Proteomics technology enables the system-wide analysis of proteins with the goal to understand their function in the context of all the other biomolecules present in the cells and/or tissue. For example, it allows studying the regulatory effect of protein interactions and modifications in for instance cancer and autoimmune diseases. Moreover, as nearly all used drugs target proteins, proteomics has led to a better understanding of drug-treatments, in the context of the emerging view that such treatments should become more personalized to become more effective and avoiding unwanted side-effects.
Proteomics has become a pivotal technology for research in all of the life sciences; it provides the crucial link between information presented by gene sequencing and the phenotype of the disease or other relevant studied biological process. Proteomics tools are nowadays used in a broad spectrum of applications, ranging from the in-detail study of inter and intra-cellular signaling, monitoring early diagnostic protein biomarkers of disease, to applications in microbial, animal, plant and structural biology. The Netherlands Proteomics Centre (NPC), already established in 2003, combines research in proteomics technology with access to technology alongside an integrated program to enhance and improve the use of bioinformatics in proteomics, opening up the way for -omics data integration. The NPC is firmly established in the national research community and recognized internationally. The NPC has been pivotal in bringing together the leading European large-scale proteomics facilities in two large EU funded infrastructure projects, PRIME-XS (2011-2015) and EPIC-XS (2019 – now), both coordinated by the core node of the NPC at Utrecht University. The NPC also laid the foundation for providing high-end proteomics expertise and technology to the Dutch scientific community. Built on this solid foundation from 2014 to 2019, the NPC operated the national Roadmap project Proteins@Work, which provided proteomics access to a wide range of academic and industrial partners.
Being both technological and community-driven, the NPC has contributed significantly to the innovative climate in the Netherlands and Europe. The enabling technologies developed in the NPC have led to substantial economic and societal value, often achieved in collaboration with industrial partners active in e.g. biotechnology, pharmaceutical sciences and agriculture, but also in instrument development. Mass spectrometry-based proteomics has an almost limitless range of applications in fields as diverse as improving quality of life, health care and disease prevention, as well as environmental monitoring and sustainability research.
These fields also have a broad societal and economic impact. The NPC collaborates with various other large-scale facilities such as the European Bioinformatic Institute (EBI) and the ESFRI landmark project Instruct for integrated structural biology. The NPC is also well affiliated to ONCODE and two NWO Gravity programs, CancerGenomics.nl (CGC.nl) and the Institute for Chemical Immunology (ICI). The NPC thus plays an essential role in the Dutch Life Sciences.
Since 2019, the NPC is one of the core partners and pillars of the national Roadmap project X-Omics, which aims to provide access, but only to biomedical research projects that combine genomics, metabolomics and/or proteomics. More recently the application area of mass spectrometry-based proteomics has been extended to structural biology and personalized medicine. These areas of application opened up through technical innovations in mass spectrometry partly pioneered by the NPC and the NPC proposes, together with partners, the establishment of a new technology focused cluster, MS-NL, to develop and provide access to the next generation of mass spectrometers and mass spectrometry applications for a broad range of reseachers (section 6).