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Perdita Elizabeth Barran is a Professor of Mass Spectrometry at the University of Manchester. She is Director of the Michael Barber Centre for Collaborative Mass Spectrometry.[1][3] She develops and applies ion-mobility spectrometry–mass spectrometry to the study of molecule structure and is searching for biomarkers for Parkinson's Disease. She co-leads the mass spectrometry theme for the Rosalind Franklin Institute. She was awarded the 2009 Joseph Black award from the Royal Society of Chemistry Analytical Division.

Perdita Barran
Perdita Elizabeth Barran
EducationGodolphin and Latymer School
Alma materUniversity of Manchester (BSc)
University of Sussex (PhD)
Scientific career
Parkinson's disease
Mass spectrometry
Ion-mobility spectrometry–mass spectrometry[1]
InstitutionsUniversity of Manchester
University of Edinburgh
University of California, Santa Barbara
ThesisStudies of refractory clusters produced from a pulsed arc source (1988)
InfluencesHarry Kroto[2]


Education and early careerEdit

Barran went to Godolphin and Latymer School. She moved to the University of Manchester to study chemistry, graduating in 1994. She joined the University of Sussex for her graduate studies, working with Harry Kroto and Tony Stace.[4][2]

Research and careerEdit

Barran stayed with Stace for three years after completing her PhD in 1998. In 2001 Barran joined the University of California, Santa Barbara, working as a postdoctoral fellow with Mike Bowers.[citation needed] She was interested in the structure and stability of small molecules in the gas phase.[5] She looked at how Ion-mobility spectrometry could be used to identify conformation.[5]

Barran joined the University of Edinburgh as an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Advanced Research Fellow in 2002.[6] In 2005 she was awarded the 10th Desty Memorial prize for her innovations in Separation Science. She was made a Senior Lecturer in 2009. She worked on mass spectrometry techniques that can be used to evaluate conformational change, aggregation and intrinsic conformation. She investigated mass spectrometry for therapeutics for pre-fibrillar aggregation.[7] She helped to establish the Scottish Instrumentation and Resource Centre for Advanced Mass Spectrometry at the University of Edinburgh.[2] This had an initial remit to provide proteomic analysis for the MRC Human Genetics Unit.[8]

In 2013 Barran was appointed to the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology as a Chair in Mass Spectrometry sponsored by Waters Corporation.[9][10] She led an EPSRC platform grant to study the structure-activity relationships of Beta defensins.[9] She works with Cait MacPhee, Garth Cooper and Tilo Kunath on neurodegenerative proteins,[9], and with several groups including Richard Kriwacki, Rohit Pappu and Gary Daughdrill to examine intrinsically disordered proteins. She works with several biopharmaceutical companies to apply new mass spectrometry techniques to new drug modalites including monoclonal antibodies.[citation needed] She also develops new mass spectrometry instrumentation.[citation needed] Her group looks at the structure of biological systems at a molecular level, studying them in the gas and solution phase as well as theoretically.[9] They use electrospray ionization, mass spectrometry, ion mobility mass spectrometry native mass spectrometry and complementary solution based biophysical techniques.[11] They are interested in a proteins structure and how it changes in an effort to relate that to their function.[12] Ion-mobility spectrometry–mass spectrometry can be used to look at the temperature dependent rotationally averaged collision cross-section of gas-phase ions of proteins.[13] In 2014 she was awarded a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council grant to study the interactions of proteins with other proteins.[14] Barran serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Mass Spectrometry.[15] She was included in the page of Perditas created by Perdita Stevens.[16]

Parkinson's diseaseEdit

Barran has been working with Joy Milne to search for odorous biomarkers of Parkinson's disease.[17][18] By smelling skin swabs, Milne can differentiate between people with and without Parkinson's disease.[19] She identified changes in her husband's scent before he was formally diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which he died of in 2015.[19] Barran uses mass spectrometry to identify the biomarkers of Parkinson's disease. The story was made into a BBC documentary The Woman Who Can Smell Parkinson's.[20] Barran received ethical approval for her work of the skin metabolites of Parkinson's in 2015, allowing them to work with Parkinson's UK to conduct a larger study.[21] In 2018 Milne travelled to the Tanzanian training centre APOPO to check whether she could smell Tuberculosis.[22] Barran's work on Parkinson's is sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation.[23]


  1. ^ a b Perdita Barran publications indexed by Google Scholar  
  2. ^ a b c "Prof Perdita Barran: The University of Manchester". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  3. ^ Perdita Barran publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  4. ^ Barran, Perdita Elizabeth (1998). Studies of refractory clusters produced from a pulsed arc source. (PhD thesis). University of Sussex. OCLC 53686642. EThOS
  5. ^ a b "The Bowers Group - University of California at Santa Barbara". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  6. ^ "Perdita Barran - Edinburgh Research Explorer". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  7. ^ "Perdita Barran Group". Perdita Barran Group. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  8. ^ "2009 Winner of the RSC Joseph Black Award - Perdita Barran". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  9. ^ a b c d "Discovery through Innovation" (PDF). Manchester. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  10. ^ "10 Years of the MIB (2006 - 2016) | Manchester Institute of Biotechnology". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  11. ^ "Techniques". Perdita Barran Group. 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  12. ^ "Perdita Barran -Biophysical Chemistry- Research In A Nutshell - School of Chemistry -18/04/2013". Media Hopper Create - The University of Edinburgh Media Platform. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  13. ^ Jurneczko, Ewa; Barran, Perdita E. (2011). "How useful is ion mobility mass spectrometry for structural biology? The relationship between protein crystal structures and their collision cross sections in the gas phase". The Analyst. 136 (1): 20–28. doi:10.1039/C0AN00373E. ISSN 0003-2654.
  14. ^ author, BBSRC. "Portfolio Analyser". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  15. ^ "Professor Perdita E. Barran". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  16. ^ "A page of Perditas". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  17. ^ Quigley, Elizabeth (2017-12-18). "Scientists sniff out Parkinson's smell". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  18. ^ "Skin odour could lead to early diagnosis of Parkinson's". Skin odour could lead to early diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  19. ^ a b Knapton, Sarah (2017-12-18). "Woman who can smell Parkinson's disease helps scientists develop first diagnostic test". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  20. ^ "BBC Scotland Investigates, 2017, The Woman Who Can Smell Parkinson's". BBC. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  21. ^ "Skin metabolites in Parkinson's disease". Health Research Authority. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  22. ^ "The woman who smells Parkinson's meets the rats who smell TB". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  23. ^ "You Can Smell When Someone's Sick—Here's How". 2018-01-18. Retrieved 2018-11-02.