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Mass spectrometry: From ribosomes to receptors

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  • UserProfessor Dame Carol Robinson DBE FRS FMedSci
  • ClockTuesday 16 March 2021, 18:00-19:30
  • HouseGoogle Meets.

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Discovered in Cambridge in the 1940’s, mass spectrometry has its origins in the separation of isotopes. Dramatic transformations in the early 1990’s enabled mass spectrometry to be applied to peptides and proteins from electrosprayed bubbles. This approach is now the mainstay of proteomics. Another avenue of research, much less explored, was prompted by experimental observations that macromolecular complexes could survive the phase transition, from solution to the vacuum inside the mass spectrometer. However, this research was not without controversy. How were protein complexes that exist in solution captured in the gas phase? Over the years I have focussed my research on this question. From the mass spectra of intact ribosomes to the intricacies of receptor coupling I will show how mass spectrometry has come of age for structural biology.

Speaker profile:

Professor Dame Carol Robinson holds the Chair of Dr. Lee’s Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on using mass spectrometry to study the 3D structure of proteins and their complexes. Prof Robinson completed her graduate education while working full-time in industry. She was subsequently admitted to the University of Cambridge where she completed her PhD in two years. Following an eight-year career break to begin raising her three children, she returned to research at Oxford. In 2001, she became the first female Professor in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, returning to Oxford in 2009 to take up the Chair of Dr. Lee’s Professor of Chemistry. Her research has attracted numerous international awards and prizes, the most recent ones including: The Royal Medal ‘A’ from the Royal Society, the Stein & Moore Award from the Protein Society, the 2019 Novozymes Prize from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Field & Franklin Award from the American Chemical Society. Prof Robinson was elected as a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2017 and is a past President of the Royal Society of Chemistry. For her contribution to science and industry, Dame Carol was awarded the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours.

This talk is part of the SciSoc – Cambridge University Scientific Society series.

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