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M4I Joins Waters Centers of Innovation Program

july 7, 2016

At a ceremony and symposium at Maastricht University, Waters Corporation officially welcomed the Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging Institute (M4I) into the Waters Centers of Innovation (COI) Program. Under the direction of Professor Ron Heeren, the institute conducts research into applications for mass spectrometry in three main areas: oncology, neurology and cardiovascular medicine.

“In 2014, we welcomed Ron Heeren in Maastricht to become our university professor. The economy of Limburg benefits greatly from his innovative impulses to scientific developments and Prof. Heeren’s research group is of paramount importance for the growth and development of UM research,” said Prof. Martin Paul, President of Maastricht University. “The M4I Institute, consisting of Heeren’s mass spectrometry lab and Peter Peters’s nanoscopy lab, is already one of the largest imaging centres in Europe. M4I expands already established imaging infrastructures such as Brains Unlimited, and improves Maastricht’s position as an international centre of excellence for human and molecular imaging even further.”

“Prof. Heeren is a true visionary and we are extremely pleased to welcome him into our COI Program,” said Eric Fotheringham, Director of the Waters Centers of Innovation Program. “The fantastic work being done by the MultiModal Molecular Imaging Institute with the help of imaging mass spectrometry gives me a lot of optimism about medical science and the future of health care.”

For its research, the Institute employs three forms of mass spectrometry – mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) coupled with ion mobility and high spectral mass resolution. The scope of Prof. Heeren’s use of imaging mass spectrometry is wide-ranging. He uses it to determine where molecules of all types – lipids, intact proteins, endogenous peptides, drug metabolites – are localized within a tissue sample - and which are found in high concentrations and which are not - all in an effort to improve the understanding of disease progression and regression.

In an interview published in 2014, Prof. Heeren said, “I dare to predict that in ten years’ time, this imaging technique will be a standard diagnostic tool and patients will be assessed on their individual molecular status. We’re already well on the way in oncology, neurology and cardiovascular medicine.”

Precision or personalized medicine is the development of treatments that are attuned to the specific biology of an individual patient. More specifically, by understanding the molecular heterogeneity of tumors and their different cellular phenotypes, precise treatments can be formulated that offer a patient the best chance of a long and healthy life.

To salute the work of Prof. Heeren and the Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging Institute, Waters Corporationsponsored a symposium titled Translational Imaging MS: Molecular Pathology Towards Precision Medicine. The event featured presentations by noted experts in imaging mass spectrometry including Markus Stoekli, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research; Prof. Klaus Dreisewerd University of Münster; Prof. Michel W. F. Nielen, Wageningen University; Dr.Liam McDonnell, Leiden University Medical Center; Professor Zoltan Takats, Imperial College.

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