Earlier this year, the LMB was pleased to appoint Catarina Franco as Head of the LMB’s Mass Spectrometry Facility, an integral scientific support service to the laboratory.
The LMB’s Mass Spectrometry Facility implement state-of-the-art mass spectrometric techniques to provide scientists with the capabilities to identify, characterise and quantify proteins present in a particular network, pathway, organelle, cell, or tissue. They principally employ electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry for both qualitative and quantitative characterisation of proteins. The basic approach for protein analysis is ‘bottom-up’ proteomics, where proteins are initially enzymatically digested with proteases producing a peptide pool representative of the original proteins.
The group undertakes independent research to develop and implement new mass spectrometry-based methods and they collaborate with LMB groups and apply these bespoke approaches to answer important biological questions.
Catarina has worked in mass spectrometry and proteomics for over 19 years. She completed a BS in Biochemistry at the University of Évora, Portugal, then pursued a PhD at the New University of Lisbon, Portugal, where she used proteomics to investigate which cellular pathways regulate the outstanding ability for tissue regeneration in starfish. Mass spectrometry-based proteomics showed that regeneration events were being timely regulated by complex protein posttranslational modification events.
Catarina was a visiting scientist at the Proteome Exploration Laboratory in the Beckman Institute, Caltech, US, where she explored the regeneration impact on the nervous system proteome of the first starfish to have its genome sequenced. She moved to the Centre for Proteome Research at the University of Liverpool, before arriving in Cambridge in 2019 to establish the Proteomics Facility (Mass4Tox) at the MRC Toxicology Unit, University of Cambridge.
Catarina commented: “In 2023, a special new adventure has begun as I have joined the LMB as the new Head of Biological Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics. It is with a head full of ideas and a room full of Mass Spectrometry ‘toys’ that I will help the LMB achieve the fruition of their mass spectrometry/proteomics projects.”