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Saluting the Legacies of Fourier and Greenwald

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Special for the American Society for Mass Spectrometry meeting that’s taking place in Montreal this month, we give you our annual proteomics-plus issue. We’ve got the University of Colorado’s streamlined shotgun proteomics approach on p. 24, Bruker Daltonics’ CEO Frank Laukien talking up the ultimate new protein analysis tool, “top-down proteomics” on p. 28, and Plasma Proteome Institute founders Norman and Leigh Anderson on p. 50. But the pièce de résistance this month is the mass spec special — our cover story looking at how the Fourier transform mass spectrometer has finally captured the attention of protein analysts, and is poised to revolutionize proteomics.

In researching the story, GT senior editor John MacNeil boned up on his Joseph Fourier history. John recalled the mathematician’s name from his own grad school days, but was fascinated to find out that the hot new hybrid protein analysis systems are actually named for a contemporary of Napoleon Bonaparte. As well as filling you in on some Fourier lore, John introduces the major mass spec players — Comisarow, Fenn, Hofstadler, Hunt, Kelleher, McLafferty, Marshall, and Smith — and explains what the new hybrid mass spec instruments (that you’re sure to see on display at ASMS) will mean for the future of proteomics.

Another highlight of this issue is Meredith Salisbury’s special edition of the Genomoney column — “Bigwigs by Number.” Meredith culled through reams of earnings statements pulling out the stats for the tables that start on p. 52. She devised a system that let her objectively compare and score the performance of CEOs from the 25 Genome Technology Index companies, giving them credit for increased share prices, improved earnings, reduced costs, expanded assets, and years of tenure. If we turned her scale into a grading system, inflated so that the highest score equals 100, only two CEOs would have earned A’s. There would have been four B’s, two C’s, three D’s, and 14 failures. It’s been a tough year for these guys (yes, they’re all guys).

Of course, the same way a bad GPA is never a predictor of career failure, we’ll acknowledge that these scores based on earning statements don’t reflect the intangible assets that make a good leader. We know that well.

As the June issue goes to press, GT bids a sad farewell to one of our own leaders — our founding publisher and president, Harry Greenwald. Harry has been a creative entrepreneur, great mentor, supportive boss, and good friend to all of us here as he spearheaded the creation of GenomeWeb’s online business and ushered this magazine from edition No. 1 all the way to No. 33. Harry oversaw the expansion of the GenomeWeb operation from three employees (including him and me) in 1998 — when we called ourselves Bioinformatics Publishing — to what it is today (see the masthead).

Having a publisher with early-career experience as a news broadcaster has a lot to do with why GenomeWeb publications do “real” journalism with integrity rather than stereotypical trade rag puffery. He fostered an environment that motivates and permits us all to do our best work. In addition, Harry’s financial wizardry is a big reason we still exist. During the boom times, Harry was the voice of caution. Sure, we grumbled when reporters at other dotcoms were sitting on ergonomic chairs while our newsroom was furnished with recycled folding tables. But as many of the formerly Aeron-throned are now out on the pavement, we’re sure grateful for Harry’s prudence.

We’re also thankful for his legacy: a workplace that people look forward to coming to every day, and a corporate structure that feels more like a family tree than an organizational chart. We’re counting on his continued guidance on our board, but we already miss his hearty laugh around the office.

 

Adrienne J. Burke, Editor in Chief

 

Coming next month in GT:

• Sequencing innovations that will change everything

• The role for genomics and proteomics in biodefense

• RNAi: part three

 

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