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Last modified: Monday, November 5, 2012

Center of Innovation recognizes discoveries of IU Bloomington chemist Clemmer

Nov. 5, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A symposium this week at Indiana University will mark the establishment of a Waters Corp. Center of Innovation recognizing the work of IU Bloomington chemist David Clemmer in inventing and developing ion mobility mass spectrometry, a key technology for biochemical analysis.

The symposium, "Advancements in High Resolution Mass Spectrometry for Biomolecular Characterization," will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, at Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union. It will conclude with a ceremony at 4 p.m. celebrating the research of IU's Center for Biological Mass Spectrometry and the establishment of the Center of Innovation.

Clemmer, the Robert and Marjorie Mann Chair in Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, pioneered the development of ion mobility mass spectrometry in the 1990s and has continued to refine the approach through multiple generations. The technology, referred to as IMS-MS, combines ion mobilization spectrometry with time-of-flight mass spectrometry, resulting in fast, detailed analysis of the properties of complex proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and polymers.

The approach is proving invaluable in fields such as proteomics and metabolomics: for example, in identifying panels of biological markers that may be associated with cancer, heart disease, liver disease and other conditions.

The Waters Corp., a global, U.S.-based technology company and producer of sophisticated laboratory instruments capable of detecting, measuring and identifying minute concentrations of substances at the molecular level, has developed and commercialized the lab's discoveries. Establishment of the Center of Innovation will continue that relationship and provide IU researchers with access to state-of-the-art mass spectrometry instrumentation.

"The two mass spectrometers at the Waters Center of Innovation will not only accelerate pioneering and widely applicable life sciences research, but also enable Professor Clemmer's group to continue to develop the instrumentation technology," said IU Executive Vice President and Provost Lauren Robel. "Professor Clemmer has already distinguished himself as both a researcher and an innovator, and this exciting partnership with the Waters Corporation will further enhance his lab's capabilities to continue making breakthroughs in both areas. The Center of Innovation will also offer unparalleled learning opportunities for students working on and with these state-of-the-art instruments."

Clemmer attributed the lab's success to brilliant and supportive faculty colleagues, inventive and hard-working graduate students and inventive mechanical and electronics experts in the Department of Chemistry.

"It takes a special environment for technology to be developed, and that environment exists at Indiana University," he said. "We're positioned as one of the top places in the world to do this research."

Thursday's research symposium will include presentations by Perdita Barran of the University of Edinburgh, Kevin Giles of Waters Corp., Michael Gross of Washington University, Michael Przybylski of the University of Konstanz in Germany and Clemmer. Speakers at the 4 p.m. celebration will include Robel; Clemmer; David Giedroc, chair of the Department of Chemistry; Jorge Jose, IU vice president for research; Larry Singell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Tim Riley, Waters Corp. vice president; and John Gebler, general manager of Waters Centers of Innovation. A reception will follow.

Clemmer joins 19 other leading scientists recognized by the Waters Centers of Innovation program in the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Singapore, France, Sweden and India. He has received widespread recognition and numerous awards for his work, including the Sonneborn Award, IU Bloomington's top award for excellence in research and teaching, in 2009. He became a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011.