37th International Symposium on Microscale Separations and Bioanalysis

The 37th International Symposium on Microscale Separations and Bioanalysis (MSB) 2021 eBoston will take place on July 12-15, 2021.

This year’s program will cover the most interesting developments from the past year, plus advances that we believe will make a splash in the years to come. The impressive scientific program of 120+ oral presentations will cover aspects related to all major microscale separation techniques including capillary electrophoresis (CE), liquid chromatography (LC), omics techniques (proteomics, metabolomics, etc.), microfluidics, mass spectrometry (MS), LC-MS, CE-MS, Lab-on-a-Chip devices, the fundamental aspects of micro- and nanofluidics, microchip fabrication, portable devices, as well as applications related to pharmaceutical sciences, biotechnology, clinical diagnostics, forensic toxicology, food analysis, nanoparticles, industrial chemicals, and more.

 

Key dates:

June 2021: Preliminary Program Posted at MSB-conferences.org

June 20, 2021: Deadline to submit poster abstract in competition for poster awards

June 24, 2021: Late-breaking poster abstract submission deadline

July 12-15, 2021: e-MSB 2021 symposium

Lab on a Chip is sponsoring the Plenary lecture by Professor Amy Herr, while Analyst, Analytical Methods and Lab on a Chip are sponsoring six poster prizes.

Register to attend here.

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37th International Symposium on Microscale Separations and Bioanalysis

Join us virtually from anywhere in the world and learn about solutions to the most pressing challenges of today and tomorrow.Welcome to MSB 2021, the premier 37th International Symposium on Microscale Separations and Bioanalysis, an exciting forum created to advance science through a unique and immersive conference experience that mimics the collegial atmosphere of in-person MSB meetings. MSB 2021 eBoston will take place on July 12-15, 2021. The conference promotes the sharing of innovative research by scientists from around the world and offers practical and educational information and solutions to challenging and pressing issues.

Microscale separations enable high-throughput and/or high-performance analyses at reduced costs and with a lower sample and solvents consumption, being therefore highly competitive analytical approaches in today’s research, including fundamental research, drug discovery and development, clinical and forensic toxicology, food analysis, and -omics approaches.

  • Learn about fundamental developments to applications that impact health, medicine, food, environment and beyond.
  • Hear from world-renowned experts about their latest innovative and sometimes controversial, but mostly unpublished, scientific research.
  • Explore ground-breaking technologies.
  • View new product launches.
  • Discover practical information to improve productivity.
  • Discuss challenges and solutions with colleagues.

Get real-world insights from thought leaders and future shapers on today’s most relevant and timely topics. 

This year’s program will cover the most interesting developments from the past year, plus advances that we believe will make a splash in the years to come. The impressive scientific program of 120+ oral presentations will cover aspects related to all major microscale separation techniques including capillary electrophoresis (CE), liquid chromatography (LC), omics techniques (proteomics, metabolomics, etc.), microfluidics, mass spectrometry (MS), LC-MS, CE-MS, Lab-on-a-Chip devices, the fundamental aspects of micro- and nanofluidics, microchip fabrication, portable devices, as well as applications related to pharmaceutical sciences, biotechnology, clinical diagnostics, forensic toxicology, food analysis, nanoparticles, industrial chemicals, and more.

4 Full Days of Engaging Scientific Sessions.

Oral presentations are time wise split in 2/3 talk and 1/3 discussion. 

Check out the scientific program at https://msb-conferences.org/ 

Register for attendance here.

MSB 2021 will deliver strong scientific content with opportunities for engagement and building connections. The program is packed with 4 full days of invited and contributed talks, general and parallel sessions with heavy focus on live Q&A by world renowned experts who will share their latest innovative and sometimes controversial, but mostly unpublished, scientific research results, workshops/seminars, exhibition, and a strong poster program where each presenter will upload a pdf of their presentation to their poster virtual board and will have an opportunity to upload a 5-minute pre-recorded video about the work presented in the poster, which will be broadcasted in the session of lightning talks that will be available for on-demand viewing for the duration of the conference. The program will include sponsored video highlights, poster pitch presentations, pre-recorded lightning talks, young scientist and best poster competitions, and awards to recognize outstanding contributions to science and innovative break-through research.

