Reflecting on ABRF and Experimental Bio: Two Great Events!

This week was a busy and educational one for the Sage Science team — we got to attend both the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities meeting in St. Louis and the Experimental Biology meeting here in Boston. We had booths at both exhibit halls, and we thank the many scientists who stopped by to learn more about our newest products, SageELF for protein fractionation and the PippinHT high-throughput automated DNA size selection instrument.

ABRF is an event for technology lovers and always gives us a chance to hang out with the savvy scientists who run core labs, vet new instruments, and develop meticulous methods to keep experiments operating smoothly. Standards were in the spotlight this year: in one session, Sarah Munro from the National Institute of Standards and Technology gave a talk; her work for the External RNA Controls Consortium as well as the newer Genome in a Bottle consortium has been very impressive. In another session, members of the ABRF team that performed a valuable study of next-gen and third-gen sequencing platforms presented their findings. If you missed their paper, check it out here. We also enjoyed the talk from Vanderbilt’s Daniel Liebler, who spoke about proteomics and cancer and the need to understand protein interactions. His report that mRNA levels don’t accurately predict protein expression was intriguing, but it was sobering to hear him say that funding for proteomics — a field that will be critical for precision medicine and other clinical advances — has dwindled.

If you weren’t at ABRF, check out the poster we presented there: “The ELF preparative electrophoresis system for size-based proteome fractionation.” It shows data from an E. coli protein extract, using SageELF to automatically separate and collect 12 contiguous size fractions in a short period of time. The SageELF can be used for automated 1D gel fractionation of proteins to increase the sensitivity of peptide detection in complex mixtures; it’s a great alternative to labor-intensive SDS-PAGE gels.

While Sage staffers were living it up in St. Louis, those of us at the Experimental Biology conference were getting a crash course in the latest and greatest in biochemistry. We attended the meeting with particular interest in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), one of the groups represented at the conference.

The award lectures were truly fantastic. Jack Dixon from the University of California, San Diego, spoke about how novel kinases are involved in phosphorylating secreted proteins, and Kathleen Matthews from Rice University, who talked about protein biochemistry, earned appreciation from graduate students with her call for mentoring to improve research success. Some attendees told us that this year’s ASBMB program was one of the best ever. We just wish we’d had more time to absorb all of the great science in the extensive poster hall.

Now it’s back to the office, where we’ll be able to put everything we’ve learned to work!

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