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NIH Common Fund - Disruptive Proteomics Technologies - Challenges and Opportunities

This Request for Information (RFI) is directed toward determining how best to accelerate research in disruptive proteomics technologies.

The Disruptive Proteomics Technologies (DPT) Working Group of the NIH Common Fund wishes to identify gaps and opportunities in current technologies and methodologies related to proteome-wide measurements.  For the purposes of this RFI, “disruptive” is defined as very rapid, very significant gains, similar to the "disruptive" technology development that occurred in DNA sequencing technology.

Our ability to identify and quantify proteins in complex (e.g., clinical) samples is progressing steadily, but it is clear that orders-of-magnitude improvements in the associated technologies would enable substantial advances in a large range of biomedical research areas.  In other words, the current state-of-the-art is good, but limiting.  A few of the specific limits are:

  • Technology/instrumentation is expensive
  • Because of expense, labs have limited access, but demand is high
  • Current technology is not capable of proteome-wide measurements

In a long-term technology development effort, it is difficult to anticipate what basic methodology holds the best potential for dramatic improvements in proteomics capabilities. The current dominant methodology for high-throughput identification and quantification of proteins is mass spectrometry (MS). MS holds good potential for further incremental improvement, but opportunities for orders-of-magnitude improvement are unclear.  In addition, there are other technologies that hold promise for significantly improving proteomics capabilities, though they are currently less developed than MS.

The purpose of this RFI is to collect information from the broader research community to assess the needs/gaps and opportunities in both MS and non-MS approaches for discovery-based proteomics.

Information Requested

As part of the initial planning phase, the DPT Working Group requests information on the following topics related to needs/gaps/opportunities in both MS and non-MS-based disruptive proteomics technology development. 

1. MS-based comprehensive protein identification and quantification.  Realistic goals and associated challenges for orders-of-magnitude improvements in dynamic range, sensitivity, throughput or cost.  Specific areas of instrumentation (e.g., source design/analyzer geometry, coupling with other instrumentation, etc.) more likely to yield disruptive improvements.

2. Non-MS-based comprehensive protein identification and quantification. Opportunities and challenges for other technologies that could in the near or far term approach/exceed MS-based methods with respect to:  accuracy, dynamic range, throughput, and cost in analyzing proteomes.

3. Potential benefits and challenges in incorporation of informatics approaches and/or integration of large protein datasets into the development of the proteomic technologies.

4. Potential important impacts of proteomics technology breakthroughs in basic, discovery and translational biomedical research.


Please send responses no later than March 26, 2012.

Responses may be submitted by email to or via a social media website that allows discussion of ideas by the general community ( Individuals submitting through the social media website will have the option of doing so anonymously.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary.  Any personal identifiers (e.g., names, addresses, e-mail addresses, etc.) will be removed when responses are compiled.  Only the de-identified comments will be used.  Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response.  The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s).

This RFI is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, the NIH, and/or the NIH Common Fund. The NIH does not intend to make any awards based on responses to this RFI or to otherwise pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government's use of such information.


Specific questions about this notice may be directed to:

Tina Gatlin, Ph.D.

Program Director
 | National Human Genome Research Institute | Email: