Today's Award Lecture: Catherine C. Fenselau

May 18, 2012

E-Separation Solutions

Catherine C. Fenselau, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Maryland, is the 2012 recipient of the Award for a Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry, granted by the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS). The award honors her pioneering work to apply mass spectrometry to the rapid identification and characterization of intact microorganisms.

Catherine C. Fenselau, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Maryland, is the 2012 recipient of the Award for a Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry, granted by the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS). The award honors her pioneering work to apply mass spectrometry to the rapid identification and characterization of intact microorganisms.

In 1975, Fenselau and J.P. Anhalt were the first to report that biomolecules from different pathogenic bacteria, introduced intact into a mass spectrometer, could be vaporized and directly ionized; could be structurally identified; and that the compositions and abundance of these chemical biomarkers, as revealed in mass spectra, allowed taxonomic distinctions. Fenselau’s pioneering approach of using intact molecular biomarkers for rapid microorganism characterization by mass spectrometry was in sharp contrast to concurrent research advocating vigorous pyrolysis before MS analysis.

In the following decade, Fenselau and her team were the first to evaluate newer ionization methods (such as laser desorption, plasma desorption, and fast atom bombardment) for the rapid MS analysis of nonvolatile biomarkers from intact bacterial cells. Further, her work in fingerprinting and in applying proteomic techniques for microorganisms laid the foundation for major developments in epidemiology to track and prevent disease from infectious diseases.

Currently, Fenselau is developing proteomic and bioinformatic strategies that allow rapid identification of bacteria, spores, protein toxins and viruses, with particular emphasis on characterization of genetically engineered bacteria, bacteria without sequenced genomes and bacteria in mixtures.

Hear Professor Fenselau’s award plenary talk today at 4:45 pm in Exhibit Hall A, on the exhibit level.

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