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Techniques & Tools Proteomics, Liquid Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry

Million Peak Performance

Peter Schoenmakers, Professor of Analytical and Forensic Science at the University of Amsterdam (and a member of The Analytical Scientist’s Editorial Advisory Board since its inception), has been awarded a prestigious 2.5 million euro grant by the European Research Council for his “Separation Technology for A Million Peaks” – or STAMP – project.

The ambitious aim of STAMP is to leverage three dimensions of liquid chromatography separation to generate peak capacities that eclipse traditional methods. “One of the big issues in proteomics is that there are a lot of unresolved peaks that cannot be identified by mass spectrometry,” Schoenmakers says. “Ruedi Aebersold refers to these as the ‘Dark Matter of Proteomics’ and my ambition is to be able to resolve up to one million peaks, so that we can figure out what they are.”

The Advanced Grant allows “outstanding research leaders […] to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects” without being tied to the needs of industry (1) – something that is important to Schoenmakers. “I’m very happy, especially since it is a project with great academic freedom,” he says. “We have many stimulating projects together with industry, but we can  determine how to fill in the STAMP project ourselves.”

The research could have significant impact across several key industries, including health, food and renewable energy. But, according to Schoenmakers, the team is well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead and will embrace collaboration across multiple fields to fulfill the needs of the project. “We have a great team of people within my own group, but we also plan to collaborate with other great groups within our university and beyond; for example, Govert Somsen on biopharmaceuticals, and with partners in engineering, such as Gert Desmet and Bas Eeltink of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, who I hope will help us with the physical design.”

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About the Author

Joanna Cummings

A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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