HUPO (HUman Proteome Organization)

June 25, 2001; HUPO is pleased to announce that it has elected its Inaugural President, Dr. Sam Hanash. Dr Hanash is a pioneer in cancer proteomics. He is professor of Medicine at the University of Michigan. He has contributed to numerous aspects of proteomics, from technology development, construction of databases of protein expression and integration of genomic and proteomic data, to clinical applications of proteomics. He heads a large academic research group that is focusing on the application of cancer proteomics to disease classification, the discovery of novel therapeutic targets and of novel biomarkers for the early diagnosis of cancer.

Dr. Hanash is enthusiastic about the potential of HUPO to contribute substantially to the field of proteomics. "There is a need to develop a real focus for HUPO that does not compete with other ongoing activities but that synergizes other efforts in proteomics. An infrastructure needs to be put in place that allows HUPO to move forward in its mission. To succeed in its mission, HUPO needs to effectively mobilize resources in the private, academic and governmental sectors. An obvious first step is to organize within HUPO working groups that are assigned responsibilities to deal with specific issues related to proteomics. A plan is in the making to convene in the very near future a Council meeting to initiate the incorporation of HUPO and establish guidelines for its future activities. A second annual Human Proteome project meeting is already planned for early in 2002 and HUPO intends to organize further meetings over the coming year in order to promote proteomics in the global arena and facilitate broad participation".

Over the last few months, important meetings were held on both sides of the Atlantic and in Oceania to address issues surrounding the Human Proteome Project. These meetings have allowed HUPO council members a forum whereby to interact and reflect on issues of relevance to the best path forward for HUPO. To date, HUPO has received an incessant wave of interest from individuals and companies proffering support. A legal structure is now of paramount importance to accept financial and other offers of support. Unlike HUGO at its inception, the HUPO council is not faced with the daunting task of capital raising so that work might commence on the Human Proteome Project. Rather, much of its initial role will no doubt be linked to defining the exact nature of the task at hand. Significant resources are already available for proteomics research, but these are needing to be supplemented globally. Collectively, organizations represented by members of the HUPO council already have in excess of one billion dollars to start studies on the Human Proteome. This latter figure is further supplemented by funding currently directed to numerous other groups under government initiatives in the sector of functional genomics, which abound in Europe and SE Asia/Australia and the USA. The council also reflects from its inception the involvement of both private and public sector interests, each necessary for a balanced view of the real world factors likely to influence the future of this discipline.

Some of the immediate house-keeping issues needing to be resolved by HUPO are listed below:

(1) The need to source initial and then on-going funding for its activities.

(2) Incorporation of a legal entity

(3) Establishment of a full-time secretariat and rental of offices something we believe should be done nearby the offices of HUGO in London.

(4) Appointment of a press secretary to co-ordinate global efforts to promote HUPO activities and the Human Proteome Project.

(5) Hold a non-electronic inaugural council meeting.

(6) Creation of a North American Sub-committee to complement those in Europe and Japan/ Oceania. Other task forces are planned as a means of rapidly bringing the views of many individuals to a collective forum.

(7) HUPO council intends to enlarge its membership to encompass a wider view of protein science.

Current progress includes:

(1) CHI agreeing to hold a second Human Proteome Project Meeting next January 2002 in San

Diego in a manner similar to their HUGO TriGenome Series. This will afford HUPO at least one major annual forum to assess research progress and future direction.

(2) The HUPO web-site ( will be given a professional facelift thanks to the input of Prof Young-Ki Paik's group in Korea

(3) The first Human Proteome Project Meeting in Washington in April 2001 should be considered a great success.

(4) Since completion of the initial blueprint and more recently the working draft of the Human

Genome, proteomics has enjoyed much interest globally.

Some initial consensus as to objectives for the route forward (as aired in Washington in April 2001) include:

(1) Establishment of a Human Protein Catalogue, i.e. a complete list of all distinct proteins, including the co- and post- translationally-modified products of multiple splice variants and cleavage products, i.e., the family of protein isoforms encoded by the a gene. This is of major relevance to international efforts to accurately annotate the Human Genome sequence with respect to small Open Reading Frames, start codons, exon/intron boundaries and hypothetical genes.

(2) Making available a cDNA clone set to allow fabrication of recombinant proteins from each Human ORF.

(3) Producing reporter ligands on the output of each and every ORF product. This could include traditional antibodies; antibody mimics; phage display antibodies or portions thereof; aptomers; affibodies and/or other ligands.

(4) Detailing protein/protein interactions.

(5) Detailing protein/nucleic acid interactions.

(6) Establishing more formal links with the structural genomics community.

(7) Detailing relative levels of tissue specific protein expression.

(8) Detailing relative levels of intra-cellular protein expression.

(9) The status of each of (1) to (8) with respect to numerous disease states.

Other initiatives should also include promoting access to centralized banks of both healthy and diseased tissues and the establishment of international standards for the production and comparison of research findings.

All of above were seen as worthwhile and discrete elements necessary for a Human Proteome Project.

The Human Proteome Project is seen as likely to be bigger than Human Genome Project and the diversity of niches therein is likely to ensure that it will also be far more democratic in nature.

Numerous groups on a global scale are expected to have an opportunity to make meaningful contributions whether as part of large-scale private or public initiatives or small laboratories with specialized interests. As a result, HUPO may have great difficulty co-ordinating these international efforts. Nonetheless, there remains an important role for HUPO in helping promote proteomic studies, facilitating interactions between groups, promoting public debate and soliciting greater funding for the research endeavours both in the public and private sectors through heightened awareness of the expected human health benefits arising from proteomics.