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PNNL's Richard Smith named 2010 Scientist of the Year
Date:11/1/2010

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Parkinson's disease, cancer and biofuels production are just a few problems that biochemist Dick Smith has helped untangle in his long career of technological innovation and scientific insight. Now, R&D Magazine has honored Smith as 2010 Scientist of the Year for his many significant contributions to science.

Called "creative," "innovative" and "adventurous" by his colleagues, Smith is currently the director of proteomics at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Since the 1980s, Smith has pushed technological advancements in this field, bringing analytical chemistry techniques into the domain of microbiologists and medical researchers. He is the first DOE scientist to earn this honor.

Smith is one of the most-published scientists in the field of proteomics (pro'-tee-oh'-mics), which seeks to understand biology by the complement of proteins at work within organisms, tissues or cells. Since the Human Genome Project developed a blueprint of all human genes in our chromosomes earlier this century, proteomics researchers have pushed to understand how the blueprint creates life. Genes are the blueprints of proteins, which are the cogs, gears and levers in complex, intricate biological machines.

Proteins often go wrong in disease or infection, and finding those requires sifting through thousands of other proteins. Many problem proteins don't have names or are too rare to find easily.

In the last few years, Smith has led work that trimmed analytical steps from hours to minutes. The increase in speed has enabled many samples to be processed faster in high-throughput experiments. Smith led other advances in sensitivity and accuracy that have improved the ability to find rare proteins, bringing proteomics technology to the doorstep of clinical researchers.

Smith and collaborators have applied the technology to liver disease and cancer in the hopes of finding rare markers of
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Contact: Mary Beckman
mary.beckman@pnl.gov
509-375-3688
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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