Clint M. Alfaro wins ABC Best Paper Award

Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, May 2017

Nicola Oberbeckmann-Winter

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Clint M. Alfaro wins ABC Best Paper Award

Clint M. Alfaro wins ABC Best Paper Award Nicola Oberbeckmann-Winter 0 0 Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry , Springer, Tiergartenstrasse 17, 69121 Heidelberg , Germany - Clint M. Alfaro is a PhD candidate in analytical chemistry at Purdue University under the supervision of Henry B. Hass Distinguished Professor of Chemistry R. Graham Cooks. Clint was born January 26, 1992, and grew up in Winston-Salem, NC, USA. He graduated with honors and a B.S. in Biochemistry and Biology from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, in 2014. His current research focuses on applications of and method development in the rapid disease-state characterization of surgical biopsy specimens with ambient ionization MS. The ABC Best Paper Award 2016 for outstanding work published in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (ABC) goes to Clint M. Alfaro (25), who is author of the paper BAmbient ionization mass spectrometric analysis of human surgical specimens to distinguish renal cell carcinoma from healthy renal tissue,^ which describes molecular techniques—in particular, mass specthe technique is simple, rapid, and has demonstrated good performance in the present work and in a previous study with prostate cancer. The technique could be used by surgeons to test tissue for residual tumor, which is a primary concern when treating cancer surgically. The analysis of fresh renal tissue by touch spray–mass spectrometry represents a significant step towards integrating molecular measurements by ambient ionization mass spectrometry into a method for evaluating the amount of residual tumor left in a resection cavity. extracting information about patient prognosis and outcome that is hidden deep in the data and, in particular, correlating this with genetic information, which could significantly affect patient prognosis. After analyzing tissues from many more patients, especially in controlled clinical trials, who knows what other knowledge will be gained that can help to cure cancer? Which incident/discovery has proved most valuable for your own research? Ambient ionization mass spectrometry, one of the many great results from Prof. R. Graham Cooks, is the reason my PhD work has been possible. Which incident/discovery most inspired you during your education and scientific career? My PhD thesis focuses on molecular tissue diagnostics with ambient ionization mass spectrometry. The publication (Alfaro CM, Jarmusch AK, Pirro V et al. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2016;408:5407. doi:10.1007/s00216–016–9627-4) fits exactly into this work, and brings the goal of integrating mass spectrometry into surgery a step closer by showing that touch spray–mass spectrometry is amenable to fresh tissue analysis. How would you explain your research to children? Cancer is a disease that can take over the body and stop it from working correctly. If doctors catch the cancer early, they can stop it from taking over by cutting it out of the body. During surgery, it is sometimes difficult for doctors to tell whether something is cancer or normal just by looking at it. My research focuses on developing new tools that doctors can use during surgery to test whether tissue is cancer or normal. These new tools can help the doctor completely cut out the cancer, making the patients live longer and potentially curing them of the disease. What’s the trickiest problem you had to overcome in that research? How did you solve it? The trickiest problems have arisen from analytical chemists trying to perform clinical research in surgery. This problem could not have been solved without the keen cooperation of our clinical collaborators and their teams of research coordinators. This is especially true given that we have moved chemical analysis into the operating room. Where do you see your field headed, and how do you see it influencing bioanalytical research? I see the field moving closer and closer to directly affecting patient care. The most exciting prospect is the possibility of My personal discovery of the far-reaching capabilities of mass spectrometry for studying biological systems has been most inspiring. Which recent discovery might prove most valuable to the field of (bio)analytical research or beyond? Mini mass spectrometers coupled with ambient ionization for point of care diagnostics could revolutionize patient care. What was the best/worst advice you ever received? I have received great advice from my undergraduate advisor, Prof. Nadja Cech, who urged me to pursue graduate studies in mass spectrometry. I most admire my PhD advisor, Prof. R. Graham Cooks, for his tireless dedication to the field of mass spectrometry. He has made significant contributions to mass spectrometry, and it is amazing that he continues to lead successful projects in so many areas, ranging from fundamentals and instrumentation to chemical synthesis and clinical chemistry. What are your future plans? I plan to pursue a career as a chemistry research faculty member and translational scientist at a public university/medical school.


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Nicola Oberbeckmann-Winter. Clint M. Alfaro wins ABC Best Paper Award, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 2017, 4301-4302, DOI: 10.1007/s00216-017-0374-y