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The Dawn of Proteomics

Frederick C. Neidhardt, F.G. Novy Distinguished University Professor, Emeritus, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School at Ann Arbor, authors a post at the Small Things Considered blog on the dawn of proteomics, the large-scale study of proteins, with a focus on their structures and functions.


"Around me at that time in Harvard University’s Department of Bacteriology and Immunology (now Microbiology and Molecular Genetics) were gifted individuals who on occasion were forced to purify proteins using laborious and personally onerous techniques. Not a life for me, I decided, even though H. Edwin Umbarger assured me that purifying an enzyme “developed character.”

Beside laziness, there was a second, more fundamental, reason I never purified a protein. Cell growth was the biological event that had hooked me as a graduate student, and work that began by smashing cells into little bits seemed inappropriate.

Nevertheless, within the next six years I would find myself absorbed in two major aspects of cell growth physiology that involved proteins, and these subjects would prove more intractable than the purification of proteins. Catabolite repression (or, more generally, how bacterial cells choose to utilize multiple carbon sources), and growth rate modulation (how bacterial cell size and composition are interrelated with growth rate) were two processes directly related to cell growth rate."

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