Fighting Disease One Instrument at a Time

SMU-Christa-Brousseau-1There’s a special place in Christa Brosseau’s heart for the Raman spectrometer.

“It’s the most heavily used piece of equipment in our laboratory,” says the Saint Mary’s University Chemistry professor. “We’ve forged many partnerships as a direct result of this instrument, including a collaboration with a researcher in South Africa on early detection of preeclampsia (a pregnancy disorder), the world’s second leading cause of maternal death.”

Dr. Brosseau purchased the Raman spectrometer, as well as a Langmuir Blodgett Instrument and an ultrapure water system, with funding received in 2010 from the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust (NSRIT) and matching funds from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

“This equipment allows us to better understand neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,” says Brosseau, who earned top honours at the Discovery Centre’s 11th Annual Discovery Awards for Science and Technology as the 2013 Emerging Professional.

Brosseau credits this instrumentation with helping her secure a position as co-principal investigator on a global team that received about $1 million from Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) to develop hand-held devices for the rapid detection of deadly diseases such as HIV, TB, and malaria in developing nation settings. As an added benefit for Saint Mary’s, the GCC grant provided support for several undergraduate researchers, two masters students, and one postdoctoral fellow.

“We are grateful to have this equipment in place so that we can do some very important work,” says Brosseau. “Understanding and detecting human disease is paramount to successful treatment and the eventual development of a cure.”


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