Challenges and opportunities for biological mass spectrometry core facilities in the developing world
Vorster, Barend C.
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The developing world is seeing rapid growth in the availability of biological mass spectrometry (MS), particularly through core facilities. As proteomics and metabolomics becomes locally feasible for investigators in these nations, application areas associated with high burden in these nations, such as infectious disease, will see greatly increased research output. This article evaluates the rapid growth of MS in South Africa (currently approaching 20 laboratories) as a model for establishing MS core facilities in other nations of the developing world. Facilities should emphasize new services rather than new instruments. The reduction of the delays associated with reagent and other supply acquisition would benefit both facilities and the users who make use of their services. Instrument maintenance and repair, often mediated by an in-country business for an international vendor, is also likely to operate on a slower schedule than in the wealthiest nations. A key challenge to facilities in the developing world is educating potential facility users in how best to design experiments for proteomics and metabolomics, what reagents are most likely to introduce problematic artifacts, and how to interpret results from the facility. Here, we summarize the experience of 6 different institutions to raise the level of biological MS available to researchers in South Africa