Plenary Lecturers.

  • “Electrophoretic Cytometry: Single-cell and Sub-cellular Targeted Proteomics using Microfluidic Design” – AMY E. HERR, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
  • “Organoids Microphysiological Analysis Platforms (MAP) and Exosome Detection via the Ultrafast-isolation System (EXODUS)” – LUKE P. LEE, Harvard Medical School and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
  • “Robust and In-depth Work Flows for Single Cell and Clinical Proteomics” – MATTHIAS MANN, Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry, Munich, GERMANY and University of Copenhagen, DENMARK
  • “Microfluidic Sorting of Extremely Rare Circulating Tumor Cells and Clusters from Blood” – MEHMET TONER, Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School, Harvard-MIT Health Sciences & Technology, Boston, MA, USA
  • “Toward Universal Druggability” – GREGORY VERDINE, LifeMine Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • “Advances in Proteomics” – JOHN YATES, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA

Competitions with Awards and Prizes. 

  • MSB Young Scientist Award
  • SCIEX Microscale Separations Innovation Medal Award for current and breakthrough research in the field of Electrodriven Separations
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific Early Career Award for breakthrough research advancing the field of Microscale Separations and Bioanalysis
  • Best Poster Awards

e-Science Café Workshops. 

  • Bruker
  • SCIEX
  • VICI
  • Agilent
  • Phenomenex
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific

Tutorial. 

  • Capillary Iso-Electric Focusing (CIEF) – Prime Methodology for Protein Characterization – Dr. Gerard Rozing, ROZING.COM Consulting, Karlsruhe, Germany
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Dr Prakash Chandra Mondal: New Analyst Advisory Board Member

We are pleased to welcome Dr Prakash Chandra Mondal (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India) to the Analyst Advisory Board.


Dr. Mondal’s research interests lie at the interface of chemistry, physics, and biology, creating new multifunctional molecular nanofilms that are suitable for studying charge-transport phenomena under a series of external stimuli such as solvents, electric and magnetic fields and thermal effects. He completed doctoral study on “surface chemistry of photo and electroactive metal-polypyridyl complexes” and obtained his PhD at the University of Delhi (India) in 2013.

Subsequently, he moved to the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) to join Professor Ron Naaman’s research group for his postdoctoral work, where he studied spin-dependent electrochemical charge-transfer processes in chiral molecules embedded on ferromagnetic electrodes. In 2016, he joined Professor Richard McCreery’s Group at the National Institute for Nanotechnology (Canada), focusing on carbon-based molecular electronics. He was a Marie-Curie post-doctoral fellow (November 2017–March 2019) and worked with Professor Eugenio Coronado at ICMoL, the University of Valencia (Spain) prior to joining the Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (India) as an Assistant Professor in April 2019.

More details about the research activity of the Mondal group can be found here.

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Dr Claudia Conti: New Analyst Advisory Board Member

We are pleased to welcome Dr Claudia Conti (National Research Council, Italy) to the Analyst Advisory Board.


Claudia Conti is a senior researcher at the Institute of Heritage Science (ISPC) of the National Research Council (Italy). She completed her MSc degree in Geological Science at the University of Perugia (Italy) in 2002. In 2010, she completed her PhD in Materials Engineering at Politecnico di Milano (Italy), on the topic of “Calcium oxalate: chemical stability, conservation treatment based on ammonium oxalate, historical films”.

Dr Conti’s work is characterised by a highly multidisciplinary approach, which covers the areas of physical and chemical sciences applied to the conservation of Cultural Heritage. Her main research interests include Raman spectroscopy, notably the development of a new Raman method (micro-SORS) for the non-invasive subsurface investigation of Cultural Heritage materials. This work led Dr Conti to win the 2020 Craver Award presented by the Coblentz Society, which highlights the efforts of young spectroscopists that have made significant contributions in applied analytical vibrational spectroscopy.

Dr Conti’s other research interests include inorganic mineral products for conservation and the use of non-invasive instruments and methods for conservation science. She has over 75 peer-reviewed publications.

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ABS Trust: Gordon F. Kirkbright and Edward Steers Bursary Awards, 2022.

