Professor Matthias MANN
Winner of the 2012 Louis-Jeantet Prize for medicine



A German and Danish resident, Matthias MANN was born in 1959 in Lingen (Germany). He studied physics and mathematics at the University of Göttingen (Germany), and received his doctorate in chemical engineering from Yale University (United States), under the supervision of John B. Fenn, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. On his return to Europe in 1989, he first worked as a post-doctoral Fellow then as a Senior Scientist in the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, before joining the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, where he directed the Protein & Peptide Group. In 1998, he returned to Odense as a full Professor of Bioinformatics in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark. Since 2005, he has held the position of Director of the Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried (Germany). In 2007 he was additionally appointed as Director of the Department of Proteomics, at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Protein Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Matthias MANN has authored or co-authored more than 440 publications, making him one of the most highly cited researchers worldwide. A member of EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) and of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences, Matthias MANN has received numerous distinctions, particularly the Lundbeck and the Novo Nordisk Research Prizes, the Meyenburg Cancer Research Award, the Schelling and the Leibniz Prizes.

Mass spectrometry meets the proteome

After the genome comes the proteome. Having decrypted the genetic heritage of numerous species including humans, biologists are now aiming at characterizing the totality of the proteins in a cell or an organism. Technically, this is an extremely difficult task.
Matthias MANN progressively succeeded in overcoming the obstacles and turned mass spectrometry (an analysis technique already widely used for detecting and measuring the structure of molecules by measuring their mass) into a highly effective tool for characterizing the proteome.
With his colleagues, he managed to extract the proteins from the gel used by biologists to separate these molecules, but which previously rendered analysis via mass spectrometry impossible. He then miniaturized electrosprays, a technique used for ionizing molecules, and thus considerably enhanced the sensitivity of the analysis. Lastly he used mathematical algorithms to identify protein fragments by comparing them with those already listed in databases. Thanks to this work, biologists can now routinely use mass spectrometry for the study of proteins.
Matthias MANN then built on this progress to achieve another step forward by developing the new and highly accurate SILAC method (Stable Isotope Labelling by Amino Acid in Cell Culture). This technique, which characterises the functions of proteins, has opened the way to many applications of proteomics.

Wish to know more ?

Professor Matthias Mann

Director
Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction

Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry

Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried, Germany

Tel.: +49 (0)89 8578 2558 (PA) 2557 (direct)

 mmann@biochem.mpg.de

 http://www.biochem.mpg.de/mann/