Sporometrics was founded in 1993 by James Scott, a graduate student in mycology at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Prof. David Malloch and Prof. Neil Straus. During Prof. Malloch’s absence on sabbatical in Belgium, James received several requests from commercial and government organizations to analyze fungal contaminants in environmental samples. Despite kind explanations that Prof. Malloch’s laboratory was an academic research group that did not carry out commercial projects, samples began to show up. To stem the growing stack of perishable and unsolicited samples, James dutifully examined the materials with his $250 monocular Leitz student microscope, sending reports along to the submitters accompanied by a plea not to send any more. But they didn’t listen, word spread, and the samples kept arriving. By the time Prof. Malloch returned from his sabbatical, despite all attempts to stop it, an enterprise had begun and an urgent conversation was in order. Where many academics would have taken a hard line, Prof. Malloch was refreshingly encouraging, and Sporometrics was born.
Sporometrics was incorporated in 1996 (principally as a means to comply with the financial terms of James’s NSERC doctoral scholarship). By this time, several other of Prof. Malloch’s mycology graduate students had been pulled into the fray, notably Brenda Koster and Simona Margaritescu. As James neared the completion of his PhD, Sporometrics was further joined by Michael Warnock and David Clark. Despite that Sporometrics was notionally a commercial enterprise, it also provided an otherwise unattainable platform to support James’s PhD research on fungi in house dust (notably Penicillium), and later Brenda Koster’s PhD research on the genus Stachybotrys.
By the time James defended his PhD in December 2000, Sporometrics had become established as a Canadian leader in commercial environmental mycology testing and analysis, listing several hundred clients across Canada and the US. Over the ensuing decade, Sporometrics has grown and diversified, having been joined by internationally renown mycologists such as Dr. Richard Summerbell, Dr. Juliet Ewaze, and Dr. Brett Green (currently a staff scientist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV).
Today Sporometrics is located in a 3,500 square foot, purpose-built state-of-the-art laboratory facility located in the historic factory district in downtown Toronto’s Liberty Village. The Sporometrics laboratory operates as a fully-compliant Biosafety Level 2 laboratory, outfitted with research-grade facilities for light and fluorescence microscopy, physiological and biochemical testing, long-term culture storage, and a dedicated molecular genetics laboratory to support cutting-edge DNA fingerprinting, DNA sequence-based identification and real-time PCR detection of bacteria, fungi and viruses.