The Gordon F. Kirkbright bursary award is a prestigious annual award that assists a promising early career scientist of any nation to attend a recognised scientific meeting or visit a place of learning. The fund for this bursary was established in 1985 as a memorial to Professor Gordon Kirkbright in recognition of his contributions to analytical spectroscopy and to science in general.

Owing to the generosity of one of our former trustees, an eminent atomic spectroscopist, Professor Edward B.M. Steers, we are now able to award an annual Edward Steers bursary, in addition to the long standing Gordon Kirkbright bursary, to similarly assist a promising early scientist engaged in or utilising analytical spectroscopic techniques.

The ABS Trust defines early career as being either a student, or an employee in a non-tenured academic post or in industry, within 7 years of award of PhD excluding career breaks. The same conditions apply to each bursary.

Applications are invited for both the 2022 Gordon Kirkbright Bursary and the 2022 Edward Steers Bursary.  Although both funds are administered by the ABS Trust, the Kirkbright award is not restricted to spectroscopists, but is open to all involved with or utilising analytical science-based techniques.

Application Forms can be downloaded via:

http://www.abstrust.org/kirkbright-and-steers-bursary-awards

or for further information visit:

http://www.abstrust.org/ or contact abstrustuk.kirkbright@gmail.com

The closing date for entries is 30 November 2021.

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Analyst Desktop Seminar featuring Yi-Lun Ying and Jaebum Choo

The Royal Society of Chemistry is delighted to announce our inaugural free, online-only RSC Desktop Seminar Lectureship Series, featuring virtual talks by our recent journal lectureship winners. Each session will include an introductory talk by a journal board member as well as the lectureship winner. The RSC Desktop Seminar Lectureship Series is an effort to not only replace in-person research seminars during the current pandemic situation but to also expand access for researchers around the world looking to connect to some of the leading minds in the chemical sciences.

This webinar will allow researchers to hear from the Analyst Emerging Investigator Lectureship 2020 winner.

Analyst desktop seminar: Register now!

23rd February 2021; 8am GMT/4pm CST

 

Speakers

  • Jaebum Choo (Chung-Ang University) – “Application of nanodimple-based SERS sensors for ultrasensitive detection of COVID-19 biomarkers”
  • Yi-Lun Ying (Nanjing University) – “Nanopore Dynamic Chemistry for Single-Molecule Sensing”

 

Programme

16:00 CST   Introduction

16:05 CST   Application of nanodimple-based SERS sensors for ultrasensitive detection of COVID-19                                                                               biomarkers – Jaebum Choo

16:25 CST   Questions

16:30 CST   Nanopore Dynamic Chemistry for Single-Molecule Sensing – Yi-Lun Ying

17.10 CST   Questions

17.25 CST   Closing remarks

 

Featuring:

Professor Jaebum Choo

Jaebum Choo is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Chung-Ang University. He obtained a PhD in Molecular Spectroscopy at Texas A&M University in 1994. From 1995-2019, he was a faculty member of Hanyang University. He was a Director of the “Center for Integrated Human Sensing System” (ERC, 2009-2013) and a BK21+ Director of Bionano Fusion Technology Program (2013-2019) supported by National Research Foundation of Korea. Professor Choo became a Baik Nam Distinguished Professor in 2015 due to his excellent academic achievements. His main research areas are SERS, biosensors, micro-devices and molecular spectroscopy. His current research programs are centered on the development of highly sensitive optical nano-sensor systems for rapid and sensitive in vitro diagnostics. He has given more than 130 invited lectures in the USA, Europe and Asia, published over 250 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and contributed six book chapters.

Scientific talk: Application of nanodimple-based SERS sensors for ultrasensitive detection of COVID-19 biomarkers

Dr Yi-Lun Ying

Dr. Yi-Lun Ying received her B.Sc in Fine Chemistry (2009), and Ph.D in Analytical Chemistry (2014) from East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST). After a doctoral exchange study in the University of Birmingham (2014), Dr. Ying carried out her postdoctoral research on nanopore single-molecule analysis and nanoscaled biosensors at ECUST. Since 2016, she started her independent work on the nanopore electrochemistry at ECUST. In 2019, she was promoted to professor at State Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Life Science in Nanjing University and also acted as a co-PI at the Chemistry and Biomedicine Innovation Center.Dr. Ying currently focuses on developing electro-optical nanopore sensing modules for addressing peptide/protein sequencing and revealing the heterogeneous structure-activity relationship of the single biomolecules. To push the detection limit of the electrochemical measurement, her team is currently exploring the advanced artificial intelligence for nanopore arrays and innovating new sensing mechanisms to reserve the richest single molecule dynamics.

