Director, Kavli Institute of Nanoscience Discovery, University of Oxford, UK
Qualities of an innovative thinker? Not to be constrained by existing dogma. Just because something is predicted not to work, it doesn’t mean it will never yield anything interesting. Early in my career, the widely held view was that proteins in the gas phase of a mass spectrometer would invert such that their hydrophobic core would be exposed. This is now clearly not the case. Had we not doubted this dogma, we might never have tried to fly protein complexes in a mass spectrometer.
Making the most out of your invention… I am often motivated by the issues that surround me. From COVID-19 to cancer, depression to dementia – these are conditions that have affected us all, whether directly or indirectly, and that makes me more determined to bring our tools to bear to try to bring new understanding and provide new insights.
Most exciting development or trend? For me, it has to be the ability to see protein complexes from tissues. Following careful extraction, so as not to perturb the interactions, we then use advanced mass spectrometry to interrogate the composition of a complex. I find it fascinating to think about what changes we might find between healthy and diseased states, and I’m very excited about how our understanding of those differences will inform potential disease treatments.