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Report on the 9th Mass Spectrometry in Biotechnology and Medicine Summer School

04/29/2016 21:51:34

The 9th Mass Spectrometry in Biotechnology and Medicine (MSBM) Summer School was held July 5-11, 2015 at the Center for Advanced Academic Studies (CAAS) in Dubrovnik, Croatia (  The CAAS is a University of Zagreb facility combining a dormitory with lecture halls that sits just outside the city walls of Dubrovnik. The focus of MSMB was on teaching and discussing current best practices and knowledge in mass spectrometry to advanced graduate students, post-docs and industrial scientists in the areas of biochemistry, biology, molecular biology, biotechnology and medicine. The intent of the school is to bring together students, postdocs, faculty and others for an intensive week of classroom instruction on the use of mass spectrometry. Beyond the primary goal of instruction in mass spectrometry, one of the main aims is the mingling of faculty and participants to produce life-long relationships that foster advances in science.

The lecturers for the 2015 school included the organizing committee (OC): Laura Bindila (Germany), Garry Corthals (The Netherlands), David Goodlett (USA), Ron Heeren (The Netherlands), Ljiljana Pasa-Tolić (USA), Jasna Peter-Katalinić (Croatia), Yury Tsybin (Switzerland), as well as invited lecturers including Jon Amster (USA), Julia Chamot-Rooke (France), Hubert Girault (Switzerland), David Kilgour (USA), Joe Loo (USA), Rachel Loo (USA), Hans Poolman (The Netherlands), Scott Shaffer (USA), Peter Schoenmakers (The Netherlands), and Roman Zubarev (Sweden).  While the OC has been quite stable during the last decade, the invited lecturers change from year to year.

Dubrovnik with Lokrum Island in the distance

MSBM IX participants and faculty in the CAAS courtyard

More than sixty participants from Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Guadeloupe, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US attended. The week kicked off on Sunday night with a special lecture given by Dr. Hans Poolman who reviewed the ins and outs of life as a scientist-entrepreneur.  His lecture was followed by a brief introduction of the faculty with each reviewing how they arrived at their current position in science.

Most of Monday and Tuesday were spent with the faculty providing didactic lectures to ensure the participants who were from disparate backgrounds, some never having even used a mass spectrometer, were on more equal footing when the time for research lectures arrived later in the week.  Topics for the didactic lectures included fundamentals such as theory of operation of mass analyzers, popular ionization methods, and methods used to fragment biological molecules.  These were supplemented by didactic lectures on liquid chromatography, bottom-up proteomics, phosphoproteomics, glycobiology, lipids and steroids, top-down proteomics, native mass spectrometry, and imaging mass spectrometry.

Fifty-five poster presentations were given on Monday night from which ten participants were selected for oral presentations on Tuesday.  These seven minute long research briefings gave select participants a chance to practice their English speaking skills and answer ad hoc questions.  The other intent of the participant presentations was to help acquaint participants and faculty early in the week to foster interactions.  Also on Monday, a written questionnaire was handed out that tested the student’s knowledge and the faculty’s ability to convey fundamental concepts like calculation of resolution, mass accuracy, de novo peptide sequencing and charge state derivation from mass spectra and tandem mass spectra of low and high resolution.  Tuesday and Thursday nights were set aside for working on the questionnaire with the faculty in the beautiful CAAS courtyard stimulated by pizza and beer.

On Wednesday morning all participants and faculty took a boat to Lokrum Island for a day long excursion.  Lokrum is the closest island to Dubrovnik’s city walls with monastery ruins most recently made popular as a site for filming the HBO series, Game of Thrones.  The island itself is forested and rocky overrun with peacocks accompanied by a constant drone of cicadas in July.  After enjoying a light take away lunch, some sunning and swimming, another tradition ensued - the annual volleyball game.  Amazingly, for only the second time ever, the faculty lost!  The day culminated back in Dubrovnik with a banquet prepared by the Cordon Bleu trained chef Marina Žibert of the Tovjerna Sesame.  The same chef made a wonderful lunch and breakfast each day from fresh local ingredients.

Thursday and Friday passed with mostly research lectures by the faculty and lectures by major sponsors Peak Scientific, JEOL and Sciex.  Other sponsors included Amsterdam Scientific Instruments, Deurion, and Spectroswiss.  The research lectures covered diverse topics from the use of mass spectrometry imaging to lipidomics, steroid analysis and glycobiology, and various aspects of proteomics.  Saturday morning brought the last few lectures and review of the exam.  Participants in the European Union who turned in the exam received credit at their home institutions.  Announced at the end of the last session at noon on Saturday was that there will be at least three more MSBM events:  MSBM X July 3-9, 2016, MSBM XI July 2-8, 2017 and MSBM XII July 8-14, 2018.

Registration is now open for MSBM X, the details of which may be found at, or simply write to

On behalf the Organizing Committee,

David R. Goodlett, Ph.D.
University of Maryland
Baltimore, MD, USA