Scientific talk: Nanopore Dynamic Chemistry for Single-Molecule Sensing

We hope that you can join us for this exciting event.

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Analyst Desktop Seminar featuring Yi-Lun Ying and Jaebum Choo

The Royal Society of Chemistry is delighted to announce our inaugural free, online-only RSC Desktop Seminar Lectureship Series, featuring virtual talks by our recent journal lectureship winners. Each session will include an introductory talk by a journal board member as well as the lectureship winner. The RSC Desktop Seminar Lectureship Series is an effort to not only replace in-person research seminars during the current pandemic situation but to also expand access for researchers around the world looking to connect to some of the leading minds in the chemical sciences.

This webinar will allow researchers to hear from the Analyst Emerging Investigator Lectureship 2020 winner.

Register now!


Date & Time: 23rd February 2021; 8am GMT/4pm CST

Speakers

  • Jaebum Choo (Chung-Ang University) – “Application of nanodimple-based SERS sensors for ultrasensitive detection of COVID-19 biomarkers”
  • Yi-Lun Ying (Nanjing University) – “Nanopore Dynamic Chemistry for Single-Molecule Sensing”

Programme

16:00 CST    Introduction from Analyst Executive Editor, Philippa Ross

16:05 CST    Application of nanodimple-based SERS sensors for ultrasensitive detection of COVID-19                                                                               biomarkers – Jaebum Choo

16:25 CST    Questions

16:30 CST    Nanopore Dynamic Chemistry for Single-Molecule Sensing – Yi-Lun Ying

17.10 CST    Questions

17.25 CST    Closing remarks

 

Featuring:

Professor Jaebum Choo

Jaebum Choo is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Chung-Ang University. He obtained a PhD in Molecular Spectroscopy at Texas A&M University in 1994. From 1995-2019, he was a faculty member of Hanyang University. He was a Director of the “Center for Integrated Human Sensing System” (ERC, 2009-2013) and a BK21+ Director of Bionano Fusion Technology Program (2013-2019) supported by National Research Foundation of Korea. Professor Choo became a Baik Nam Distinguished Professor in 2015 due to his excellent academic achievements. His main research areas are SERS, biosensors, micro-devices and molecular spectroscopy. His current research programs are centered on the development of highly sensitive optical nano-sensor systems for rapid and sensitive in vitro diagnostics. He has given more than 130 invited lectures in the USA, Europe and Asia, published over 250 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and contributed six book chapters.

Scientific talk: Application of nanodimple-based SERS sensors for ultrasensitive detection of COVID-19 biomarkers

 

Dr Yi-Lun Ying

Dr. Yi-Lun Ying received her B.Sc in Fine Chemistry (2009), and Ph.D in Analytical Chemistry (2014)

Yilun Ying

from East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST). After a doctoral exchange study in the University of Birmingham (2014), Dr. Ying carried out her postdoctoral research on nanopore single-molecule analysis and nanoscaled biosensors at ECUST. Since 2016, she started her independent work on the nanopore electrochemistry at ECUST. In 2019, she was promoted to professor at State Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Life Science in Nanjing University and also acted as a co-PI at the Chemistry and Biomedicine Innovation Center.Dr. Ying currently focuses on developing electro-optical nanopore sensing modules for addressing peptide/protein sequencing and revealing the heterogeneous structure-activity relationship of the single biomolecules. To push the detection limit of the electrochemical measurement, her team is currently exploring the advanced artificial intelligence for nanopore arrays and innovating new sensing mechanisms to reserve the richest single molecule dynamics.

Scientific talk: Nanopore Dynamic Chemistry for Single-Molecule Sensing


We hope that you can join us for this exciting event.

 

 

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Karen Faulds’ Editor’s Choice Collection in Analyst

We are delighted that Professor Karen Faulds (University of Strathclyde, UK) recently joined the Analyst Editorial Board.

