York’s pioneering chemistry prof wins analytical chemistry award

Michael Siu, director of York’s Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry, has received the Maxxam Award for distinguished contribution in the field of analytical chemistry.

The Canadian Society for Chemistry presented Siu with the annual award at the 89th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Halifax in May. As winner, he gave a lecture, “Discovery, Identification and Validation of Endometrial Cancer Biomarkers.

Right: Michael Siu in his lab

Siu, who joined York’s faculty in 1998 as a chemistry professor and the NSERC/MDS SCIEX Industrial Research Chair in Analytical Mass Spectrometry, founded the Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry in 2000. Since then, under his leadership, researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital and Toronto’s University Health Network have discovered a panel of over 10 potential cancer markers that may be used to eventually diagnose endometrial cancer, the fourth most common cancer among women in North America.

Siu collaborates with Applied Biosystems and MDS SCIEX scientists to develop prototype instrumentation and new processes to better understand proteomics, or protein-separation science. He directs a team of 20 project scientists, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and graduate students.

“I have had the good fortune to be working with highly talented and dedicated collaborators and group members,” said Siu. He cited Ottawa scientist and Ionalytics Corporation founder Roger Guevremont, with whom he co-authored 25 papers when they were colleagues at the National Research Council, and York chemistry Prof. Alan Hopkinson, with whom he has co-authored 30 papers. “By honouring me, the Canadian Society for Chemistry has chosen to honour all of my collaborators and group members.”

The Maxxam Award tops an already long list of distinguished awards won by the Hong-Kong born scientist who earned his doctorate at Dalhousie University. Last year, Siu received the Lossing Award from the Canadian Society for Mass Spectrometry and in 2004, the prestigious Gerhard Herzberg Award from the Spectroscopy Society of Canada.

Siu is a member of the editorial advisory board of Mass Spectrometry Reviews, the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry and Clinical Proteomics. He has published more than 140 scientific papers and seven peer-reviewed book chapters, and co-edited two books, Instrumentation for Trace Organic Monitoring and Reference Materials for Environmental Analysis.

Siu is currently associate vice-president research, science & technology. He has just completed his term on  York’s Board of Governors.