Northwestern proteomics program receives grant

Peter Kotecki, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern was part of a group of universities awarded a $5.6 million grant by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to work on biomedical projects.

The University’s program for top-down proteomics — an area that makes it possible to access a protein’s complete sequence as well as locate and describe post-translational modifications — will expand as part of the National Resource for Translational and Developmental Proteomics.

The resource will establish centers for biomedical projects at other institutions including Harvard University, Cornell University and the University of California, Los Angeles. At NU, the resource includes a program for scientists from other universities to visit NU in an effort to learn top-down proteomics before applying it in their own laboratories.

Of the grant’s eight biomedical projects, four involve principal investigators from Northwestern— Teresa Woodruff, Shuo Ma, Michael Abecassis and John Wilkins. The scientists’ work ranges from investigating reproductive health to identifying proteins involved in transplant rejection prior to organ failure.

Chemistry, molecular biosciences and medicine Prof. Neil Kelleher said the center will work on developing new technology and applying it to biomedical projects.

“In testing and proving the value of top-down proteomics in clinical and basic research, we must also create a setting where early- and late-adopting labs can learn to be successful when conducting these high-value experiments,” Kelleher said in a news release.

Paul Thomas, associate director of the Proteomics Center of Excellence at NU, said proteomics is applicable to many fields of study.

“Where proteomics gains a handle is that while the genome of a liver, heart, or skin cell are all pretty much the same, the proteins within each act as the primary regulators of both the fate and function of cells,” Thomas said in a news release.

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