Bioanalysis Zone

2013 Young Investigator Award Finalist (Highly Commended): Justo Giner Martínez-Sierra


Justo Giner Martínez-Sierra YIA


Nominee: Justo Giner Martínez-Sierra, University Of Oviedo, Spain

Nominated By: José Ignacio García Alonso, University Of Oviedo, Spain


Supporting Comments: I am very pleased to nominate Justo Giner Martínez-Sierra for the Bioanalysis Young Investigator 2013 award. Justo has very recently finished his PhD Thesis under my supervision (January 2013). His outstanding PhD Thesis ‘development of analytical methodologies for the study of sulfur metabolism using enriched stable isotopes’is an example of multi-disciplinary work (i.e. analytical chemistry, biochemistry and biotechnology of yeast, animal experiments, spectroscopy, chemometrics, etc.) that involves the use of state-of-the-art bioanalytical technology. His work has been very challenging, but also exciting and rewarding for Justo. The overall quality of the work is excellent. During his PhD Thesis Justo Giner Martinez-Sierra was able to prepare eight scientific manuscripts (all SCI ranked). In five papers he is the first author; all were accepted in excellent analytical journals with impact factors> 3. Some of the published work includes results obtained in collaboration with international organisations including LGC Limited, the United Kingdom National Measurement Institute for Chemical and Biological Measurements, where the nominated carried out two pre-doctoral stays. His list of conference contributions is impressive with eight poster presentations and ten oral presentations (three as presenting author) all of them in international conferences of high prestige. I am sure that Justo will achieve even greater feats in times to come and strongly recommend his candidature for Bioanalysis: Young Investigator 2013 award.

What drove you to choose a career in bioanalysis?

When I took my degree in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Oviedo, I had the chance to join the emerging research group of Enriched Stable Isotopes in Oviedo (Spain). There, I found challenging projects in bioanalysis and a great career opportunity using state-of-the-art bioanalytical technology. Undoubtedly, Mass Spectrometry has established itself as a reference analytical technique in different scientific fields providing qualitative, quantitative and isotopic information. The latter one can be used, for example, to develop innovative analytical procedures in chemical metrology (isotope dilution analysis) and for the study of living systems using enriched stable and nonradioactive isotopes (metabolism studies).

Describe the main highlights of your bioanalytical research, and its importance to the bioanalytical community both now and in the future.

My research is focused on novel analytical Inductively Coupled Plasma-MS (ICP-MS) based concepts with great potential in bioanalysis. We have labeled proteins in yeast with enriched sulphur-34 and investigated different ICP-MS platforms in combination with chromatographic separation methods for S-tracer studies. The introduced toolset using multiple tracers (sulphur-33 for quantification purposes) enabled us to actually measure the isotopic ratio and the concentration of the most important S-species (e.g. amino acids methionine and cysteine) in the yeast and therefore could be used for quantitative proteomics (S-containing peptides and proteins) using Isotope Dilution Analysis. This successful fundamental work was the essential starting point to show completely new ways for studying S-metabolism using stable and nonradioactive tracers, opening the way to in vivo studies of S-metabolism. In the same vein, we have developed methodologies by HPLC-ICP-MS to carry out iron and selenium metabolism studies using enriched stable isotopes. Additionally, in connection with natural variations of the isotopic composition, we have developed a method for the measurement of longitudinal variations of S-isotope ratios in single human hair strands by Laser Ablation-ICP-MS that could potentially aid prediction of geographical origin and recent movements of subjects or provide information on diet and lifestyle.

Describe the most difficult challenge you have encountered in the laboratory and how you overcame it?

I have faced so many challenges in my professional life, but it is not easy to categorize them in difficult, more difficult or most difficult. Challenges are challenges! In my opinion, the important thing is how I deal with it and I always try to overcome it with energy, positive attitude and self confidence. Currently, I am on the way to becoming a biotech entrepreneur. That means a lot of interdisciplinary work out of my scientific background, that’s why I am trying to improve the ability to ‘speak’ both business and science, taking the time to understand the marketing, financial, business issues, and needs of the other disciplinesthat are relevant to my goals. Anyway, I have learnt that everyday is a challenge, in fact life itself is a challenge. I enjoy the challenges, so enjoy the life.

Where do you see your career in bioanalysis taking you?

One of the main goals of my future career is to seriously evaluate the possibility of starting a biotech company (spin-off) at the University of Oviedo, with interaction with other researchers and institutions. I would like to set up a laboratory where I can merge both biosynthetic experience and mass spectrometry background to create isotopically labelled compounds for Isotope Dilution Mass Spectrometry (IDMS). I am particularly interested in the preparation of labelled peptides to be used in quantitative proteomics and the development of metabolism studies using enriched stable isotopes.

How do you envisage the field of bioanalysis evolving in the future?

I foresee IDMS in the future playing a key role in the field of bioanalysis. The field of enriched stable isotopes is clearly multidisciplinary, with emerging applications in chemical metrology, quantitative proteomics, metabolism, and biomedicine. In particular, the development of analytical methodologies and instrumentation in the field of bioanalysis, based on IDMS, for the improvement in the quality of measurements performed by testing and industrial laboratories, will be of special interest. Moreover, the application of terms and concepts of chemical metrology (traceability, validation, certification, etc.) into bioanalysis will be high valued. With more experts from different areas working together, I am confident that the field of bioanalysis will grow quickly and strongly over time.

Please list 5 of your recent publications, and select one that best highlights your career to date in the field of bioanalysis.

Santamaria-Fernandez R, Giner Martínez-Sierra J, Marchante-Gayón JM, García-Alonso JI, Hearn R. Measurement of longitudinal sulfur isotopic variations by laser ablation MC-ICP-MS in single human hair strands. Anal Bioanal. Chem. 394, 225–233 (2009).

Rellán-Alvarez R, Giner-Martínez-Sierra J, Orduna J et al. Identification of a Tri-Iron(III), Tri-Citrate Complex in the Xylem Sap of Iron-Deficient Tomato Resupplied with Iron: New Insights into Plant Iron Long-Distance Transport. Plant Cell Physiol. 51, 91–102 (2010).

Giner Martínez-Sierra J,  Moreno Sanz F,  Herrero Espílez P,  Santamaria-Fernandez R,  Marchante Gayón JM, García Alonso JI. Evaluation of different analytical strategies for the quantification of sulfur-containing biomolecules by HPLC-ICP-MS: Application to the characterisation of S-34-labelled yeast. J. Anal. At. Spectrom. 25, 989–997 (2010).

Lunøe K, Martínez-Sierra JG, Gammelgaard B, Alonso JI. Internal correction of spectral interferences and mass bias for selenium metabolism studies using enriched stable isotopes in combination with multiple linear regression. Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 402, 2749–2763 (2012).

Martínez-Sierra JG, Sanz FM, Espílez PH, Gayón JM, Fernández JR, Alonso JI. Sulphurtracer experiments in laboratory animals using 34S-labelled yeast. Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 405(9), 2889–2899(2013)

My research is focused on novel analytical ICP-MS based concepts with great potential in bioanalysis. Basically, the methodology involved the measurement of isotope ratios addressing the use of enriched stable isotopes. In the latter case (Sulphur tracer experiments in laboratory animals using 34S-labelled yeast) the ultimate aim was showing completely new ways for studying sulphur metabolism using stable and nonradioactive tracers, opening the way to in vitro and in vivo studies of sulphur metabolism.


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