Distinguished Contribution

Award for a Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry recognizes a singular significant achievement.

2017 Recipient:  Catherine E. Costello


Dr. Catherine E. Costello is the recipient of the 2017 Award for a Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry for her pioneering contributions to the development of tandem mass spectrometry of glycans and glycoconjugates.

Glycans differ from proteins in that their biosynthesis derives from a series of enzymatic reactions in the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus and not from a template-driven process. Glycans, depending on class, may be branched, meaning that their structural determination requires determination of linkage positions and stereochemistry. The function of a glycan depends on the target to which it binds. A difference in a single monosaccharide linkage in a glycan alters the partners to which a glycan or glycoconjugate binds. For glycoproteins, the large number of proteoforms reflect glycan heterogeneity at each glycosylation site. Thus, the population of glycoprotein proteoforms present at any given place or time differ in their capacities to bind to partners that contain carbohydrate binding domains.  The complexity of glycan and glycoconjugate structures presents a severe analytical challenge to the field of glycomics.

Prof. Costello’s research has revolutionized glycomics by enabling comprehensive structural characterization of free glycans and glycoconjugates in a sensitive and high throughput fashion. In the 1980s she was among the first to recognize the potential of combining emerging soft ionization techniques with tandem mass spectrometry for characterization of glycans. Today, her 1988 publication defining the dissociation nomenclature for glycans remains highly cited.  Prof. Costello delineated the strategy of producing the greatest degree of structural detail on glycans in a single tandem mass spectrometry step. She recognized that while collisional dissociation provides useful information, its utility is limited by low abundances of key cross-ring cleavage product ions. She developed activated electron dissociation methods for glycans and glycoconjugates that are inherently more effective for producing cross-ring cleavages. This has included studies of dissociation mechanisms and influences of metal cationization.  Prof. Costello and her co-workers also pioneered Fourier Transform mass spectrometry of glycans and glycoconjugates with the application of electron based activation/dissociation methods and demonstrated these methods on a time scale compatible with on-line LC-tandem MS. Prof. Costello was the first to demonstrate top-down tandem MS analysis of intact glycoproteins. This is significant because most cell surface and secreted proteins are glycosylated and progress in biomedicine depends on the ability to characterize glycosylated proteoforms.

Prof. Costello’s research activities define the present state of the art in glycan and glycoconjugate tandem mass spectrometry. These achievements address the needs in biomedicine for high throughput sequencing of glycans and glycoconjugates and for top-down analysis of intact glycoproteins.

Dr. Catherine E. Costello is a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Cell Biology & Genomics, Department of Physiology & Biophysics, and Department of Chemistry, Boston University, Boston, MA.

Award Nominations

Nominations are due November 30.  Nomination Form (PDF fill-in form). The Award for a Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry recognizes a focused or singular achievement in fundamental or applied  mass  spectrometry, in  contrast  to  awards  that  recognize  lifetime  achievement. Eligibility  is restricted  to  members  of  ASMS. Nominations  will  be  held  for three years. The award is conferred at the ASMS Annual Conference with the presentation of a $10,000 cash award, a recognition plaque, and the award lecture.

Past Recipients

2016: Scott A. McLuckey
2015: Brian T. Chait
2014: Richard M. Caprioli
2013: Richard D. Smith
2012: Catherine C. Fenselau
2011: Robert J. Cotter
2010: Marvin L. Vestal
2009  Simon J. Gaskell and Vicki H. Wysocki
2008: Alexander Makarov
2007: Jesse L. (Jack) Beauchamp
2006: R. Graham Cooks
2005: James A. McCloskey
2004: Michael T. Bowers
2003: Fred McLafferty
2002: William Henzel, John Stults, Colin Watanabe
2001: George C. Stafford, Jr.
2000: Boris Aleksandrovich Mamyrin
1999: Melvin Comisarow and Alan G. Marshall
1998: David A. Dahl and Don C. McGilvery
1997: Franz Hillenkamp and Michael Karas
1996: Frank H. Field and Burnaby Munson
1995: Keith R. Jennings
1994: Donald F. Hunt
1993: Christie G. Enke and Richard Yost
1992: John B. Fenn
1991: Michael Barber
1990: Ronald D. Macfarlane