Research fellowship

Emeline Hanozin, researcher at the MolSys research unit, has been awarded a BAEF fellowship for a post-doctoral stay at UC Berkeley



Emeline Hanozin, a researcher at the Laboratory of Inorganic Analytical Chemistry (MolSys Research Unit / Faculty of Science) at ULiège, will pursue a one-year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley thanks to a grant from the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF). His research, in the field of analytical and physical chemistry, consists of developing efficient analytical methods capable of processing large biomolecular assemblies from complex biological environments.

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meline Hanozin main research interests are fundamental aspects of analytical and physical chemistry and how these can be used to interrogate specific properties of biological samples in view of enhancing our comprehension of Nature. More precisely, my work relies on the synergic combination of two orthogonal analytical tools operating in the gas phase: ion mobility (IM) and mass spectrometry (MS). Because of high sensitivity, selectivity and versatility, the direct hyphenation of IM with MS is now becoming an increasingly popular analytical tool to determine structural properties of biomolecules and to analyse complex matrices samples.

Many molecular assemblies that play vital roles in cellular functions and diseases, such as lipoproteins, viruses, nanoparticles, and organelles have masses that are currently difficult to access with regular MS experiments. Today, IM-MS technology essentially allows to characterize sample with a molecular weight distribution below 1 megadalton (MDa), so that the analysis of large analytes beyond this limit remains one of the biggest challenges in the field. Indeed, such large species typically carry a high number of charges which results in unresolved peaks in the MS spectrum. Added to sample heterogeneity, this leads to complex m/z distributions and prevents accurate determination of the mass m and CCS of the analytes. Overcoming this challenge is still crucial in a context where the clinical and biopharmaceutical actors are highly solicited and campaign for efficient analytical methods able to deal with large biomolecular assemblies originating from complex biological media.

The general objective of Emeline’s project consists in setting up a new MS multiplexing individual ion method that could be operated in standalone at a high throughput. Our strategy capitalizes on Fourier transform charge-detection mass spectrometry (FT-CDMS) to directly and simultaneously measure the charge z, the m/z ratio as well as a mobility-related quantity of complex mixtures of large biomolecular ions with a very high level of confidence.

UC Berkeley

In this project, she will continue the work already initiated in the Laboratory of Prof. Evan R. Williams (University of California Berkeley) and construct the next generation CDMS instrument capable of measuring a mass histogram for MDa-sized molecules on a very short timescale (~1 min to analyse 10 000 individual ions).

This project opens new perspectives for the MS community by overcoming current limits of regular IM-MS instrumentations making it possible to analyse large biomolecular systems in an unprecedented size range. In the future, FT-CDMS could be used for in situ experiments and for direct analysis of patient breath samples to detect intact viruses that would be characterized according to their z, m/z, m, fragmentation pattern and CCS in a short experiment timescale. This new generation of CDMS instruments therefore offers huge potentials for human health studies and high throughput analyses.

The laboratory of Prof. Evan R. Williams at UC Berkeley is at the forefront of fundamental mass spectrometry researches and hosts state-of-the-art instrumentation resulting from in-house developments. With its recent advances in FT-CDMS, it makes an ideal and valuable environment to perform my postdoctoral research stay in the U.S.A.

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