Angela Mc Ardle (UCD Conway Institute)
What made you chose a career in bioanalysis?
Initially I had an interest in immunology and was particularly fascinated by how pathogenic mechanisms initiate and propagate disease. Bioanalysis grew on me as I came to understand how important analytical tools are in the elucidation of disease process and how they can be applied in biomedicine to address unmet clinical needs. I liked the idea or pursuing this career further, since it would allow me to make a small contribution to health science research and the fight against disease.
Describe the main highlights of your bioanalytical work?
The main highlights of my bioanalytical work include (i) the identification of clinically relevant biomarkers in inflammatory arthritis and (ii) the development of a quality control assay that can be used to support the further evaluation of these biomarker. In brief, it is widely acknowledged that there is a need to develop a test that can be used to distinguish between patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).At early onset PsA often resembles other disease types- especially RA. Making an accurate and early diagnosis is important to ensuring that individual patients receive effective and safe medication. Thus an LC-MS/MS based study was undertaken whereby baseline serum samples from patients with early onset PsA and RA were analyzed. This analysis was very robust and supported the identification of biomarkers with potent discriminatory power (AUC 0.94). Subsequently a comprehensive multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) assay was developed to further evaluate the diagnostic power of these proteins. Simultaneously an MRM assay was developed to support this evaluation study by providing a means to monitor instrument performance and normalize resulting data.
How has your work impacted your laboratory, the bioanalytical field and beyond?
The work described above has impacted on our laboratory since it has supported successful (i) grant applications (ii) publications and (iii) invention disclosures. This work contributes to the bioanalytical field in that it showcases the capabilities of mass spectrometry based proteomics. Further it supports the notion that MRM is a powerful tool and can be used to facilitate the translation of biomarkers into to clinical use. In the grand scheme this work contributes to improve patient outcomes. Currently there are no diagnostic criteria for PsA and the recognition of disease is dependent on the experience of the treating clinician. Therefore diagnosis is often missed or delayed and this has been associated with functional consequences for the patient. Making an accurate diagnosis early allows for the adoption of optimal treatment strategies. This effectively, would relieve patient from (i) irreversible joint damage and (ii) substantial financial burdens.
Describe the most difficult challenge you have encountered in your scientific career and how you overcame it?
The most difficult challenge I have faced in my scientific career would be combating a storm of technical and personnel issues in the face of looming deadlines. To elaborate further, there was an instance when both of the mass spectrometers in our lab lost operational capacity. Simultaneously, a sudden loss in personnel meant taking on considerably extra project work. The task of adhering to multiple project timelines in the face of technical aberrations was burdensome. Overcoming this required not only a logical approach to technical troubleshooting but also clear communication and considerable personal sacrifices. The design of well controlled experiments that would illustrate issues faced and thus justify the purchase of new instrument components was required. Key to the success of this process was rapid turnover of data and presenting the findings in a manner that was accessible to all parties involved (scientists, collaborators, technical support, engineers). Once operational performance was restored a plethora of project work had to be prioritized and executed. This meant putting aside my own personal ambitions and free-time and dedicating them instead to meet the needs of others. What at first seemed like a thankless task was in reality a very valuable learning experience.
Describe your role in bioanalytical communities/groups?
I am a member of the MIAMI consortium (Monitoring innate immunity in arthritis and mucosal inflammation) an inter-disciplinary group of researchers commissioned by the European Union (EU FP7). The primary focus of this group is to improve on the understanding of seronegative inflammatory arthritis disease mechanisms and to find novel biomarker panels for early diagnosis and prediction of disease extension and response to therapy. MAIMIs main goal is to consolidate existing and develop novel biomarkers for individual adaptation of therapies (personalized medicine) for seronegative arthritis. The MIAMI program focused on an innovative multi-omic research strategy which included an integrated proteomic and transcriptomic approach to addressing unmet clinical needs in arthritis. The LC-MS/MS and MRM analysis was associated with this project was undertaken in our lab.
List up to five of your publications in the field of bioanalysis:1 McArdle A, Qasim Butt A, Szentpetery A, de Jager W, de Roock S, FitzGerald O, Pennington SR: Developing clinically relevant biomarkers in inflammatory arthritis: A multiplatform approach for serum candidate protein discovery. Proteomics Clin Appl 2016, 10(6):691-698. 2 Mc Ardle A, Flatley B, Pennington SR, FitzGerald O: Early biomarkers of joint damage in rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. Arthritis Res Ther 2015, 17:141. 3 Butt AQ, McArdle A, Gibson DS, FitzGerald O, Pennington SR: Psoriatic arthritis under a proteomic spotlight: application of novel technologies to advance diagnosis and management. Curr Rheumatol Rep 2015, 17(5):35. 4 Kwasnik A, Tonry C, Mc Ardle A, Qasim Butt, Inzitari R, Pennington SR. “ Proteomes, Their Composition and Their Sources” in Modern Proteomics- Sample Preparation, Analysis and Practical Applications. 2016 Editors Mirzaei, H., Carrasco, M.; Springer. DOI. 10.1007/978-3-319-41448-5_1. 5 McArdle A, Szentpetery A, de Jager W, de Roock S, Hernandez B, FitzGerald O, Pennington SR: Early Detection of Psoriatic Arthritis: A Multi-Omic Approach to Developing a New Blood Test. Conference: European League Of Rheumatology. (EULAR) http://ard.bmj.com/content/75/Suppl_2/596.2
Find out more about this year’s New Investigator Award, the judging panel and the rest of our nominees.