Mass photometry community comes together in Oxford
Mass photometry has reached a new landmark, as the world’s first mass photometry-themed scientific meeting took place on June 14th at the University of Oxford.
The first Mass Photometry Symposium and User Meeting, held in June, created an opportunity for researchers with a common interest in mass photometry to come together – even if their fields are otherwise quite different. Around 50 participants representing 18 universities and companies joined Refeyn representatives on the day to talk histograms, calibration, socks with dots, and all other aspects of mass photometry.
Presentations, interactive sessions and informal chat
The day began with a welcome from Refeyn CEO Anthony Fernandez. Then, Refeyn co-founder and University of Oxford professor Philipp Kukura recounting the history of mass photometry, including the surprising role that a rickety table played in helping his team discover the robustness of the technology. Participants then presented their mass photometry-related research in talks and posters, with additional presentations from Refeyn. Illustrating the many ways mass photometry can be used, the researchers touched on the studies of macromolecular assemblies, SARS-CoV-2 spike protein-ACE2 receptor interactions, enzyme diffusion, and combining mass photometry with TIRF microscopy, among other things.
The afternoon was interactive, with time for small-group discussions on mass photometry applications and software, tours of the Kukura lab, and live demonstrations of the TwoMP instrument. Attendees had the chance to ask questions about the technology and discuss it with Refeyn experts and researchers who work on mass photometry in the groups of Professor Kukura and fellow co-founder, Professor Justin Benesch.
Most importantly, participants had the chance to share ideas and tips with one another. Attendees told us that getting to spend the day with other mass photometry users was one of the best things about the event.
“It’s very nice to be surrounded by so many people that are using the same technique,… and I’ve had some fantastic ideas about my project come up during some of the chats.”
Yulia Yancheva, PhD student, University of Groningen
Recognition for mass photometry researchers
Two researchers were recognised for their excellent presentations. Francesca Chandler, a PhD student from the University of Leeds, received a prize for her talk, “First-in-class deubiquitylase inhibitors reveal new enzyme conformations.” She has been using mass photometry to measure the stoichiometry of protein complexes and how they change in the presence of small molecules, and said:
"With mass photometry, we’ve been able to do titrations of small molecules to analyse exactly at which concentration we see a change in complex formation."
Francesca Chandler, PhD student, University of Leeds
Chandler has also used mass photometry to assess the purity of samples for cryo-EM, something she previously had done using negative stain EM. “Typically I can check the sample in one minute by mass photometry, whereas my negative stain would have probably taken a couple of hours and then a few more hours to process and analyse the quality of the sample.”
The poster prize went to Josh Bishop, a PhD student from the University of Oxford, for his poster, “Multidimensional Mass Photometry.” Bishop, whose work focuses on extracting information on the organisation and charge of proteins using mass photometry, explained what had attracted him to the technique.
“One thing that captured me and still captures me about mass photometry is the visual aspect… Straightaway you see what is happening – dynamically, in real time.”
Josh Bishop, PhD student, University of Oxford
Building a mass photometry community
Professor Benesch closed the meeting, inviting participants to join for an informal social in Oxford before returning home. He emphasised how important the mass photometry user community has been – first in taking a chance on the technology in its early days and now in continuing to find new, innovative ways to use it. He said he hoped this event had helped to further build that community, and that everyone would return next time.
The meeting was hosted and co-organised by the University of Oxford’s Kavli Institute for Nanoscience Discovery, where Professors Kukura and Benesch are based, and Refeyn. The meeting and demonstrations were held in the Kavli’s beautiful new Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Building.