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TAPs for Thermo Fisher
May 2013
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author


SAN JOSE, Calif.Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. has entered into a Technology Alliance Partner (TAP) agreement with scientists at the United Kingdom's University of Birmingham, with whom it will work to accelerate research in high-resolution accurate mass and triple quadrupole liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry for life-science applications.  
The partnership builds upon the University of Birmingham's Systems Science for Health initiative, which focuses on introducing a variety of life-science technologies into clinical research. It follows almost a decade of collaboration between the two organizations, and includes engaging in research, sharing samples and data that could lead to development of better techniques, exchanging ideas for improving instrument and software performance, ongoing conversations about current technology issues, promoting the training of graduate students and publishing new methodology and scientific advances.  
The alliance will focus on two research areas. In the first, metabolomics, the Thermo Fisher Scientific team will work with the laboratories of Prof. Mark Viant and Dr. Warwick Dunn to develop and test new hardware and software approaches for metabolite detection and identification for environmental and clinical research. In the second, proteomics, the company will work with Dr. Helen Cooper's lab to exploit high-resolution mass spectrometry and gas-phase ion chemistry for top-down and bottom-up analysis of proteins.  
"Top-down analysis uses MS/MS to analyze intact proteins," explains Martin Hornshaw, Thermo Fisher's European marketing manager of life-science mass spectrometry. This is, Hornshaw says, inherently a sensitivity issue. Bottom-up analysis involves digesting proteins into peptides, which are used as surrogates for the proteins and for which MS provides very sensitive analysis.  
"The University of Birmingham scientists share our drive to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer," says Iain Mylchreest, vice president, research and development at Thermo Fisher Scientific. "We look forward to a very productive collaboration with this innovative, creative group for advancing metabolomic and proteomic research."  
"We are excited to become Thermo Fisher Scientific's first Technology Alliance Partner within Europe," says Prof. Adam Tickell, the university's pro vice chancellor for research and knowledge transfer. "We anticipate that innovations from this research will translate directly into improved healthcare and environmental diagnostics. We are particularly excited by Thermo Fisher's commitment to supporting graduate research."  
Thermo Fisher Scientific's TAP program is an ongoing initiative to drive innovation through the sharing of ideas and expertise between a number of academic research laboratories and the company.  
"TAP is basically a mechanism to formalize a relationship with scientists who are our good customers," explains Hornshaw. "Maybe they want to build larger, better capabilities or access cutting edge technology. Maybe we want to beta test something new and their expertise is important to us. In general, we provide hardware, software and/or consumables. Projects are defined by the university scientists. An example might be measurements of the biomarkers of disease. Also, they are looking at the biomarkers of environmental damage detectable in microorganisms."
In the United States, Thermo Fisher Scientific has similar programs in place with the Barnett Institute at Northeastern University in Boston and scientists at Princeton University.  
"The University of Birmingham is our first European partner," Hornshaw notes, "and we are actively looking for others."
Code: E051311



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