Type of Work





Quantification of cholesterol in human plasma using "Static Organic Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry" (SIMS)

First quantitative measurement with static organic SIMS

Meyer, K., Hagenhoff, B., Deimel, M., Benninghoven, A. & Bauch, H.J.(1992). Quantification of Molecular Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry by Internal Standards. Organic Mass Spectrometry, 27, 10, 1148-1150 

Application in the clinical chemistry department, University Münster [1]


Theoretical and experimental description of the electrospray ionization effect

Prediction that the electrospray ionization could generate molecular ions of unlimited mass

Wilm, M. & Mann, M. (1994). Electrospray and Taylor-Cone Theory, Dole's Beam of Macromolecules at last ? International Journal of Mass Spectrometry and Ion Processes, 136, 167 -180

Nobel prize for Prof. Fenn in 2002 for the experimental discovery of large ions generated with the electrospray ionization (1989) [2]


Experimental realisation of the nano-electrospray ion source

By a factor of about 100 more sensitive peptide sequencing and protein mass determinations 

Wilm, M., Shevchenko, A., Houthaeve, T., Breit, S., Schweigerer, L., Fotsis, T. & Mann, M. (1996). Femtomole Sequencing of Proteins from Polyacrylamide Gels by Nano-Electrospray Mass Spectrometry. Nature, 379, 466-469

Richtzenhain prize of the DKFZ, 

Edman prize together with Dr. M. Mann and Dr. J. Yates


Realisation that the Tandem Affinity Purification (TAP) introduced by B. Seraphin will be a key technology for functional proteomics - dedication of all available mass spectrometry resources

- proposal to use TAP as a project to create an EMBL spin-off company (the investment bankers favored another project proposal)

Systematic exploration of protein function in Yeast 

Winning a competitive BioFuture grant for functional proteomics (4% overall success rate) 

Rigaut, G., Shevchenko, A., Rutz, B., Wilm, M., Mann, M. & Seraphin, B. (1999). A generic protein 

purification method for protein complex characterization and proteome exploration. Nat Biotechnol, 17, 10, 1030-2

CellZome (EMBL - spin off company, 90 employees) came into existence when the organizers adopted the TAP method and the systematic investigation of protein networks as their core activity (2001) [3]


Establishing the company funded visitor laboratory

Realisation of the major core-facility for protein characterization at EMBL


The iTAP project - the modification of the TAP technology to transfer it to cells from higher eukaryotes

Systematic exploration of protein function in higher eukaryotes on cell culture level

Forler, D., Kocher, T., Rode, M., Gentzel, M., Izaurralde, E. & Wilm, M. (2003). An efficient pro- tein complex purification method for functional proteomics in higher eukaryotes. Nat Biotechnol, 21, 1, 89-92

Patent licensed in many countries,

more than 70 technology transfer agreements


Introduction of a new mass spectrometric data acquisition regime for the general characterization of secondary protein modifications 

First general method to characterize protein modifications

Niggeweg, R., Köcher, T., Gentzel, M., Buscaino, A., Taipale, M., Akhtar, A., Wilm, M. (2005). A General Precursor-Ion-Like Scanning Mode on Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Instruments Compatible with Chromatographic Separation. Proteomics, 2006. 6(1): p. 41-53.

Waters is launching a new series of instruments based on this acquisition regime (2004, independent development: ExpressIon systems). 

This acquisition regime promises to become one of the central methods in analysing quantitative patterns in proteomics. It will have noticeable impact for medical applications and research in systems biology.
Today (2018),in an improved form, it is implemented as an acquisition method in many types of modern mass spectrometers (All Ion Fragmentation, SWATH). In 2017 the developer of the SWATH technique received the HUPO science & technology award .


Version 4.0 of Arcadiate published, a programme for the visualisation and analysis of proteomic data

A high level, user friendly application on the level of Skyline for the analysis of proteomic data



Successful completion of the experiments to synthesise large membranes with membrane proteins using a nano-electrospray ion source

Such membranes have the potential to bring the biochemical properties of membrane proteins into the macroscopic world

M. Wilm, “Synthesis of Extended, Self-Assembled Biological Membranes containing Membrane Proteins from Gas Phase,” bioRxiv, vol. 23, pp. 661215, 2019