Annual ASMS Conference Maintains its Appeal

May 1, 2006

The 54th ASMS Conference will offer a comprehensive look at mass spectrometry and will attract a bigger crowd than in past years.

The American Society for Mass Spectrometry will be hosting its 54th Conference on Mass Spectrometry from May 28 to June 1 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington.

The Washington State Convention and Trade Center (Seattle, Washington) will host the annual ASMS conference this year.

This is an important and exciting event for ASMS members — composed of more than 5500 scientists involved in research and development in academic, industrial, and governmental laboratories. The conference provides a platform to present and learn about advances in mass spectrometry methods and instrumentation, as well as fundamental research in scientific fields such as forensics, chemistry, geology, the biological sciences, and physics.

Mass spectrometry has applications as diverse as determining the composition of molecules found in space, detecting toxins in contaminated fish, and monitoring the use of performance-enhancing drugs in athletics, and new developments improve the technique continuously. The conference will showcase the breadth and depth of this technology, and will attract more attendees this year.

"I believe the turnout will be larger this year than last, as we had a ten percent growth in the number of abstracts submitted," says Barbara Larsen, ASMS vice president for programs and member of Spectroscopy's editorial advisory board. While it is always difficult to predict what the hot topic for the meeting will be, she says "Our short courses are always very popular...lectures are always well attended."

Short Courses

The 2006 annual conference will feature the same 11 short courses that were included in last year's conference. Short courses will be held on Saturday and Sunday before the start of the conference at 5 pm on Sunday. Here is a brief outline of this year's courses:

Drug Discovery Using Mass Spectrometry: From Target Identification to IND Enabling Studies. This short course will provide a solid understanding of the drug discovery process, all the way from initial target identification to investigational new drug enabling studies. Instructors Daniel B. Kassel and Mike S. Lee also will help attendees learn and apply the various types of mass spectrometry studies carried out to support drug discovery efforts.

FT-MS: Principles and Applications. Some of the topics that this course will cover are the basic theory of ion motion in the Fourier transform-mass spectrometry (FT-MS) analyzer; the principles of ion excitation and detection; and Fourier signal analysis. The course, taught by Robert T. McIver, Jon Amster, Carlito Lebrilla, and Roman Zubarev, is designed for those who do not have prior knowledge of FT-MS. It also will be useful for people who have some FT-MS experience but want to develop a better understanding of the technique's fundamental principles.

Interpretation of Mass Spectra. This is an introductory course on the qualitative interpretation of the mass spectra of organic, biological, and biochemical compounds. Lawrence R. Phillips, John H. Callahan, Peter Dreifus, James Kelley, and Amina Woods will teach through the use of practical examples. The course will target those individuals with knowledge of organic chemistry and organic structures, and will emphasize the interpretation of electron ionization mass spectra.

LC–MS: The Techniques of Electrospray, APCI, and APPI. Robert D. Voykshner will instruct this course, designed for the chromatographer/mass spectrometrist who wants to be successful in solving problems using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS). The course will cover the atmospheric pressure ionization techniques of electrospray, pneumatically assisted electrospray, atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI), and atmospheric pressure photo ionization (APPI) using single quadrupole, triple quadrupole, time-of-flight, and ion trap mass analyzers.

LC–MS Technology: Fundamentals and Applications of High Resolution/Accurate Mass in Pharmaceutical Analysis. This course, offered for the first time last year, is designed to teach attendees the utility, advantages, and limitations of conducting LC–MSn analysis using high-resolution MS. Instructors Richard M. LeLacheur and Ragu Ramanathan will develop the fundamental concept of high resolution and techniques for accurate mass measurement and mass calibration.

LC–MS: Practical Aspects. In this practical course, Jack Henion will cover commercially available and new approaches to accomplishing on-line LC–MS analyses. The course will progress from an introduction to HPLC and MS to an introduction to themes common to all LC–MS interfaces. After the introductory lectures, Henion will present more advanced lectures on APCI and electrospray along with representative applications for small and large molecules.

MALDI-TOF MS: Fundamentals and Applications. This course, taught by Martha M. Vestling and Kevin G. Owens, will give an overview of the current instrumentation and practice of matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization time-of-flight spectrometry. It also will include a discussion of the relative advantages of linear and relectron instruments; the effects of laser parameters; use of delayed extraction; choice of detector; and in-source and postsource decay on the observed mass spectrum.

MS-MS: Fundamentals and Applications. Instructors Vicki Wysocki, Arpad Somogyi, George Tsaprailis, and Linda Breci will provide an introduction to popular MS-MS instrument types. The course will provide a description of ion activation methods, comparison of energy deposition mechanisms and observation times associated with popular instruments, selected examples of MS-MS applications, and spectral interpretation of MS-MS spectra of even electron ions produced by soft ionization methods.

Mass Spectrometry of Peptides and Proteins. Designed for scientists who have hands-on experience in mass spectrometry and/or protein chemistry and want to learn specific techniques for the MS and MS-MS characterization of peptides and proteins, including proteomics. During the course, Arthur Moseley, Kevin Blackburn, and Doug Sheeley will address the fundamental aspects of protein chemistry, sample preparation, mass spectrometry, and sample introduction systems.

Quadrupole Ion Trap Mass Spectrometry. This course will focus on the ion physics, ion chemistry, and aspects of instrumentation necessary for a basic understanding of modern quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometry. It will cover conventional 3D quadrupole ion trap operation as well as newer linear ion traps. The instructors, Gary L. Glish, Richard Vachet, and Nathan Yates, will discuss applications of ion traps to areas such as peptide sequencing and quantification.

Quantitative Mass Spectrometry. This introductory/intermediate level course will cover the principles of quantitative mass spectrometry. Instructors Cecilia Basic, Robert Bethem, and Dwight E. Matthews will reinforce the general discussion of principles through group discussions of papers in the field.


Lisa Randall, a Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts) physicist, will be presenting the initial plenary lecture on Monday, May 29. Randall, said to be today's most cited theoretical physicist, is the author of Warped Passages: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions, a book on the hidden dimensions of the universe, which was released in September 2005. Her talk has the same title as her book.

Randall received the Ph.D. degree in particle physics from Harvard in 1987. She has held fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, California), and professorships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts), and Princeton University (Princeton New Jersey), before she became a professor of physics at Harvard.

Diane Evans, the director for Earth Science and Technology at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, CA), will give the closing lecture, "Exploring Earth" on Thursday, June 1. She holds the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in geological sciences from the University of Washington (Seattle, Washington).