“I am delighted and honoured to have joined Analyst as an Associate Editor and look forward to contributing in a positive way to the publishing activities of the RSC as we address inequalities and improve diversity in publishing. This is an issue I feel very passionately about and will work hard to improve during my time as an Associate Editor” says Professor Faulds.

Professor Faulds’ research focuses on using surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) to create new approaches to bioanalysis for use in the life and clinical sciences. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Strathclyde Director of the EPSRC and MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Optical Medical Imaging, and was named as one of the Top 100 Influential Analytical Scientists (2019) by The Analytical Scientist.

Professor Faulds is looking forward to handling submissions in the areas of spectroscopy, analytical nanoscience, bioanalytical sensors, and biomedical analysis and diagnostics.

Professor Faulds has looked back at SERS papers published in Analyst over the last few years, and highlighted some of the most exciting and outstanding contributions for her Editor’s Choice collection below. She adds that “it was very challenging to select this collection of representative articles due to the high number of excellent SERS articles published in Analyst. I hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as I did, and that these demonstrate the breadth and depth of SERS research published in Analyst; from multiplexed bioassays to imaging to SESORS.”


A graphene oxide/gold nanoparticle-based amplification method for SERS immunoassay of cardiac troponin I
Xiuli Fu, Yunqing Wang, Yongming Liu, Huitao Liu, Longwen Fu, Jiahui Wen, Jingwen Li, Peihai Wei and Lingxin Chen
Paper, from our Bioanalytical Sensors themed collection
Analyst, 2019, 144, 1582-1589

Protein corona-resistant SERS tags for live cell detection of integrin receptors
Sian Sloan-Dennison, MaKenzie R. Bevins, Brian T. Scarpitti, Victoria K. Sauvé and Zachary D. Schultz
Paper
Analyst, 2019, 144, 5538-5546

Rapid differentiation of Campylobacter jejuni cell wall mutants using Raman spectroscopy, SERS and mass spectrometry combined with chemometrics
Malama Chisanga, Dennis Linton, Howbeer Muhamadali, David I. Ellis, Richard L. Kimber, Aleksandr Mironov and Royston Goodacre
Paper, from our Analytical Nanoscience themed collection
Analyst, 2020, 145, 1236-1249

Highly sensitive detection of exosomes by SERS using gold nanostar@Raman reporter@nanoshell structures modified with a bivalent cholesterol-labeled DNA anchor
Ya-Fei Tian, Cui-Fang Ning, Fang He, Bin-Cheng Yin and  Bang-Ce Ye
Paper, HOT article
Analyst, 2018, 143, 4915-4922

A rapid dual-channel readout approach for sensing carbendazim with 4-aminobenzenethiol-functionalized core-shell Au@Ag nanoparticles
Kaiqiang Wang, Da-Wen Sun, Hongbin Pu and Qingyi Wei
Paper
Analyst, 2020, 145, 1801-1809

Surface enhanced Raman scattering sensor for highly sensitive and selective detection of ochratoxin A
Raymond Gillibert, Mohamed N. Triba and Marc Lamy de la Chapelle
Paper, from our Analytical Nanoscience and Bioanalytical Sensors themed collections
Analyst, 2018, 143, 339-345

Dynamic pH measurements of intracellular pathways using nano-plasmonic assemblies
Kazuki Bando, Zhiqiang Zhang, Duncan Graham, Karen Faulds, Katumasa Fujita and Satoshi Kawata
Paper, from our Analytical Nanoscience themed collection
Analyst, 2020, 145, 5768-5775

Multiplexed detection of biomarkers in lateral-flow immunoassays
Lei Huang, Shulin Tian, Wenhao Zhao, Ke Liu, Xing Ma and Jinhong Guo
Minireview
Analyst, 2020, 145, 2828-2840

PEGylated nanographene-mediated metallic nanoparticle clusters for surface enhanced Raman scattering-based biosensing
Ahmed Ali, Eun Young Hwang, Jaebum Choo and Dong Woo Lim
Paper
Analyst, 2018, 143, 2604-2615

