John Yates III
The Power List 2013
John Yates III
Professor, Department of Cell Biology The Scripps Research Institute, California, USA
Congratulations on topping The Power List!
“It’s quite an honor. Surprising too, given that there are so many good analytical chemists out there.”
What do you consider to be your biggest impacts on the field?
“There are two, and they are connected. One is the development of software methods to search tandem mass spectrometry data for sequence databases. That enabled the other, shotgun proteomics, which allows large-scale analysis of proteomes.”
What keeps you excited about your work and at the leading edge?
“Besides fear of losing funding? It’s the power of the technology that we and others have developed in quantitative proteomics to enable the study of all kinds of new things. As new questions come up in biology it often requires technology development to get a real insight, and that’s made life fun over the last 20 years.”
So is life science today first and foremost a technology-driven venture?
“In my view it always has been. Generating questions from biological research is of course important but when new technologies come around that can be applied to biology it can open up whole areas that hadn’t previously been thought of.”
Do the technologies get the credit that they deserve for this?
“No, not at all. Most of the high profile awards are given for biological and medical discoveries; very few go to people who develop technology. Maybe we need an Oscar’s-type ceremony for technologists!”