Top-tier science is not the sole domain of prestigious academic labs or multi-billion-dollar corporations. Sometimes it comes from smaller for-profit companies, and when such a company is launched by a Nobel laureate it is even to be expected. Proteros Biostructures GmbH, which operates in Martinsried, Germany adjacent to the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, counts Dr. Robert Huber, Professor Emeritus at this institute and recipient of the 1988 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The company engages in biopharmaceutical lead discovery services as well as protein production, characterization, protein crystallography and cryo-EM.
It is our pleasure this month to interview Dr. Nina Simon, who is one of the heads of the Protein Science Group in the Protein Production Department at Proteros. Evaluating the target proteins and leads produced in this facility, to ensure that they are ready for the most demanding scientific discovery and research work, is a key part of her role and naturally this is why she adopted Wyatt’s SEC-MALS instrumentation.
Please tell us about your background: where you grew up, studied, and why you chose the field you did.
I grew up in the north of Germany, close to the North Sea coast. I attended the LMU University in Munich where I received a B.S. in Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as a M. Sc. in Biochemistry. I then received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the LMU Munich, where my dissertation focused on DNA-binding proteins and characterization of protein complexes via crystallography and cryo-EM. From an early age, I absorbed a passion for science. During my studies, this evolved into my passion for proteins.
What does your current position entail? How does it tie in to your previous experience, and where is it going?
I am currently a group leader in the Protein Production Department at Proteros biostructures. My position entails exactly what my Ph.D. focused on: we provide high quality recombinant protein expression and purification services tailored to customer needs (protein supply, for cryo-EM, for crystallization, for assays, …). Quality control of the purified proteins plays an important role after the purification. Each protein we work on, also brings us new challenges and insights because they are all different.
In what context did you first learn about light scattering and Wyatt instruments?
I first learned about light scattering and Wyatt instruments during my Ph.D. research. I distinctly remember using it to characterize our protein complexes. Also, I attended a seminar presented by Wyatt to learn about SEC-MALS and how to use the instrument.
How have your Wyatt instrumentation contributed to your research and development studies?
We are constantly using our MALS instrument, especially to effectively characterize purified protein samples. For example, SEC-MALS is a quick, simple, and efficient method for assessing molecular weight, homogeneity, etc. in order to verify that the samples are well-purified and suitable for crystallography and cryo-EM. Wyatt has always been very responsive and supportive to our development needs and questions.
Wyatt has always been very responsive and supportive of our development needs and questions.