Summer School "Mass spectrometry meets systems medicine"

As part of the BMBF-funded MSCoreSys Initiative, the first Summer School entitled "Mass spectrometry meets systems medicine" took place in Bad Dürkheim at the end of September 2021.
The MSCoreSys Initiative supports four local research cores in Berlin, Heidelberg, Mainz and Munich. MSCoreSys aims to develop and standardize mass spectrometric analyses for systems medicine approaches. This year, the Summer School was organized and hosted by the Mainz research core DIASyM.. Directly thereafter, the annual status meeting for scientific exchange and networking activities between the research cores took place with the participation of numerous project leaders and scientific staff. Due to the prevailing pandemic situation, the Summer School and the status meeting were the first face-to-face meetings since the start of the initiative in spring 2020.

The MSCoreSys initiative focuses on systems medicine research approaches, since the development and course of many diseases are not primarily influenced by single factors, but by a variety of different ones. In many diseases genetic predisposition, lifestyle or certain environmental influence impact pathophysiological processes. In addition, these factors may influence the body’s metabolism and could thus lead to (pathological) changes in the proteome, metabolome or lipidome. The advent of technical advances in the field of mass spectrometry nowadays allow the analysis of large sample sets in a high-throughput automated and standardized manner. The resulting large data sets are comprised of proteomics, metabolomics and lipidomics and can be combined with additional information from e.g. genomics and clinical data sets available from biobanks. Once compiled these multi-omics data sets allow to map the interplay of different systems and, thus, to better understand their individual influence on disease development and progression. It is evident that the processing as well as the integration of these large data sets requires the close collaboration of scientists from various fields, including mass spectrometry, chemistry, medicine as well as (bio-)informatics.

During the Summer School, group leaders of the MSCoreSys Initiative introduced aspects of sample preparation, mass spectrometric measurements, and data analysis in six basic lectures. After the theoretical introduction, participants had the opportunity to deepen and to practice introduced tools and knowledge during several workshops.
In addition, the keynote lecture by Kirsten Leineweber, Head of Systems Medicine at Bayer AG, provided expert insights into the relevance of systems medicine issues from the perspective of the pharmaceutical industry. Lennart Martens, Professor of Systems Biology in the Department of Biomolecular Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, gave a fascinating presentation on current developments and challenges in bioinformatics analysis of proteomics data.

Connie Jimenez, Professor of "Translational OncoProteomics" in the Department of Medical Oncology at VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, provided Summer School participants with a detailed insight into the methods used to analyze protein signaling in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as the development of biomarker/target candidates and innovative phosphoproteomics approaches for personalized medicine in her keynote lecture.
The program was complemented by poster sessions in the evenings, which were intensively used by both students and speakers for lively scientific exchange.

In summary, the Summer School of the MSCoreSys Initiative was a great success. Young scientists from the four research cores were able to expand their networks, exchange their expertise and initiate new collaborations. Furthermore, they deepened their knowledge at the interface between mass spectrometry and systems medicine. They trained to present their research projects in a comprehensible way and to discuss them scientifically. Due to the positive feedback, it is planned to implement further events during the funding period.