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Holger Kramer, head of mass spectrometry facility at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, dies at 43

The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology has been left saddened and shocked by the death of Holger Kramer, the head of its mass spectrometry facility, at the age of 43.

He suffered a brain haemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm.

The Cambridge lab described him as a “highly interactive, inquisitive and engaged scientist”.

Holger Kramer, head of the LMB's mass spectrometry facility, has died at the age of 43. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Holger Kramer, head of the LMB's mass spectrometry facility, has died at the age of 43. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

He had worked in mass spectrometry and proteomics for more than 14 years and published about 70 papers on a range of topics.

Manu Hegde, joint-head of the LMB’s Cell Biology Division, said: “Holger’s enthusiasm for mass spectrometry, from the finest technical details to the future possibilities in this field, shone through in all of his interactions with colleagues across the lab.”

Following a degree in chemistry at the University of Marburg in Germany, Holger completed a MSci in chemistry at the University of Birmingham and a PhD on the synthesis of glycoproteins and C-linked glycopeptides, with Prof Benjamin G Davis at the Department of Organic Chemistry, University of Oxford.

There, he developed his keen interest in using mass spectrometry to address biological problems.

He became a postdoctoral research assistant with Prof Benedikt Kessler at the Nuffield Department of Medicine in Oxford, focusing on the application of proteomics approaches to the investigation of early events in HIV-1 infection.

He worked on chemical proteomics strategies for the study of cellular deubiquitinases and collaborated on studies of cellular signalling.

He was in charge of quantitative proteomics analysis within the lab and worked on multiple, concurrent projects, with wide collaborations.

In 2010, he became proteomics core facility scientist at the University of Oxford in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, with sole responsibility for the delivery of biological mass spectrometry analysis techniques, on which he collaborated with research groups within the Wellcome Trust-funded OXION consortium.

Holger became the head of biological mass spectrometry and proteomics at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (MRC LMS) in 2016, leading on service delivery and overseeing the expansion of the facility, including recruitment and a major investment in technology.

He developed analytical approaches for proteomics analysis at the lab and introduced metabolite analysis and quantification.

He joined the LMB in October 2021 as head of the mass spectrometry facility, leading a small team providing quantitative high-resolution analysis of proteins and peptides to help solve otherwise challenging biomedical research problems. The facility expertise in structural proteomics and top-down biological proteomics are key to most of the LMB’s research activities.

Jan Löwe, LMB director, said: “Holger brought experience and a strong sense of curiosity to mass spectrometry at the LMB, and his interactive style helped him become a well-loved colleague in no time. We will miss him dearly.”

Holger, who was actively engaged with the wider proteomics and mass spectrometry community, contributed to scientific meetings and conferences in the field.

He was active in postgraduate training and assessment and had significant teaching experience at the University of Oxford, being recognised as a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) in 2017.

Holger, who died on August 23, was a member of the MRC Harwell training coordination committee, the British Mass Spectrometry Society (BMSS), the British Society of Proteome Research (BSPR) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

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