On January 4th, 2019, Dr. Alexander A. Makarov, Director of Research at Thermo Fisher Scientific (Bremen, Germany), presented his talk “Past, present and future of Orbitrap mass spectrometry” at Northeastern University. The event was organized and hosted by Professor Alexander R. Ivanov (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and the Barnett Institute), as a part of Northeastern’s Distinguished Lecture Series of the Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis. The lecture was heldat Northeastern’s Raytheon Amphitheater, Egan Research Center, Boston, MA.
The purpose of the Barnett Institute Distinguished Lecture Series is to bring eminent world-class scientists to Northeastern University and the Greater Boston community. Dr. Makarov’s presentation covered the history and future of the mass analyzer technology, Orbitrap mass spectrometry. Orbitrap is currently considered the leading state-of-the-art mass analyzer technique for high-resolution, high mass accuracy quantitative mass spectrometry analysis. The Orbitrap technology is broadly used by academic and industrial researchers in various biomedical applications. The Barnett Institute’s event that featured Alexander Makarov’s talk brought in a crowd that packed the entirety of the Raytheon Amphitheater at the Egan Research Center; in attendance was over 120 mass spectrometry enthusiasts representing biotechnological, biopharmaceutical and instrument development industries, academia, and investors. Dr. Makarov spent his day at Northeastern meeting with faculty members and users of the Orbitrap technology he invented.
Dr. Makarov earned his Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematics from the Moscow Physics-Engineering institute in 1992. His dissertation covered the “Quasi-isochronous motion of charged particles in static electromagnetic fields”. Today, Dr. Makarov is a renowned scientist distinguished for his research in the field of mass spectrometry. His development of the Orbitrap technology has been recognized by highly prestigious awards from the Russian Mass Spectrometry Society, the International Society for Mass Spectrometry, and the American Society for Mass Spectrometry.
Dr. Makarov found his initial footing in mass spectrometry at a small start-up company, HD Technologies
(Manchester, UK). Eventually, the firm was acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific where Dr. Makarov became an integral part of the research and development team for scientific instruments. In 2005, under Dr. Makarov leadership, Thermo Fisher released the LTQ Orbitrap mass spectrometer. The Orbitrap acts as a mass analyzer and a detector of ions, usinga specific configuration involving two outer electrodes and a central electrode. The ions are electrostatically “trapped” by the electrodes; the ions are then separated based on their differing oscillation frequencies, which allows the instrument ‘to read out’ mass-to-charge ratios (“m/z”) of ionized molecules of various nature. This technology is unparalleled in its ability to produce high-resolutionmass measurements.
Orbitrap’s potential to facilitate ground-breaking discoveries in proteomics and metabolomics was discussed and commended. The Barnett Institute Research Lecture Series granted Northeastern students, faculty, and the Greater Boston area the opportunity to hear Dr. Makarov’s explanation of his work firsthand.