Ralph N. Adams Award in Bioanalytical Chemistry

February 26, 2007

E-Separation Solutions

The 2007 Ralph N. Adams Award in Bioanalytical Chemistry was presented to Norman J. Dovichi, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Washington, on Monday afternoon at Pittcon 2007.

Ralph N. Adams AwardThe 2007 Ralph N. Adams Award in Bioanalytical Chemistry was presented to Norman J. Dovichi, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Washington, on Monday afternoon at Pittcon 2007. The award, which is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Conference and Friends of Ralph N. Adams, was presented to Dovichi by Kevin J. McKaveney, the Immediate Former President of the Pittsburgh Conference. The award was established to honor an outstanding scientist who has advanced the field of bioanalytical chemistry through innovation, research, and education.

Dovichi’s 20-member research group focuses on ultrasensitive bioanalysis, measuring attomoles to yoctomoles of analyte. The primary instrumentation developed by his group is based on capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence detection. Other instrumentation measures thermo-optical absorbance, light scattering, and refractive index values. The group is beginning to use mass spectrometry for protein analysis as well. Typical analytes include biopolymers such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids along with low molecular weight bioamines and drug metabolites.

Dovichi has received numerous honors for his work, including the Chemical Instrumentation Award and the Spectrochemical Analysis Award from the American Chemical Society. He has also received the McBryde, Noranda, and Fisher Awards from the Canadian Institute of Chemistry as well as the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award for Analytical Chemistry. Dovichi has also been recognized for his work on the Human Genome Project.

In an interesting and entertaining award address, Dovichi spoke about his group’s efforts in chemical cytometry. He described the group’s primary instrumental approach, capillary electrophoresis, as “an exquisite technique for separating biological molecules.” Their current focus involves the analysis of single mammalian cells that typically have a diameter of 10 micrometers, contain 75 pg of protein (2 fmol total protein), and have a volume of 500 fL. He noted that individual cells of the same type can contain very different amounts of the various proteins.

The analysis technique involves selecting a cell, aspirating it into the capillary, lysing it with SDS, labeling the cell contents with a fluorescent tag (3-[2-furoyl]quinolone-2-carboxaldehyde, or FQ), and analyzing the labeled cell proteins via capillary electrophoresis. Detection is performed using laser-induced fluorescence with an argon laser. Applications include cancer prognosis, stem cell analysis, developmental biology, and metabolism research. Limitations are the need for improved separation and component identification. The group plans to overcome the latter limitation by interfacing the technique with mass spectrometry detection.

Dovichi expressed his love for the outdoors by using photos of various scenic Olympic Peninsula locations as transition slides between segments of his presentation.