I obsessively take notes. And then leave those notes in stupid places. Now, thanks to the power of the Cloud things my notes are on electronic devices and they're all linked all over the place, I lose them less rarely. My notes for ASMS are nuts. Like 50+ pages of things that look like that craziness to the right. I might not get through all of them in a year (it's happened before...) but here are my big takeaways from this year's mass spectrometry get together.
1) On the hardware side we might have finally gotten past the exponential growth phase in instrument performance. Yes -- for sure -- instruments are better this year. The Eclipse definitely deserves to be the Fusion 3. It's a step up. The 480 is the coolest benchtop Orbitrap we've ever seen. But -- the big advances aren't the introduction of the reflectron or cutting the diameter of the Orbitrap in half, they're primarily taking these pieces we have and putting them together more efficiently -- and -- this is big these days -- in making much much smarter instrument software!
I don't mean to insult any vendors by this. The MALDI on the TIMSTOF? That's sick. Imaging mass spectrometry got a big level up.
People seem excited about the cyclic ion mobility on the Waters instruments. I still don't understand the ramifications of this, but maybe if non-cyclic (?) ion mobility wasn't doing whatever it is that you use ion mobility for and there is some reason to believe this is the right technology to do it -- maybe you need cyclic.
But -- by far the biggest things I saw and heard were -- intelligent acquisition strategies and on the fly decision making and what really looks like the vendors taking feedback from the MS community about what craziness they need and helping them enable it.
2) TOP DOWN PROTEOMICS might really be a thing soon. There were posters everywhere. There is awesome new free user friendly software (MASH Explorer -- coming soon!?! -- haha! I'm a beta tester so I can use it.)
FLASHDeconv is available for download -- yo -- ever thought that Xtract was pretty good at deconvoluting things, but wished it was 1,000 times faster? Respect is pretty fast -- but it's got that weird duplication thing (it sometimes can't tell if your protein is 22kDa or 44kDa or 66kDa, cause, in the end the algebra cancels out the same in isotopically unresolved high charge spectra). FLASH is faster than Respect without the duplication stuff -- it operates in OpenMS -- so if you're already a user you've got the interface down!
3) The second party companies for hardware and software are getting increasingly sophisticated. There were multiple booths with ways to upgrade your existing hardware boxes. OmniTrap was there as well as the FTMSBooster and the crazy thing where the microscope time of flight and Q Exactive are connected and function in unison. Cool new sources and separations and 200cm nanoLC chips with low back pressure (with a new US side distribution partner)
4) You don't seem like a weirdo anymore if you talk about proteomics quality control! Everyone is doing quality control! Yes. QC is boring. QA is boring, but this intimidatingly bright next generation of mass spectrometrists I met everywhere are going to exceed what we've done here in every conceivable way and I'd almost think the majority have QC as a mandatory step in every experiment. I'm pumped.
Okay. I don't know if that worked. It's funnier to me if it didn't...."say hello...to the robots..."
Who isn't pumped to get automated?!?
Exploited people Postdocs and grad students are awesome and everything -- but they're way more awesome when they can use their brains with all that enviable neuroplasticity to come up with smart new ideas on how to do things and aren't doing dumb stuff that a robot can do better, like pipetting or tip based enrichment. There must have been 15 different robotics companies there looking to make mass spectrometry better! It's awesome that so much stuff exists now that is specifically designed for our applications.
6) PROSIT. PROSIT. PROSIT. I ran into a member of this team and he misguessed how many talks his team had. They had a ton. Because there is so much you can do with it.
7) There was another one I thought was critical, but I'm also very very tired for some reason....
More later, maybe, when I actually read some of these stupid notes!!
I'm already looking forward to the next ASMS (Houston?) but I'm pretty glad I get a year to recover.