Each field has its stars. In movies they’re recognised with BAFTAs and Oscars, in literary fiction there are Pulitzers and the Man Booker prize, for science there are Nobels and Breakthrough prizes. But sometimes you feel that your personal favourite was overlooked.
Here we’ve listed ten of the top scientists carrying out research in the field of proteomics today. By no means a definitive list, we merely mean to highlight the work of some of the inter-galactic science overlords contributing amazing research to this field.
1. Matthias Mann, Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Munich, Germany
Professor Mann’s work has involved establishing techniques to isolate proteins from gels to be analysed by mass spectrometry, the enhancement of the sensitivity of mass spec analysis through the miniaturisation of electrospray ionisers, the development of algorithms which enables protein fragments to be identified by comparison with databases. More recently he has developed methods for quantitative mass spectrometry through SILAC (Stable Isotope Labelling by Amino Acid in Cell Culture), allowing the differential expression of proteins, identification of disease markers and cell signalling dynamics to be studied via proteomics.
2. Ruedi Aebersold, Institute for Molecular Systems Biology, Zurich, Switzerland
He has primarily researched techniques for measuring proteins in complex samples via mass spectrometry. Known for developing the Isotope-Coded Afinity Tag (ICAT) technique for proteomics, which allows the relative quantities of proteins in different samples to be measured. Using this technique his research team use the protein profiles of cells to analyse, for example cancerous vs. non-cancerous cells, to identify new biomarkers of disease and provide a more thorough understanding of cellular physiology.
3. John R. Yates III, Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California
Publication of the proteome of the malarial pathogen, Plasmodium falciparum and the development of the SEQUEST algorithm that allowed tandem mass spectrometry data to be correlated with protein sequences are among his achievements. Probably most well-known for the development of MudPIT (Multidimensional Protein Identification Technology) which marked the change from traditional 2D gel-based to 2D liquid chromatography mass spec techniques.
4. Richard D. Smith, Biological Sciences Division and Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington, USA
He was extensively involved in the development and application of Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR) mass spec, which allowed an increased MS resolution and mass measurement accuracy. Smith and his team have been able to reduce the analytical steps from hours to minutes, enabling high-throughput mass spec, whilst also innovating to improve sensitivity and accuracy to enable the identification of rare proteins through proteomic techniques.
5. Julio Celis, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark
Professor Celis’ group introduced the use of protein identification techniques to map HeLa cell proteins and developed the first protein database in 1981. He was later involved in pioneering the use of large scale protein identification using microsequencing and has used proteomics to analyse bladder and breast cancer.
6. Gert Lubec, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Professor Lubec’s work focuses on neuroproteomics, examining changes in cell proteomes associated with neurological processes, such as learning memory formation and thinking and neurodegenerative diseases.
7. Albert J. R. Heck, Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Group, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Professor Heck’s work focuses on the study of post-translational modifications using mass spectrometry and the development of novel peptide fragmentation strategies to elucidate post-translational modifications. One of the pioneers of native protein mass spec techniques used to study large protein assemblies, such as tertiary and quaternary structures and the interaction of an antibody with its antigen. He was the recipient of the European Proteomics Pioneer Award this year.
8. Lance A. Liotta, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, George Mason University, Virginia, USA
He has developed a series of proteomic technologies to discover the molecular mechanisms driving the pathogenesis of human cancer and invented laser capture microdissection to study molecular events that drive cancer invasion in human tissue.
9. Emanuel Petricoin III, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, George Mason University, Manassas, Virginia USA
Professor Petricoin’s work has involved the use of proteomic techniques to identify human cancers and the molecular profiling of these diseases, aiming to improve detection in patients.
10. Fuchu He, Beijing Proteome Research Center, Beijing, P. R. China
Professor Fuchu was responsible for producing the draft of the first human organ proteome, mapping the liver, including the protein-protein interactions within hepatosomes.