ASMS 2024 – passion, purpose and potential

It was great to be back at the American Society of Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) Annual Conference and take the pulse of this buoyant industry first hand. Now in its 72nd year and held in sunny (or not so much) Anaheim on June 2nd-6th, ASMS felt busy and its mood resolute, with a strong focus on real-world applications and the sense of a community set to take science to the next level.

2024 is my fifth year at the show – albeit the first two virtual – and in the short time I’ve been going I felt a new energy in this year’s halls. Minneapolis in 2022, the first in-person ASMS after lockdown, seemed slightly reserved, Houston last year was packed and bustling, but in Anaheim I found a strong sense of purpose among delegates keen to share their achievements among the global community and with the scientific media.

As mass spectrometry (MS) enters a new era, graduating from its roots in analytical chemistry to broader application in big picture fields such as new cancer biomarkers, biologics, microplastic contaminants, battery efficiency and food quality control, for example, what’s clear is that the ASMS community is passionate about driving the technology forward to reach its full potential. 

Key themes at this year’s show included:

1. Supporting sustainability

As the world is looking to the scientific community to help solve macro issues like climate change and food supply shortages, manufacturers are looking to lead by example – both by making instrumentation and labs more sustainable (an example is Bruker’s DART chromatography-free technology, which can remove most solvent waste from a workflow) and by investing in sustainable manufacturing processes and plants.

2. Paving the way to personalised medicine

MS instrument innovation means that proteins within a cell can now be compartmentalised for precision analysis, such as in the fast developing field of immuno-peptidomics. Understanding the individual phenotype of a person and how they might respond to a certain therapeutic helps inform better treatment decisions for diseases like cancer.

3. Protecting the environment from microplastics

MS is proving its increasing worth in identifying and quantifying environmental contaminants such as per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), now that the plastics first introduced in the 1950s are slowly breaking down into thousands of potentially harmful microscopic pollutants that find their way into our food and water supply. With the new US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regulations for drinking water starting to bite across the nation, MS will play an even more important role in helping providers comply.  

4. ML and AI driving action

Instrument innovation is moving fast – and we are generating more data than we can currently process and use. Enter machine learning. Based on more and more sophisticated ML models, in silico data processing is looking set to make the data itself a commodity, with the analytical software the new value-add that will give the scientific community true actionable insights – and drive research to new levels.


And some of my personal favourites:

  • The fact that the industry is prepared to listen to seemingly anecdotal evidence, realise its potential, and take it further, with the result that advances in the understanding of Parkinson’s Disease were uncovered. Thank you Prof. Perdita Barran for this wonderful session.

  • Getting to meet industry greats like the inspirational Dr. Melvin Park, inventor of trapped ion mass spectrometry, and Prof. Matthias Mann, most highly cited German researcher and forerunner in MS-based proteomics.

  • Hearing first hand the inspirational achievements of this incredible sector across so many different fields of application – from paving the way to understanding cancer, to finding new materials that can power more sustainable vehicles and smart phones of the future.

  • Oh and the swag – this year’s favourites for me: the Bruker caricature, the Peak shades – and the Vici ‘Teddy the dog’ t-shirt. Thanks!

So, despite the weather that reminded me more of home (Manchester, England) than the 40 degree heat I’d been promised in California, I felt privileged to visit ASMS 2024 to experience some of the world’s most forward-thinking science that’s set to shape all our futures.

See you next year.

Alison Owen
Head of Public Relations
Kapler Communications Ltd

Kapler Communications Ltd has many years of experience in managing the corporate reputations of scientific and technology organisations, from FTSE 500s to new start-ups. If you’d like help managing your media and marketing strategies at events and conferences, read our event management case study, and get in touch with our friendly and professional team.
And to read more about the future of MS from industry experts TDA Research, click here.

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About the Author: Alison Owen