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Session: Lifetime Achievement Award Session, time: 11:10 am - 12:00 pm

Adventures in the Garden of Proteomics


Catherine E. Costello
Boston Univ. School of Medicine, Boston, MA

The seeds for Proteomics were planted by insightful scientists who first noted that biopolymers were abundant in all living tissues, both within and outside the cell, and that they displayed changes during development, disease and ageing. The discoveries of the genetic code and its translation into proteins focused attention on the necessity for development of efficient methods for determining the sequences of these polymers, and relating their details to functions and interactions. The Human Genome project greatly accelerated the pace at which genes can be sequenced, and recent progress has starkly reduced the cost. Gene sequences provide the roots for formulating an understanding of the potential for life processes, but the actions depend on proteins that thus form the trunks and stems and post-translational modifications that regulate the flowering. I was lucky to have an early opportunity to rub my toes in the garden’s soil and have been happy to be engaged with tending the garden over the course of my career. We’ve generated better hoes and pruning forks now, and have more opportunities to differentiate and share familiarity with our flowers. HUPO, at national and international levels, and the Human Proteome Project in particular, are the master gardeners, and mass spectrometry is our most useful tool, but it needs the support of other analytical and biophysical approaches, and the constant infusion of new bioniformatic fertilizers. This lecture will include some bits on past escapades but focus on recent adventures in the garden, with the intent to convey examples and insights that boost the enthusiasm of present and future farmers.

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