When Spectrometry bridges the gap between Proteomics and Biology

insights from industryBalyn ZaroAssistant ProfessorUniversity of California

In this episode of omg OMx, host Kate Stumpo engages in a riveting conversation with the Queen of Sample herself, Balyn Zaro. Join them as they discuss her experiences, groundbreaking research and her unique insights as a biologist by formation into the world of proteomics and spectrometry. Read selected highlights from the episode, or indulge in the complete episode below.

Balyn Zaro | omg OMx Podcast | Ep. 5

You are based in San Francisco, a hub that provides many opportunities. How does that influence your ability to be a good mentor and to be a good scientist?           

I love working in the Bay Area. That was one of the reasons that I wanted to come to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) because I feel like when I got to Stanford, there was this energy about the Bay Area where it felt like anything was possible. The person in front of you at a coffee shop might be the founder of the next big tech company or a fantastic biotech that has some new revolutionary treatment or diagnostic.

It is an awesome place for trainees to learn to be a scientist because of the strong relationship between industry, academia and venture capital. No matter what you want to do next, there is an opportunity here.

Proteomics, protein

Image credit: Shutterstock / Sergei Drozd

Have you had any ‘OMG’ moments in mass spectrometry?

My ‘OMG’ moment was probably when I made my first chemical probe and we treated cells with it, then looked to see what proteins were modified on a fluorescence gel. It was amazing to see something that I had physically made be incorporated into cells and give us information.

When I realized that we could prepare these samples in a way that would tell us about identity and how things were changing, that was super exciting. Being able to send my samples out to a mass spectrometry facility and get back a slew of information about what proteins we were modifying was super exciting.

What do you hope to see from PepSep and PreOmics for advancements in sample preparation technologies in the next 10 to 15 years?

PreOmics kits are amazing. They essentially let you miniprep mass spectrometry samples. If you can miniprep DNA, you can prep a mass spectrometry sample with a high-quality, clean sample.

They have done a great job of creating an accessible technique. I would love to see them miniaturize their sample prep so we can prep even less. Right now, we can inject 150 nanograms of a complex proteome and get back 5000 to 6000 protein IDs, but we have to prep about one microgram of protein to recover enough protein from doing a few replicates. I would love to see things get smaller, and I think it would probably just take miniaturizing some cartridges.

The PepSep columns have been a huge game-changer for us on the chromatography side. We run them at lower pressure because they are a little bit wider, but the separation is phenomenal. They are reasonably priced, and they last a long time. We replace the fluidics connectors, tubing, and emitters more often than our columns.

About the speaker

Balyn Zaro, Assistant Professor, University of California

omg OMx host: Kate Stumpo, Senior Market Manager at Bruker

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About Bruker Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry

Discover new ways to apply mass spectrometry to today’s most pressing analytical challenges. Innovations such as Trapped Ion Mobility (TIMS), smartbeam and scanning lasers for MALDI-MS Imaging that deliver true pixel fidelity, and eXtreme Resolution FTMS (XR) technology capable to reveal Isotopic Fine Structure (IFS) signatures are pushing scientific exploration to new heights. Bruker's mass spectrometry solutions enable scientists to make breakthrough discoveries and gain deeper insights.

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