Prof. Karger’s research focuses on the development and application of microscale separations and MS analysis to problems of biological relevance. Current research involves (1) comprehensive characterization of complex proteins at the low fmole level using LC coupled to a hybrid linear ion trap – FT mass spectrometer; (2) ultra-narrow (5-20 µm i.d.) monolithic and porous layer open tubular columns for low attomole LC/MS proteomic analysis; (3) proteomic tissue analysis for disease biomarker discovery using 10,000 cells or less; and (4) multiplex LC coupled to MALDI-MS using a 2 kHz repetition rate laser.
Professor Karger’s research group collaborates with clinicians, microbiologists and fundamental cell biologists to apply the developed technologies. As an example, the group is interacting with an industrial group on the discovery and validation of biomarkers for low and high grade stained cells from Pap smears (cervical scrapings). In another example, they are collaborating with a microbiologist on the study of growth of anaerobic bacteria (Archaea). The discovery of overexpressed enzymes has led to an understanding of important pathways for energy conservation. In a third example, the group is studying the kinetics of phosphorylation of tyrosine kinase receptors (EGFR) upon signal stimulation in order to elucidate important signaling pathways in tumor cancer cells. In these and other examples, the technology in ultratrace LC/MS allows generation of information not readily obtained by current methodologies.