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Sought-after high-tech proteomics platform strengthens the basis for new discoveries

Important new discoveries and strengthened research in health science. That is the aim when researchers across the country will soon have access to a new highly advanced technological facility for mass spectrometry. The facility is situated at the University of Copenhagen and has successfully in attracted up to DKK 100m in funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Photo: University of Copenhagen.

In recent years, mass-spectrometric technology has been highly valuable for research in life sciences. In the field of protein research in particular, it has contributed to significant results. Mass spectrometry is an advanced analysis system that can weigh molecules with extremely high precision. By measuring all proteins at once, an approach called proteomics, t gives researchers unique insights into the human cellular and molecular mechanisms that control cell development for example and other biological or pathological activities.

The technology is revolutionary because scientists do not necessarily need advance knowledge of the samples they would like to analyze, which is why the technology is also called “discovery science” or “system science”, as it can illuminate novel areas rather than what researchers know and expect.

However, the technology is expensive and at present only available in a few places. Now, a new grant of up to DKK 100m from the Novo Nordisk Foundation has enabled a mass spectrometry facility to be established at the University of Copenhagen. The platform will be available to all academic and industrial researchers, with priority going to researchers from the Nordic countries.

“With the establishment of this new infrastructure, we are marking a new and exciting step in the field of protein research. This will be most important in future, not only in the context of the research but also in the clinic, in the development of personalized medicine for example.  We are delighted and proud of the unique opportunity to again strengthen access to high-tech research infrastructure at the University of Copenhagen,” says Dean Ulla Wewer.

Developing research in new directions
The new infrastructure is aimed mainly at research groups in the life science sector such as knowledge institutions, hospitals, biotech companies, the pharma industry and spin-offs. The grant is making it possible to invest in the latest and most advanced technology, which is otherwise only available in very few places worldwide.

The platform is called Proteomics Research Infrastructure (PRI) and is located at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. Here Prof Matthias Mann at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research has been using mass spectrometry for many years and has gained extensive international recognition. Researchers from the faculty will play a crucial role in the platform’s implementation and update through their extensive experience and expertise in the field.

“Mass spectrometry-based proteomics has already contributed to many discoveries in biology and biomedicine, but few have access to this advanced technology. With the new infrastructure, we hope to make this technology available to many more researchers so as to promote science in a whole range of different areas. We will also use the latest advances in bioinformatics, machine learning and deep learning to explore the results in the best way”, says Matthias Mann.

Birgitte Nauntofte, CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation says:

“In providing funding to set up this top-class facility, the Novo Nordisk Foundation wishes to support Danish protein research. Our goal is for the facility to be a leading technological platform that is internationally recognized, sought after and accessible to all researchers.”

The facility will officially open on 1 July 2020, when there will be trained personnel in mass- spectrometry and bioinformatics at hand, who can share their knowledge and help users with the technology. The funding comes from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Contact point:

Prof Michael Lund Nielsen: Mail: [email protected], T: (+45) 3532 5019.