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HUPO Americas to Launch in 2004; Will Study Plasma, Informatics, Antibodies

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Leading proteomics players from the US, Canada, and Argentina are organizing an effort to establish a branch of HUPO called “HUPO Americas,” ProteoMonitor has learned.

The new regional organization — which will include scientists based in North, South, and Central America — will launch sometime in 2004, according to Catherine Fenselau, professor of chemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park, and one of the leaders of the initiative. The other founding leaders include Sam Hanash, current president of HUPO International and professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan; and Mario Hugo Genero, director general of drug discovery company GEMA Biotech in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fenselau said that scientists from Canada are also involved in the early planning, and that the group is “working to contact people in all the countries between.”

The planning for HUPO Americas began at the HUPO Congress last month, according to Fenselau, when she, Hanash, and others first discussed the initiative and made the decision to go forward. It is still very early days, she said. No officers or council have yet been established and no headquarters have yet been chosen: all that will be determined in the coming months.

HUPO Americas will join existing regional HUPO branches in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Italy, Sweden, Germany, and France — many of which have their own pet projects — and another intercontinental branch, HUPO Asia-Oceania. Additionally, Hanash announced at the HUPO Congress that the headquarters for HUPO International will be in Montreal.

The establishment of HUPO Americas makes the US and its neighbors latecomers to what Fenselau sees as an inevitable decentralization trend for the organization. “International HUPO was always designed to be a coordinating society for regional and national human proteome organizations,” Fenselau said.

Just as AOHUPO and the various countrywide Asian HUPOs are focusing on liver proteomics — with CHUPO leading the Human Liver Proteome Project (see PM 8-15-03, 10-31-03) — and just as German HUPO is focusing on the brain and antibody initiatives, HUPO Americas will have a few points of regional focus as well, Fenselau said. One of these will be the Plasma Proteome Project, which is already centered in Michigan, although it has plenty of participants from around the world.

This model of having a national focus joined to a larger international effort was the intention of HUPO from the start and should be its ideal, according to Fenselau. “It’s sort of envisioned that these projects will be both international and national,” she said. She added that the liver project works the same way, and noted that the HUPO Americas founders have interest in adding a US–based partner project to the existing liver proteome initiatives. Additional potential initiatives might be a HUPO Americas antibody proteome initiative and an initiative in bioinformatics, she said. There are already several antibody initiatives grouped under the HUPO umbrella, but most are currently based in Europe, particularly in Germany (see PM 9-19-03, 10-10-03).

Fenselau also noted that the current organizers are actively seeking participants and welcome anyone with interest to contact them to see how they can help. She was unable, however, to give more details on the initiative due to its current early stage of planning. “This is very early information,” she said.

— KAM

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