The Juan Pablo Albar Proteome Pioneer Award has been awarded annually since 2015 to a scientist who has made significant contributions to the field of proteome research. This year, the award goes to Karl Mechtler, former Head of the Proteomics Facility at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) and the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA), now leading the Proteomics Tech Hub shared between the IMP, IMBA and the neighbouring Gregor Mendel Institute (GMI).
Karl Mechtler has over 20 years of experience in mass spectrometry and proteomics, and the facility he is leading was Austria's first proteomics core facility, founded in 2000. Throughout his career, he has contributed to more than 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals. His work focuses on developing new mass spectrometry methods to improve protein identification and quantification sensitivity, accuracy, and precision. In 2021, Karl Mechtler was honored with the highest award of the Austrian Proteomics and Metabolomics Society. Within the European Proteomics Association, Mechtler developed the Proteomics Academy and was responsible for the education of young scientists from 2014 to 2020.
In 2023, he founded the Proteomics Tech Hub, aiming to advance cutting-edge proteomics methods with a strong focus on single-cell proteomics. His team identified the need for novel, loss-free sample preparation protocols, and high-sensitivity mass spectrometry instruments as key requirements for future single-cell proteomics studies. To this end, they organized the first European Single Cell Conference in 2019 and collaborated with Cellenion, a company specializing in pipetting minimal volumes. This lighthouse project developed an accurate and reproducible sample preparation protocol using a picolitre handling robotic system. By now, most renowned academic research groups working in single-cell proteomics use this automated system (cellenONE®, Cellenion) to enable efficient sample preparation in miniaturized volumes and with high throughput.
“The award not only acknowledges past accomplishments but also serves as a starting point for new scientific breakthroughs at the Vienna BioCenter,” says Karl Mechtler.