Mass Spectrometry in the Life Sciences - CHEM 6320

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Instructor: Professor Akos Vertes
Office: Samson Hall 212
Telephone: (202) 994-2717

Course description: The course provides the basics in instrumentation and applications of mass spectrometry in life sciences with special emphasis on drug discovery, genomics and proteomics. Integration of mass spectrometric methods with the utilization of databases is extensively demonstrated. The students are expected to devise strategies for the exploration of biomolecules using the discussed methods.


  • Ion sources (FAB, PD, LD, MALDI, ESI, GD, ICP)
  • Analyzers (magnetic sector, quadrupole, TOF, ICR, ion trap)
  • Detectors (Faraday cup, electron multiplier, multichannel plate)
  • Data acquisition systems
  • Computer aided data evaluation

Applications in life sciences
  • Analysis of inorganic components in biological samples
  • Analysis and structure determination of small organic components (tandem MS/MS techniques)
  • Mass spectral databases
  • Accurate molecular weight determination of large protein molecules
  • Mapping and sequencing of biopolymers
  • Protein and nucleotide databases
  • Exploring noncovalent complexes
  • Combination of MS with separation techniques (GC-MS, LC-MS, etc.)

Suggested readings: You are encouraged to read the following journals on a regular basis: Analytical Chemistry, Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, Journal of Mass Spectrometry and Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry.

Academic Integrity: This course is committed to upholding the standards described in the Code of Academic Integrity. A short introduction to the Code is enclosed.  The complete Code is available at the GWU Academic Integrity site
Prerequisites: A strong foundation in analytical chemistry and permission of the instructor.

Method of evaluation: The following components determine your final grade: Homework assignments 30%, Classroom contributions 20%, Final exam 50%.

For more information call me or the Department of Chemistry at (202) 994-6121.

Method of Instruction: This is a BlackBoard based course. Course outline and assignments are available at the Blackboard web-site.

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