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Last modified: Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Indiana University, Beckman Coulter partnership to advance identification of environmental toxics

Sept. 8, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics (CGB) and the international biomedical testing company Beckman Coulter announce a new collaboration formed to create automated solutions for genomics applications designed to better pinpoint toxics that pose risks to the environment and human health.


Zach Smith, a project scientist at Indiana University's Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics, is pictured here using a Beckman Coulter liquid handling system.

Print-Quality Photo

Under the agreement, CGB biologists will work side-by-side with Beckman Coulter's application specialists and engineers to design, validate and implement protocols targeting the high-throughput genomics market. The partnership hopes to advance technologies and applications for environmental genomics research -- a growing field that targets the diagnosis of chemical threats to ecosystems, drinking water and food supplies -- by transforming evaluation methods that currently require massive numbers of samples.

"By working together early in the development of new model systems and procedures that assess global variation in the genetic responses of natural populations to environmental change, we stand a better chance to significantly improve our ability to manage harmful substances in the environment," said CGB Genomics Director John Colbourne.

An important goal is to enhance automation tools, for simultaneously measuring gene expression of thousands of samples by high-density microarray and next-generation sequencing experiments, and to increase efficiencies, reduce per-sample experiment costs and reduce error rates. The gene expression assays are to provide information-rich measurements of chemical effects on model species, like the water flea Daphnia, which are the foundation for science-based risk assessments of environmental and ecosystem health.

"We fully expect that this partnership with the CGB will help us identify potential applications for automated solutions, and that it will provide Beckman Coulter with greater insight into the challenges and needs of genomic research laboratories," said Brad Booze, director of product management in Beckman Coulter's Life Sciences Division.

"Tools like the company's Biomek* liquid handling workstations will enable innovative, high-throughput solutions aimed at dramatically increasing the speed and accuracy with which the Center and other genomic research laboratories conduct research," he said.

As the collaboration develops, the CGB will demonstrate scientific outcomes from automated solutions by publishing results in primary scientific journals. Beckman Coulter and the center will also jointly offer hands-on training at venues like the annual Environmental Genomics course at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Maine, where Colbourne holds an adjunct associate professorship.

"This partnership provides mutual opportunities to develop much needed research tools and capacities," said IU Biology Professor and CGB Director Peter Cherbas. "And for us, it also provides a valuable opportunity to interact with the successful Indiana-based life science division of Beckman Coulter."

About the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics (CGB)

Created by an initial $1 million investment from Lilly Endowment Inc. in 2000, the CGB is a research center with more than 30 scientists and supporting staff that both carries out its own research and promotes genomics and bioinformatics-related research at Indiana University. In 2004, Lilly Endowment Inc. granted $53 million for innovative life-science research at IU Bloomington. The CGB receives international recognition for its leadership role within research communities, including the Daphnia Genomics Consortium, agricultural plant genomics, and via its Drosophila Genomics Resource Center and its Environmental Genomics initiatives. For more information about the CGB, visit

About Beckman Coulter

Beckman Coulter Inc., based in Orange County, Calif., develops, manufactures and markets products that simplify, automate and innovate complex biomedical tests. More than 275,000 Beckman Coulter systems operate in laboratories around the world, supplying critical information for improving patient health and reducing the cost of care. Recurring revenue, consisting of consumable supplies (including reagent test kits), service and operating-type lease payments, represents about 80 percent of the company's 2010 revenue of $3.7 billion. For more information, visit

For more information please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or, or Steve Ernst, Veris Communications, at 714-961-6436 or