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New HUPO President Seeks ‘Steady Road'

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As the Human Proteome Organization moves into its sixth year, the incoming president would like to see the organization consolidate its efforts, ensure it has its priorities right, and try not to be everything to everybody.

Rolf Apweiler becomes the third president in the organization's history, following Samir Hanash, HUPO's inaugural leader, and John Bergeron.

In doing so, Apweiler takes charge during a challenging time for the proteomics field. Not quite nascent but not yet mature, the discipline has lost some of the luster that comes when something new turns out to have unrealistic expectations.

As Apweiler takes HUPO's reigns, much about the proteome of any living creature remains a mystery. And despite the research that's been done over the past few years, it can be argued that researchers today are only marginally closer to deciphering a proteome than they were two years ago.

As the main voice for the proteomic community, HUPO has numerous irons in the fire, coordinating a wide array of research projects studying the heart, blood, brain, and liver proteomes, among others. It has also served as the field's advocate to funding agencies, as a liaison between the scientific community and industry, and as a networking organization for researchers.

With so many duties on his plate, Apweiler says that the organization will need to be careful not to spread itself too thin by trying to be everything to everybody in the proteomics field.

"I think my agenda for the next two years is fairly modest," Apweiler says. "I want to make this a steady road, that we carry on being on a good path instead of being incredibly ambitious [trying] to do this and that [only to] lose track of consolidating what we are already doing quite well."

— Tony Fong

Short reads

Vanderbilt University Medical Center will build the Center for Proteomics and Drug Actions, funded with a $1 million, five-year grant from the National Foundation for Cancer Research, to study how proteomics and molecular markers can help develop diagnostics and drugs for cancer. The center will be linked with seven other research facilities in the US, UK, and China.

Alfa Wasserman Proteomic Technologies has teamed up with Pressure BioSciences to develop sample prep methods to enrich low-abundance proteins and subcellular organelles. Alfa Wasserman will develop cell disruption techniques for sample preparation using Pressure BioSciences' cycling technology.

ProMetic Life Sciences announced that an improved financial and competitive landscape caused it to postpone IPO plans for its ProMetic BioSciences subsidiary, which produces synthetic proteins.

Ciphergen Biosystems worked out a partnership with the Ohio State University Research Foundation to develop and validate a SELDI-based clinical diagnostic test to help detect the blood disease thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.

Integrated Genomics teamed up with Coda Genomics to offer combined services for optimizing protein expression in humans, plants, and viruses. The collaboration creates an optimized protocol that using IG's Pichia yeast-expression system with Coda's translational protein expression.

Patents

US Patent 7,160,680. Mutation analysis by mass spectrometry using photolytically cleavable primers. Inventors: Inventors: Markus Kostrzewa, Thomas Frohlich, Thomas Wenzel, Andres Jaschke, Felix Hausch. Assignee: Bruker Saxonia Analytik. Issued: January 9, 2007.

This patent covers a method of a mass-spectrometric analysis of known mutation sites in the genome, such as SNPs, using the method of restricted primer extension and the use of a photocleavable linker.

US Patent 7,158,862. Method and system for mining mass spectral data. Inventors: Daniel Liebler, Beau Hansen, Daniel Mason, Sean Davey, Juliet Jones, Thomas McClure. Assignee: The Arizona Board of Regents on Behalf of the University of Arizona. Issued: January 2, 2007.

This patent discloses "a system and software for mining mass spectral data to detect chemical-specific characteristic features in large databases and/or files, including specifying spectral characteristics of mass spectra to mine, specifying a relationship between the spectral characteristics, searching the mass spectra for portions of the mass spectra which match the spectral characteristics based on the relationship," and more.

Data point

$16.2 million

The Australian government allotted AU$16.2 million for the Australian Proteomics Facility, part of a larger package worth AU$51 million the government will spend on existing facilities involved in genomic analysis, gene discovery, and metabolomics.