry partners.

“The Ontario government is proud to support McMaster’s new Biointerfaces Institute,” said Minister of Research and Innovation Reza Moridi. “The world-class research being conducted here could lead to a new generation of medical devices and diagnostics that work with the human body, strengthening Ontario’s innovation economy and improving our quality of life.”

McMaster’s President Patrick Deane praised the support received for the cross-disciplinary project.

“We are grateful to our government and industry partners for their support of such an important project,” said Patrick Deane, McMaster’s President.  “The work being done at this Institute demonstrates our commitment to world-class research. It will bring together scientists from many disciplines, who will work to solve some very perplexing problems, with the potential to deliver major benefits to our society.”