Research and Teaching Interests
Our research program is built on the premise that chemical separation is driven by physical field and chemical equilibrium. With the insights into how molecules are separated and detected in capillary columns, we wish to design novel instrument that can provide even more separation power for chemical analysis and purification. Interestingly, the newly designed instrument comes with newly created problems to be solved, and new phenomena to be explained. Our group enjoys meeting these challenges with many wonderful tools available to us, including what we have learned in physics, mathematics, computer science, and most importantly, chemistry! We have several projects currently being worked on:
Interface development for capillary electrophoresis- electrospray ionization – mass spectrometry (CE-ESI-MS)
Currently available interfaces suffer from several deficiencies stemmed from the lack of understanding of the fundamental processes involved in CE and MS separately, as well as when the two techniques are interfaced. By playing with the shape and geometry of the sprayer, the chemical properties of the surfaces, solution compositions and the electrical circuits that drive the processes we are developing novel CE-MS interfaces that we hope will give improved performance in both the separation and detection.
Electrophoretic strategies for the purification of biomolecules
In this project we are designing novel instrumentation for larger scale purification systems based on the infinite resolution theory we developed in the past. By balancing the electrophoretic and hydrodynamic forces acting on analytes in solution, we can selectively manipulate their trajectory. Having established this technology in single capillaries, we are now working to understand how we can use novel geometries to improve the capacity and yield of purification.
Affinity capillary electrophoresis for the characterization of biochemical interactions
Capillary electrophoresis is an excellent tool for studying biochemical interactions because the separation environment can be tailored to simulate in vivo conditions. Our group has developed several different techniques that can be used to determine the binding constants based on simple affinity CE experiments. In addition to applying this technology to many important biological problems, we have also developed software that allows us to visualize what is occurring in the capillary at every stage of an affinity separation, and to predict future results. The focus now is on improving the predictive ability of the software to allow us to study more complex interactions.
Quantitative investigation of anesthetic agents and markers of oxidative stress in human blood
This project is in collaboration with a Dr. David Ansley at the Vancouver General Hospital, and is designed to study the dose-dependent cardioprotective potential mechanism of propofol. We have developed a quantitative capillary electrophoresis based method to get an accurate picture of how the concentration of anesthetic in a patient’s blood can affect their resilience to oxidative stress and subsequent recovery.
With the beautiful weather in the summer and mild temperature all year round, Vancouver is the most attractive place in North America to live and study. Our group is truly blessed with a very exciting environment to grow both academically and personally.
We are always welcoming enthusiastic individuals into our lab. Although our focus is on chemical separations, diverse backgrounds including physics, math, computer studies and biology all have a chance to make unique contributions. The only pre-requisite is a willingness to learn. Interested students should contact David at .
B.Sc., Xiamen (1985); Ph.D., Alberta (N.J. Dovichi, 1993); Postdoctoral, Alberta (N.J. Dovichi, J.F. Elliott, 1993-1994), Royal Society of Chemistry Award in Analytical Separation Methods (2001), UBC Charles A. McDowell Award for Excellence in Research (2002), Canadian Society for Chemistry W. A. E. McBryde Medal (2008), Canadian Society for Chemistry Maxxam Award (2015)