Queen’s unveils new cardiopulmonary research facility

 The Queen’s CardioPulmonary Unit (QCPU) to support heart, lung and vascular research

Steven Archer in Biosciences Coomplex, where the new QCPU is located
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With $7.7 million provided by the provincial and federal governments, the University unveiled the new Queen’s CardioPulmonary Unit (QCPU) on Oct. 6.

The Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science and the Canada Foundation for Innovation funded the translational medicine research facility, located in the Biosciences Complex.

Stephen Archer, the Head of Medicine at Queen’s, spearheaded QCPU — a project that was four years in the making. The facility seeks to shed light on clinical therapies and the different ways in which individuals are affected by heart, lung, blood and vascular diseases.

The facility features high-tech equipment like a two-photon confocal intra vital microscope, which will allow experts to manipulate and study single cells and the effects of diseases on them.

As well, Archer said the facility’s “next-gen[eration] sequencer” will be able to analyze an entire genome in only three days.

“To put [QCPU’s sequencer] in perspective, the human genome project took seven years and billions of dollars to complete and scientists from around the world,” Archer told The Journal. According to him, the QCPU can do the same thing in “three days for less than 4,000 dollars.”

Archer was named a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Mitochondrial Dynamics and Translational Medicine in 2014 and has been working towards the development of other facilities like QCPU for years.

“I moved to Queen’s back in late 2012 and started working on this with a team of people at the beginning of 2013, so on one hand its been four years which sounds like a long time but to build a translational research center of this magnitude I think it is actually pretty quick,” Archer said.

Archer told The Journal the name “QCPU” is a play off of a computer’s central processing unit or CPU. He said it represents “a step forward from the primitive counting machine,” dubbing the facility “next-gen[eration] Abacus.”

Principal Woolf, who delivered a speech at the facility’s opening ceremony, praised QCPU as a catalyst for further clinical research at Queen’s. Archer told The Journal Woolf has “mandated that Queen’s will intensify its research activity.”

According to Archer, the unit is a “satellite” of the Kingston General Hospital, located a short walk from the Biosciences Complex. Archer also mentioned the University has “brokered a deal with the hospital” whereby Queen’s faculty and scientists will “get a percentage of the time to do research on those clinical machines.”

The project began with 10 faculty members and has since expanded to include another 10. The team has also brought on several scientists to oversee day-to-day operations and research.

Archer told The Journal the next steps in the project will focus on financial stability and equipment maintenance.

“[QCPU] is a great resource and is as good as anything you would find anywhere in the country and around the world,” Dr. Archer said.

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