UAMS Hosts National Proteomics Symposium

By Marty Trieschmann

Hosted by the IDeA National Resource for Quantitative Proteomics in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the two-day event drew proteomics directors and staff from Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Puerto Rico.

Created in 2016 by Cancer Institute Deputy Director Alan Tackett, Ph.D., the proteomics national resource at UAMS is a model for other universities nationwide and is only National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)-funded national resource for quantitative proteomics in the United States. Rick Edmondson, Ph.D., UAMS professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, oversees the daily operations of the facility along with Sam Macintosh, Ph.D., associate professor.

Dennis Province, Ph.D., principal staff scientist and outreach coordinator for the national resource team at UAMS, served as the host of the symposium. Discussions centered around state-of-the-art approaches and technology in the field as well as best business practices. Data collection methods, database searching methods and bioinformatics were also discussed.

Khatereh Motamed, senior manager of proteomics marketing for Thermo Fisher, spoke to the group about technological advancements in mass spectrometry, the primary instrumentation used in proteomics analysis.

“The study of proteins is at the core of nearly all cancer biology research and often serves as step one in the cancer therapy discovery process,” said Tackett, also a distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the UAMS College of Medicine and holder of the Scharlau Family Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at UAMS.

Cancer often occurs in the action or mis-action of proteins, activating cancer cells to promote tumor growth. Proteomics has supported the discovery of protein targets like HER2 in breast cancer which now has multiple treatment options available to patients.

Funded by a $10 million grant from NIGMS, the state-of-the-art program at UAMS initially focused on supporting investigators in the 23 IDeA states to help build research capacity in the historically underfunded areas. Today, the national resource at UAMS enables the research of thousands of NIH-supported researchers across the country, providing protein analysis and bioinformatics on an average of 10,000 samples each year.

“Our staff is one of the most skilled in the country in collecting, interpreting and analyzing complex biological data in support of developing new therapies for dozens of diseases including cancer,” said Tackett.

The national resource also serves as a shared resource for the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. In this role, the resource supports dozens of Winthrop P. Rockefeller cancer researchers for their studies focused on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The national resource will continue this supporting role as the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute seeks National Cancer Institute designation.

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