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Dr Ashraf Ismail

Associate Professor
Co-Director, McGill IR Group


T: 514 398-7991  |  ashraf [dot] ismail [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email)  |  Macdonald-Stewart Building MS3-068


PhD Chemistry, McGill University
BSc Biochemistry, McGill University

Awards and Recognitions

Development of a turnkey system for lubricant condition monitoring that was successfully commercialised by the industrial partner;
Awarded Honorable Mention in the NSERC-sponsored University-Industry Synergy Awards competition.

Research Interests

Dr. Ismail’s research program has three global themes: (i) exploration of new approaches by which to acquire information on protein structure and interactions by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopic techniques, with a particular focus on novel applications of focal-plane-array (FPA) FTIR spectroscopic imaging ; (ii) implementation of these approaches, together with other biophysical techniques, to address questions of fundamental biochemical or food science relevance; and (iii) development of FTIR spectroscopy as a rapid technique for the identification of microorganisms.

Current Research

  1. Development of infrared imaging spectroscopy as a rapid technique for the identification of foodborne pathogens: This research project extends a recently completed NSERC Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) project undertaken with Health Canada and Agilent Technologies to address public health concerns related to food safety through the implementation of infrared imaging technology for the rapid identification of foodborne pathogens. A major current focus of this research is the development of an expert system for the identification of E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogenic E. coli strains. 
  2. Development of  attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy for the detection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in clinical microbiology: The potential utility of FTIR spectroscopy as a rapid technique for identification and subtyping of antibiotic-resistant staphylococci was demonstrated in earlier work by our research group in collaboration with researchers at Health Canada, the Institute of Medical Microbiology of the University of Zurich, and Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. The recent availability of rugged portable ATR-FTIR spectrometers enhances the feasibility of translating these research findings into practical technology for rapid identification of antibiotic-resistant bacteria suitable for routine implementation in clinical microbiology laboratories. Following preliminary feasibility studies at the Laboratoire de santé publique du Québec, ongoing work in collaboration with Dr. Pierre Lebel at the MUHC is directed toward development and validation of ATR-FTIR technology for discrimination of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) strains and of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) from VSE. MRSA and, to a lesser extent,  VRE are prominent antibiotic-resistant pathogens in hospitals across Canada, and our objective is to develop FTIR spectral databases that represent the genetic diversity of these strains
  3. Development and infrared imaging of edible films and microparticles for active-packaging and targeted-delivery applications: As the continuation of detailed spectroscopic investigations of the whey proteins and their gelation behaviour, the exploration of whey proteins as components of edible films and microparticles has been undertaken. A major focus of this project is the examination of the microencapsulation of bioactives in, and burst release from, whey-protein/polysaccharide microparticles by infrared imaging in order to optimize their use as delivery systems for bioactive components.
  4. Development of an FTIR soil analyzer: In a joint project with Thermal-Lube, Inc. (Pointe-Claire, Québec), funded in part by MAPAQ (Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec), a compact FTIR soil analyzer has been designed and is being tested for the determination of the concentrations of key soil components (including total organic content, nitrates, acidity and carbonates) and the discrimination between soil types (clay, sand, and silt).

Active Affiliations

  • Society for Applied Spectroscopy
  • Ordre des chimistes du Québec


Undergraduate Courses:

FDSC 233 Physical Chemistry 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

FDSC 110 Course not available

Graduate Courses:

FDSC 520 Biophysical Chemistry of Food 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer



View a list of current publications