Monday, 2022/10/31, 17:00
Bio Prof. Dr. Ron M. A. Heeren obtained a PhD degree in technical physics in 1992 at the University of Amsterdam on plasma-surface interactions. He was the research group leader at FOM-AMOLF for macromolecular ion physics and biomolecular imaging mass spectrometry in the period 1995-2015. In 2001 he was appointed professor at the chemistry faculty of Utrecht University lecturing on the physical aspects of biomolecular mass spectrometry and later became part of the Netherlands Proteomics Center. In 2014 he was appointed as distinguished professor and Limburg Chair at Maastricht University. He is scientific director of M4I, the Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging institute on the Brightlands Maastricht Health campus. There, he heads the division of imaging MS. Currently he serves as the chair of the NWO research community “advanced methods, instrumentation and data analysis” for the life sciences. He was awarded the prestigious 2019 Physics Valorization prize by the Dutch organization for scientific Research, NWO and the 2020 Thomson medal of the international mass spectrometry foundation. In 2021 he was elected as a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, KNAW. His academic research interests are mass spectrometry based personalized medicine, translational molecular imaging and “omics” research, high-throughput bioinformatics and the development and validation of new mass spectrometry based molecular imaging techniques for the life sciences. He is actively involved in the development of molecular imaging education, instrumentation engineering and the improvement of the Dutch national large scale research infrastructure.
Abstract Modern molecular analytical technologies in the “omics” arena plays a crucial role in many scientific disciplines ranging from material sciences to clinical diagnostics. Molecular pathology is no different. Technological advances have increased methodological sensitivity allowing researchers to acquire molecular information of smaller and smaller samples. The biggest challenge is to put that concerted information in the context of the problem the samples originate from. This lecture describes how innovative molecular imaging technologies, based on mass spectrometry and “omics” innovations have impacted translational clinical research. Or: how a mass spectrometer can be used as a sensitive and selective molecular microscope. Innovative imaging technologies now offer new insights in life’s complexity that can be employed for precision medicine, the understanding of new (bio)materials and the processes that happen on the interface of living and ‘dead’ matter. Innovations in mass spectrometry based chemical microscopes have now firmly established themselves in translational molecular research. One key aspect of translational success is the ability to obtain this molecular information on thousands of molecules on a process relevant timescale. Modern mass microscopes can now rapidly acquire images of metabolites, lipids, polymers, peptides and proteins, depending on the spatial resolution chosen. Single cells can be metabolically analyzed in the context of their native tissue. Combined this offers a truly precision multi-omics approach that reveals contextual molecular complexity in biological and material environments.