Mass Spectrometry & Spectroscopy

64th ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics

Jul 04 2016 Comments 0

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Held in San Antonio from 5th to 9th June, 2016 at the Henry B. González Convention Center, San Antonio, Texas USA

A very hot and steamy San Antonio, Texas saw the conference start early for many attendees; with one-and two-day short courses beginning on Saturday and Sunday 4th and 5th June from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, and later on Sunday afternoon with two informative tutorial lectures from 5:00 to 6:30 pm.  
The brief opening ceremony was followed by a very interesting lecture entitled ‘A Molecular Toolkit for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers’ presented by Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire from the The Scripps Institute-La Jolla, California. Professor Ollmann Saphire, a leading X-Ray Crystallographer, discussed how the recent Ebola virus outbreak of 2014-2016 had 30,000 sufferers which all started from a single 2-year-old child playing in a tree. She continued by explaining how, from a genetic perspective, these viruses (Ebola filovirus has 7 genes and Lassa arenavirus has 4 genes) were simple compared to the human with 20,000 genes and then posed the question “How do these limited gene viruses create so many mutations”. Professor Ollmann Saphire’s work has revolved around attempting to answer this question by utilising x-ray crystallography and modelling and solving the conundrum, “that in vitro experiments do not predict in vivo results”. Even though this was a mass spectrometry conference she only referenced mass spectrometry three times in her presentation, the final time being a heartfelt plea to the mass spectrometry community for “help in finding the molecular evolution that takes place in viruses, human proteins, diseases and drug targets”.
This was followed by the Opening Reception, located in the poster-exhibit hall, which was an opportunity to eat, drink and meet up with colleagues and friends. Heavy hors d’oeuvres (yes, enough for dinner!), free Rye Saison and India Pale Ale beers from the Granary which is brewed in San Antonio and a cash bar for wine were all available. Technical posters were not posted until Monday morning at 10:30, making this the ideal time to connect with exhibitors at their booths.

Monday saw ASMS start in earnest at 08:30 with 128 parallel oral sessions of the scientific programme over the four days (32 sessions daily running concurrently) and culminating in the plenary lecture, ‘More than the Sum of its Parts: Collective Phenomena in Living Systems, from Single Molecules to Flocks of Birds’, presented by William Bialek of Princeton University, Princeton New Jersey.
This year there was a much more manageable 2982 posters (compared to 3141 in 2015) displayed during the week covering topics from antibody and antibody drug conjugates (Intact and characterisation) to imaging MS for disease markers and daily workshops ensuring that if you did not utilise a prior selection process of some sort you would miss out on many interesting topics, and have very sore feet.  If you weren’t exhausted by 17:00 then there were 14 Workshops running daily Monday to Wednesday from 17:45 to 19:00 leaving one hour for dinner before the Corporate Hospitality suites swung into action at 20:00; providing endless snacks, refreshments and entertainment ranging from music, line dancing, kicking some mass – with sheriff’s deputies, tee-shirts and cowboy hats - all lasting until 23:00.
Attendance was up slightly (3%), compared to the ASMS 2015 conference, at 6276 (see Table 1 for recent history) with attendees from the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and Asia there in force. There were 188 (171 in 2015) exhibit booths.


Table 1. ASMS attendees by year.
Year    Location    Total Attendees
2009    Philadelphia    6,530
2010    Salt Lake City    6,096
2011    Denver    6,477
2012    Vancouver    6,277
2013    Minneapolis    6,140
2014    Baltimore    6,913
2015     St. Louis    6,100
2016    San Antonio    6,276

ASMS Awards

2016 Award for a Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry
The 2016 ASMS Award for a Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry was awarded to Dr Scott A. McLuckey, the John A. Leighty Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.
The study of ion/ion reactions originated with J.J. Thomson and have played a central role in mass spectrometry since its inception. Gas-phase ion chemistry formed the basis for Dr McLuckey’s work and pioneering contributions to the understanding of the gas-phase ion/ion reactions of polyatomic molecules and their applications in analytical mass spectrometry. Ion/ion reactions have not been utilised in mainstream mass spectrometry until relatively recently with the introduction of techniques such as electrospray and the use of electrodynamic ion traps.
Dr McLuckey and co-workers, have since 1990 followed a line of research employing electrospray and ion traps that has revealed an array of ion/ion reactions that significantly expand the scope of tandem mass spectrometry, particularly in biological mass spectrometry focusing on both understanding the dynamics of ion/ion reactions and on developing ion/ion reactions for analytical applications. He and his co-workers demonstrated that ion/ion reactions in ion traps can be both highly efficient and fast.
In recent years, McLuckey’s group have expanded ion/ion chemistry to include selective metal ion insertion/removal and functional group specific covalent bond formation. Collectively, these chemistries, along with proton and electron transfer, significantly expanded the power of MS/MS in characterising peptides, proteins, oligonucleotides and lipids.

Biemann Medal

Dr Kristina Håkansson, professor in the Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor was awarded the 2016 Biemann Medal for her contributions related to her work on the mechanisms of electron-based activation methods, including electron capture dissociation, electron detachment dissociation, and electron induced dissociation and the utilisation of these methods to identify and characterise biological molecules such as peptides, oligonucleotides, and oligosaccharides.
The challenges and opportunities with the structural characterisation of complex biological molecules inspired the development of many new activation methods such as ones involving the attachment or detachment of an electron to an ion. Dr Håkansson’s work focused on deciphering the mechanisms of electron-activated dissociation and showing the outstanding utility of these methods for the analysis of nucleic acids, oligosaccharides, and peptides including ones with labile modifications like phosphorylation. Her group has shown that electron-activated dissociation methods are gentle enough to allow the preservation of higher order structures of nucleic acids.
Ron A. Hites Award Outstanding Research Publication in JASMS
The Ron Hites Award, which includes $2,000 and a certificate for each author, recognises an outstanding original research publication, based on its innovation, technical and presentation quality, likely stimulation of future research and impact on future applications. The 2016 award recognises Kevin Pagel, Max Planck Society Berlin, and, co-authors Waldemar Hoffmann and Johanna Hofmann for their paper entitled, ‘Energy-Resolved Ion Mobility-Mass Spectrometry: A Concept to Improve the Separation of Isomeric Carbohydrates’, which was published in JASMS (2014) 25, 471-479.

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