Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced that two leading scientists at the University of Michigan—Brandon Ruotolo and Kristina Hakansson—have received an Agilent Thought Leader Award in support of their research into understanding the structure and function of proteins and protein complexes via mass spectrometry.

Growing interest in developing protein-based therapeutics is driving the need for more rapid and informative analytical instrumentation, methods, and informatics.

Dr. Ruotolo is a professor of analytical chemistry and chemical biology, and Dr. Hakansson is a professor of chemistry. Both perform research at the university’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

A primary focus of their work is the development of techniques for more rapid and specific characterization of intact proteins and protein complexes, including various modes of chemical modification, new fragmentation approaches, and ion mobility mass spectrometry—a technology that can determine the composition, size, and topological organization of protein assemblies from a small amount of sample.

The award provides three years of financial assistance along with Agilent instrumentation for ion mobility mass spectrometry, high-performance liquid chromatography, and sample preparation and introduction. Additionally, on-going collaboration and support from Agilent experts is offered to accelerate the research.

"Partnering with leading researchers in mass spectrometry-based protein characterization will enable Agilent to more rapidly evaluate and commercialize new bioanalytical technologies and solutions," stated Monty Benefiel, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Mass Spectrometry Division. "Together, we will advance understanding, technologies, techniques, and solutions in this dynamic space."

Professor Ruotolo shared, "I'm both humbled and honored by this award from Agilent Technologies. Furthermore, I am excited to deepen our collaborative relationship, as well as with the Hakansson lab. My hope is that Agilent's generosity today precipitates a long-term partnership between UM and Agilent in the area of chemical measurement science, allowing us to push forward and develop exciting new technologies that represent the forefront of this area together."

Professor Hakansson agreed: "I'm thrilled to receive this opportunity to further push our electron-based structural characterization methods on a new instrument platform and to formalize our existing collaboration with the Ruotolo laboratory. We have complementary expertise in areas of interest to Agilent, and there is great synergy between our research groups - it will be very exciting to continue in this direction."

Ruotolo and Hakansson will be collaborating with several biopharmaceutical industry scientists to help ensure their research targets current protein characterization challenges of high importance, and to provide opportunities for evaluation and optimization of new approaches.

The Agilent Thought Leader Award promotes fundamental scientific advances by contributing financial support, products, and expertise to the research of influential thought leaders in the life sciences, diagnostics, and chemical analysis space. Information about previous award recipients is available at Agilent's Thought Leader website.