On 24th October 2018, a hundred of the East Midlands leading proteomics scientists visited the University of Lincoln to attend this years proteomics workshop, EMPW2018. The workshop was sponsored by a range of leading suppliers of mass spectrometry and chromatography equipment and associated consumables, including Thermo and PharmFluidics, our gold sponsors, and Sciex and Bruker, our silver sponsors.
The EMPW meeting was in its 17th year, and exists to unite like-minded researchers from universities and companies across the East Midlands, including representatives from Birrmingham, Warwick, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield. This year's scientific programme was varied and of an exceptionally high standard, with both excellent oral presentations and over 30 detailed and cutting-edge scientific posters presented by early career researchers and established scientists alike.
The workshop kicked off with Alex von Kriegsheim (Edinburgh) presenting his work on the reversibility of hydroxylation, a post translational modification that initiates destruction of a key transcription factor, but which Alex demonstrated may be reversible using sophisticated pulsed isotopic labelling coupled to mass spectrometry. Emma Denham (Bath) gave a fantastic talk focusing on how shotgun proteomics could be used to dissect regulatory functions of mRNA interactions in bacteria, whilst Rian Griffiths (Birmingham) told the audience of the latest developments in liquid extraction of analytes from the surface of tissue sections for imaging approaches to proteomics.
Session 2 included talks by Mark Collins (Sheffield) on global analysis of S-acylation, of which palmitoylation is the most prominent example, of proteins by mass spectrometry, and by Sarah Hibbert (Manchester), who told us about her groups efforts to establish an accurate, curated and non-redundant database of protein present in skin using bio-informatics and proteomics. The Gold sponsor presentation (Thermo) was delivered by Holger Kramer (MRC) who presented his latest suite of bioinformatics tools to address the thorny issue of quality control in proteomics datasets.
After and excellent lunch and poster session, JBL Science's Andy Gill (Lincoln) presented his teams work on how combined proteomics, gene expression clustering, network analysis and functional assays are shedding light on the function of the prion protein during neurodegenerative diseases, whilst Francis O'Reilly (Berlin) gave an extremely impressive presentation of how the Rappsilber laboratory is using cross-linking and mass spectrometry to detect and characterise multi-meric protein complexes. Roz Banks (Leeds) then presented on her significant experience of the perils and pitfalls of moving beyond proteomics discovery of biomarkers to their application back at the clinic.
The final session showcased the Gold sponsor presentation of Robert van Ling (PharmaFluidics), detailing the development and applications of the new micro-column architecture of HPLC separation chips and the enhanced performance that results. This was followed by short talks, chosen from submitted abstracts, from Sarah Wagner (Nottingham Trent) and Rachel Norman (Leicester) talking about multi-omics approaches in biomarker discovery for prostate cancer and molecularly imprinted polymers respectively. Rachel's talk outlined a particularly innovative approach that uses polymeric species to mould to the shape of proteins as an alternative to antibodies for biomarker capture and quantification.
Closing the workshop was Paul Skipp (Southampton) who presented a phenomenal discussion of why (and how) one should consider the entirity of your proteomics data instead of applying the typical, reductionist strategy of focusing on significant changes in protein expression. This is an approach used by the transcriptomics community for a while and seems likely to make a step change in proteomics data interpretation.
Next year the meeting will be moving to a new host - watch the EMPW website here for more details or to see previous years programmes.
As well as the sponsors listed above, the event was also supported by Waters, Li-Cor, Merck, VWR/Hichrom, Thistle Scientific and, of course, JBL Science, for which we remain eternally grateful.