Surface-enhanced spatially-offset Raman spectroscopy (SESORS) for detection of neurochemicals through the skull at physiologically relevant concentrations
Amber S. Moody, Taylor D. Payne, Brian A. Barth and Bhavya Sharma
Paper, from our Analytical Science in Neurochemistry themed collection
Analyst, 2020, 145, 1885-1893

Direct monitoring of light mediated hyperthermia induced within mammalian tissues using surface enhanced spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (T-SESORS)
Benjamin Gardner, Pavel Matousek and Nick Stone
Paper, Open Access
Analyst, 2019, 144, 3552-3555

Paper-based SERS analysis with smartphones as Raman spectral analyzers
Fanyu Zeng, Taotao Mou, Chengchen Zhang, Xiaoqing Huang, Bing Wang, Xing Ma and Jinhong Guo
Communication, HOT article, from our Analytical Nanoscience themed collection
Analyst, 2019, 144, 137-142

Rapid and specific duplex detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus genes by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy
Phani R. Potluri, Vinoth Kumar Rajendran, Anwar Sunna and Yuling Wang
Paper
Analyst, 2020, 145, 2789-2794


 

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Analyst Emerging Investigator Lectureship 2021 – Nominations Open!

Analyst Emerging Investigator Lectureship 2021

Analyst is delighted to announce the fourth Analyst Emerging Investigator Lectureship is open for nominations.

The Analyst Emerging Investigator Lectureship is a platform for an early career analytical scientist to raise the profile of the analytical sciences to the wider scientific community and general public.

 

Lectureship details

  • The recipient will receive up to £2000 contribution towards travel and accommodation costs to attend and present a lecture based on their research at a leading international meeting.*
  • Recipients will be invited to contribute a review to Analyst in the following year.

 

How to nominate

Self-nomination is not permitted.

Nominators must send the following to the editorial team (at analyst-rsc@rsc.org) by 16th April 2021.

  • A recommendation letter, including the name, contact details and website URL of the nominee.
  • A one-page CV for the nominee, including their date of birth, summary of education and career, a list of up to five of their top independent publications, total numbers of publications.
  • A one-page statement of achievement with a lay summary, written by the nominee describing their best accomplishments.
  • A supporting letter of recommendation from an independent referee. Ideally this should not be someone from the same institution or the nominee’s post doc or PhD supervisor.

The nominator and independent referee should comment on the candidate’s presenting skills.

Incomplete nominations or those not adhering to the above requirements will not be considered.

Particulars and selection criteria

  • To be eligible for the Lectureship, nominees typically will be within 10 years of completing their PhD, but appropriate consideration will be given to those who have taken a career break or followed a different study path.
  • The editorial team will screen each nomination for eligibility and draw up a shortlist of candidates based on the nomination documents provided.
  • The recipient of the Lectureship will then be selected by the Analyst Editorial Board.

For any queries, please contact the editorial team at analyst-rsc@rsc.org.

Previous winners

2020 – Yi-Lun Ying

2018 – Wei Min

2016 – Patrick L. Hayes

 

*Should the Covid-19 outbreak prevent travel to an international meeting, the recipient will still be eligible to receive the prize.

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Emerging Investigator Series – Rebecca Whelan

Analyst is delighted to introduce our latest Emerging Investigator, Rebecca Whelan! You can read Dr Whelan’s paper, Affinity-free enrichment and mass spectrometry analysis of the ovarian cancer biomarker CA125 (MUC16) from patient-derived ascites, and find out more about her in the interview below!


Rebecca Whelan was born and raised in various small Wisconsin towns. She earned her B.A. with a double major in Chemistry and English from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. She then moved west, joining Dick Zare’s lab at Stanford University for graduate work. Her focus there was the development of biosensor detectors for capillary electrophoresis (CE) separations. CE separations and affinity recognition remained core themes during her postdoc with Bob Kennedy at the University of Michigan and the start of her independent career at Oberlin College. Rebecca established a vigorous bioanalytical chemistry research program centered on undergraduate scholars at Oberlin and remained there for 14 years. She was excited to have the chance to relocate to the University of Notre Dame in August 2018. The Whelan lab at Notre Dame works in bioanalytical chemistry, using molecular recognition, small-scale separations, and mass spectrometry to characterize and detect ovarian cancer biomarkers.


