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Farewell message from HUPO Past President, Stephen Pennington

12 Jan 2021 3:11 PM | Deleted user

Stephen Pennington, HUPO Past President, UCD Conway Institute, Ireland

It has been a genuine privilege and honour to have had the opportunity to serve as HUPO President for the past two years. The COVID-19 global pandemic has made the last 9-10 months very challenging for the HUPO community and leadership team (Executive Committee). Our thoughts go to those in our community who have been directly impacted and especially those who have lost loved ones.

I’m sure we are all conscious of the devastating negative health and social consequences of COVID-19. Amongst the very many negatives it is reassuring, and perhaps necessary, to hold onto some positive outcomes from the pandemic. The increase in public and professional awareness of the science of biology and virology, of diagnostic testing and vaccine development has been remarkable to witness. Proteomics has been at the front and centre of these efforts. Likewise, the importance of global collaboration and sharing of data has been in the spotlight. This is something that isn’t new to HUPO as global collaboration and data sharing has been at the heart of HUPO and its various initiatives for many years. We should all be proud of the contribution proteomics has made and continues to make to all aspects of COVID-19 research and clinical practice. It behoves us all to publicise these efforts and capitalise the increased public awareness and support for biological sciences to more generally promote the importance of the very real global impact of proteomics research. Raising the profile of proteomics and its “success stories” has been a consistent priority for the HPP and we should now be poised to progress this with renewed vigour.

HUPO is a global organisation that promotes equality and diversity. The dramatic events of 2020 highlighted the importance of making all aware of this. I am very grateful to Sue Weintraub not only for her steadfast support as Vice-President but also for carefully crafting HUPO’s diversity statement.

The HUPO Congresses are a highlight of the HUPO year and they have continued to showcase the very best of proteomics, presented by the very best of proteomics researchers at all stages of their scientific experience. In 2019, we had the opportunity to participate in a wonderful congress in Adelaide, Australia. Organising such a successful Congress takes a huge amount of effort so without naming names I’d like to thank the local organisers for hosting the superb science, the HPP day and allied events such as the ICPC and Immuno-peptidomics meetings and combining all this with a superbly enjoyable experience.

At the start of 2020 we were all excited by the prospect of another annual Congress – this time in Stockholm, Sweden. In a very timely manner and as the COVID pandemic was gripping the world the Stockholm local organising committee advised against a ‘face-to-face’ Congress. The decision was made to postpone the Stockholm meeting (to 2021) and hold a virtual Congress in 2020 – a first for HUPO.  A virtual Organising Committee (vOC) was assembled and worked tirelessly with colleagues from ICS (our core professional conference organiser) to plan and deliver HUPO Connect 2020. In addition, to the regular repertoire of proteomics research, the Congress provided an opportunity to highlight the key role proteomics has played in COVID-19 research. At a personal level, the chance to participate in the vOC; witnessing the development of our early stage career researchers, and the Congress supporting the development of a library of the recorded presentations were highlights of 2020. There have been many other proteomics highlights including, but not limited to, the publication of the High-Stringency Blueprint of the Human Proteome, the publication of the annual HPP metrics paper and the celebration of 20 years of the Human Protein Atlas.

Of course, challenges (opportunities) remain for the continued development of proteomics and I’m very confident that HUPO under leadership of YuJu Chen will continue to catalyse the pace of proteomics successes. YuJu will be ably supported by the HUPO EC and, under the leadership of Rob Mortiz, the HPP EC.

Finally, I’d like to encourage all members and especially existing and newly elected HUPO Council members to get involved in HUPO’s activities. The old adage – the more you put in the more you get out – is as true now as it ever was.

Thank you all for giving me a wonderful opportunity and particularly to those who have guided and supported me in the last two years. It’s perhaps not wise to single out any individuals but here goes anyway….! I’d particularly like to thank Jenny van Eyk and Michelle Hill for their consistent and much valued wise counsel and support and Chelsea Prangnell for her support and willingness to share the benefit of her ‘HUPO experience’.

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