Modern Instrumental Biochemistry

Modern biological research uses both the traditional techniques of gel electrophoresis, western blots and protein sequencing via Edman degradation, as well as the newer instrumentation intensive techniques of high performance chromatography, nuclear magnetic resonance, X-ray crystallography, and mass spectrometry. These new instrumentation intensive techniques have made possible the growing array of sophisticated projects such as the Human Genome Project (made possible by rugged, high performance capillary electrophoretic chromatography) and the vast number and improved quality of protein 3D structures now available (made possible by improved crystallographic and NMR methods). The current growth field in instrumental biochemistry is the field known as “Proteomics”.

Mass Spectrometry is the primary enabling technology for the burgeoning field of instrumental biology. The core development that is driving “Proteomics” is improvements in the sensitivity, automation, resolution, sample handling protocols, and mass accuracy of the mass spectrometers. The goal of our research group is to develop and improve the needed mass spectrometry instrumentation with an eye toward applications of biological and medical interest.

Among mass spectrometers, the Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometer (FTMS) is universally regarded as superior to other mass spectrometers in resolving power, mass accuracy, sensitivity, and flexibility. However, the development of this crucial instrumentation has lagged behind many other instruments due to the perceived complexity. Many fundamental developments have yet to be made and applied in FTMS.