  1. Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on analysis of an ovarian cancer biomarker, using mass spectrometry. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

Our first article on using mass spectrometry to analyse ovarian cancer biomarker CA125 (MUC16) was a method development paper, in which we showed the compatibility of suspension trapping with this large mucin protein (Anal Bioanal Chem, 2020, 412, 6361-6370). That study used two commercially available sources of CA125, one being a truncated variant expressed in CHO cells, and the other being full-length protein isolated from pooled human biofluids. The innovation in this most recent paper is analysing the CA125 isolated from the biofluids of individual ovarian cancer patients.

 

  1. What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

We are excited—and humbled—by the opportunity to continue working with samples from individuals with ovarian cancer. As we apply our bottom-up proteomics analysis strategy to samples derived from a larger number of individuals, we will look both for what is shared among samples and what is unique to individuals. The possibility of breaking through the current paradigm of how CA125 is detected to find a personalized CA125 signature that is detectable by mass spectrometry is very exciting to us. Such an innovation would generate new opportunities in personalized care for this serious disease. At the same time, we will continue to push the analytical performance of our method, lowering the limit of detection and improving quantitation through targeted analysis.

 

  1. In your opinion, what is the biggest advantage to using a mass spectrometry based assay, over other possible methods of analysis?

CA125 is currently detected through an immunoassay that has remain largely unchanged for decades. As with any immunoassay, what the assay really detects is an epitope, which in this case is mostly likely a discontinuous peptide sequence. Amazingly, the epitopes of CA125 have not been definitively identified (although we, and others, are actively working on that!) We wondered: what if some CA125 proteoforms in a patient’s blood happen to contain fewer epitopes, or happen to present epitopes in configurations that are not detectable by the immunoassay? Such samples would be incorrectly assessed as containing less CA125 than they actually do, which could have significant clinical implications. Mass spectrometry side-steps this dependence on epitope recognition completely.

 

  1. What do you find most challenging about your research?

CA125 (MUC16) is a challenging analyte. It’s the second-largest protein in the human body, with a variable molecular weight of 3 to 5 MDa, depending on its glycosylation. Like many other mucin proteins, it’s sticky: after all, one of its biological functions is to make mucus! In practical terms, this large size and stickiness means that if you aren’t careful, the protein will adsorb irreversibly to tips and tubes while also sticking to itself. In previous work, my group used this stickiness to advantage, performing aptamer selection inside tubes to which CA125 had adsorbed (J. Nucleic Acids, 2017, Article ID 9879135, 9 pages). For quantitation, however, the stickiness poses an obstacle that must be overcome. In addition to the analyte’s innate challenge, we work with a challenging sample matrix: crude human biofluid is our starting material. Any analyst who has tried to transition an assay from well-controlled conditions (commercially available analyte dissolved in buffer) to real-life samples knows that complexity and challenge abound in the real world. We firmly believe, however, that analytical researchers must strive to work within this complexity, because that it how real benefit to human health can be achieved.

 

  1. At which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

Naviya Schuster-Little—the graduate student who is first author on this paper—will be presenting at Pittcon 2021 in a virtual session (Tuesday, March 9, 8:30 am – 8:50 am) and would love to hear your feedback and answer your questions! I am a devoted attendee of the Midwestern Universities Analytical Chemistry Conference (MUACC) and the Gordon Research Conference on Bioanalytical Sensors, as well as Pittcon.

 

  1. How do you spend your spare time?

Music is a big part of my life. I’ve had several stints as a DJ on college radio stations in cities where I’ve lived, including Appleton, Wisconsin (WLFM) and Oberlin, Ohio (WOBC). I also love to cook (vegetarian, mostly) and go on rambles in places both familiar and unfamiliar.

 

  1. Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

I’m from a family of educators and can’t imagine a life that does not involve teaching in some capacity. As an undergraduate, I completed an English major as well as a Chemistry major and edited my college’s literary magazine. After college, I seriously considered earning a PhD in 17th century English literature (I love John Donne!) or an MFA in poetry. So maybe I would be a teacher of writing or literature.


If you are interested in reading other articles from the Emerging Investigator Series, you can find them here.

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