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Jamie Keeps Things Greener with Wes

"The traditional blotting method can use up to 300 pieces of plastic and Wes uses two. What's even better is that Wes can run up to 40 proteins in three days. It would take about a week to run 40 proteins using Western blotting."

- Jamie Boisvenue, Cardiovascular Research Technician, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

Jamie Boisvenue

Setting the pulse for green research

Jamie Boisvenue is a Cardiovascular Research Technician in Jason Dyck's heart research lab in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry's Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta. The lab studies molecular mechanisms regulating cardiac energy metabolism and how they affect diseases like atherosclerosis, diabetes, and obesity. And they do this with a strong commitment to green research, joining the University of Alberta's Office of Sustainability's Green Labs Program in 2013 that encourages labs across campus to be more environmentally friendly. The Dyck lab was the first medical research lab to receive the program's Gold Green Spaces certification in 2014, and they won the Campus Sustainability Leadership Award in 2015 for their continued work. All due to a desire to develop sustainable practices that provide for current research needs without compromising the needs for future generations.

Wasteful Westerns

The Dyck lab is always looking for ways to be greener, especially when it comes to protein analysis research. Traditional Western blots provided some of the highest benefit for their proteomic research, but also accumulated a lot of waste. The team went through 75 liters of water each week and generated carcinogenic and teratogenic waste. Plus, traditional Western blots were consuming another precious resource—time. Each blot took at least 24 hours to complete and came with a lot of hands-on time. More hands on meant more sources for error, leading to repeated experiments that led to even more waste.

Greener and faster with Wes

Jaime set out to find a greener alternative to traditional Western blots, found Wes® and got him in their lab thanks to support from the Sustainability Enhancement Fund (SEF) sponsored by University of Alberta's Office of Sustainability. To run 40 proteins, traditional Westerns can use up to 300 pieces of plastic and Wes only uses two! What's even better is that Wes runs those 40 proteins in three days—it would take about a week to do that using Westerns. And, the microliter volumes needed to run assays are contained in the capillary cartridge, so there's virtually no liquid waste with Wes. Wes gives them all of this along with the same high quality results they'd get with traditional Westerns and then some!

Starting the new green age for protein analysis

The Dyck lab hopes Wes will increase collaboration between labs and researchers and will be the start of a huge technical and green change in labs moving forward since it's the first instrument of its kind both at the University of Alberta and in Alberta as a whole. Wes helped Jamie and his colleagues fulfill their commitment to sustainable solutions, but the research benefits will last long into the future.

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