The Power List 2016
Professor, Department of Chemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA
Passion: Developing ionization technologies for mass spectrometry. MS requires the conversion of molecules into gas-phase ions and even though the advent of electrospray ionization and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization were great leaps forward, there remain multiple problems that require advances in ionization technologies.
Pivotal moment: The first pivotal moment came when we observed highly charged ions in what was expected to be a MALDI ionization process that primarily produces singly charged ions. The second came from the study of the fundamentals of this matrix-assisted ionization process. We observed the formation of multiply charged ions (even from proteins) when the analyte was incorporated into a special matrix compound and exposed to the vacuum of the mass spectrometer without using heat, a laser, or any other energy source. The method has been found to be both simple to implement and highly sensitive.
Prediction: Within the field of mass spectrometry, development of ion mobility interfaced with mass spectrometry and developments in ionization technologies are currently transforming the field, but five years from now, simplification and miniaturization of mass spectrometry will likely be the most game-changing development in moving MS towards end-user applications, such as bedside diagnostics. We are positioning our ionization technologies to be a part of this development.