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Will the Private Sector Fulfill Promises or Provide HUPO With Opportunity in 2002?

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Looking ahead to 2002, HUPO President Sam Hanash told ProteoMonitor he expects the coming year to be critical both for proteomics companies and the organization he leads, as the two try to prove they can live up to their potential.

“For groups and companies [that] declared one or two years ago that their goals are doing something big in proteomics, then I think by 2002 they should have had enough of a lead time to tell the world what it is that they have done,” he said, citing Myriad Genetics and Celera as two examples of companies that have promised much but so far delivered little.

Celera has raised close to a billion dollars to apply towards its proteomics efforts, Hanash added, and by the end of 2002 Celera will have spent two years studying the proteome. “Knowing that it took less than that to do the whole genome, I would like to know how much they’ve been able to do with respect to the proteome,” he said.

But Hanash indicated that the private sector’s ability to fulfill its promises is not necessarily divorced from HUPO’s fortunes. On the other hand, Hanash said the potential for the major players to fall short of their goals presents opportunities for his organization, because corporations’ poor performance could make collaborations with academics more attractive.

“The contrasting view is that no one platform will tackle it all, and this creates opportunities for community efforts,” he said.

In its first year, however, HUPO was unable to rally its members around a common scientific cause, and Hanash admitted that HUPO will face pressure to prove that it can take on a leadership role.

“There has yet to be a formulation of what a major public initiative in proteomics would look like, be it a proteome project, or a multitude of proteome projects,” he said. “So I think 2002 is going to be crucial with respect to sketching out what a major public proteomics initiative would look like.”

Hanash said his other goals for HUPO during the year include holding its first annual congress and sponsoring training workshops. “HUPO would be expected to be definitely running as an established organization in 2002,” he said.

HUPO’s role in training scientists and graduate students in proteomics is especially important, Hanash said, because of the number of academic scientists who have migrated to industry over the last year. “Maybe that will reach equilibrium in a year or so,” he said, “but HUPO is very aware [of the need for training] and that’s part of our mission.”

— JSM

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