Roman Zubarev

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Roman A. Zubarev
Born Stavropol, Russia
Nationality Russia
Alma mater Moscow Engineering Physics Institute
Uppsala University
Known for Mass spectrometry
Electron-capture dissociation
Isotopic resonance hypothesis
Isoaspartate theory of Alzheimer's disease
Origin of life studies
Scientific career
Fields Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Biochemistry
Institutions Cornell University
University of Southern Denmark
Uppsala University
Karolinska Institutet
Doctoral advisor Bo Sundqvist

Roman A. Zubarev is a professor of medicinal proteomics in the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at the Karolinska Institutet. His research focuses on the use of mass spectrometry in biology and medicine.

Early life and education[edit]

Research interests[edit]

  • Electron-capture dissociation. In 1997, while in Fred McLafferty's lab at Cornell University, Zubarev discovered the phenomenon of electron-capture dissociation (ECD)1 of polypeptides. He later developed ECD and other ion-electron reactions2 as analytical techniques in Odense (1998-2002) and Uppsala (2002-2008).
  • Isotopic Resonance Hypothesis. Discovered the phenomenon of isotopic resonance in Uppsala (2008),2 formulated the isotopic resonance hypothesis and experimentally verified it in Stockholm (2009-2013)3.
  • Isoaspartate theory of Alzheimer’s disease. The role of isoaspartate in Alzheimer’s disease has first been suggested as early as in 1991.4 Over the next three decades the evidence gradually accummulated, being strongly supported by blood proteomics data.5
  • Origin of life studies. Zubarev showed that the organic matter produced abiotically in a Miller-Urey experiment can be assimilated by bacteria, and thus proved that early Earth has been a hospitable place for life.6 For the first time in history of science, Zubarev obtained a living cell from dead matter.7 In that landmark experiment, bacteria were separated into lipids, nucleic acids and proteins, and these ingredients were isolated and incubated separately and in a mixture. After incubation, the isolates were seeded on Petri dish. While isolated molecules showed no growth (negaive control), lipid-containing mixtures gave bacterial colonies, proving that life can self-assemble from a mixture of right ingredients.


  • Curt Brunnée Award, 2006
  • Biemann Medal, 20078
  • Gold medal, Russian Mass Spectrometry Society, 2013

External links[edit]


1Zubarev, R. A.; Kelleher, N. L.; McLafferty, F. W. Electron Capture Dissociation of Multiply Charged Protein Cations. A Non-ergodic Process, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1998, 120, 3265-3266.

2 Zubarev, R. A.; Artemenko, K. A.; Zubarev, A. R.; Mayrhofer, C.; Yang, H.; Fung, E. Y. M. Early life relict feature in peptide mass distribution, Cent. Eur. J. Biol. 2010, 5, 190-196.

3 Xie, X.; Zubarev, R. A. Isotopic Resonance Hypothesis: Experimental Verification by Escherichia coli Growth Measurements, Scientific Reports, 2015, doi:10.1038/srep09215

4 Johnson, B. A.; Shirokawa, J. M.; Geddes, J. W.; Choid, B. H.; Kim, R. C.; Aswad, D. W. Protein L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase in postmortem brains of aged humans, Neurobiology of Aging, 1991, 12, 19-24.

5 Yang, H.; Lyutvinskiy, Y.; Herukka, S.-K.; Soininen, H.; Rutishauser, D.; Zubarev, R. A. Prognostic polypeptide blood plasma biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease progression, J Alzheimer’s Disease, 2014, 40, 659-66.

6 Xie, X.; Backman, D.; Lebedev, A. T.; Artaev, V. B.; Jiang, L.; Ilag, L. L.; Zubarev, R. A. Primordial soup was edible: abiotically produced Miller-Urey mixture supports bacterial growth, Scientific Reports, 2015, 5, article number: 14338, doi:10.1038/srep14338

7 Bernadotte, A.; Semenova, V.; Musial, V. A. M.; Kasprzykowska, A.; Zubarev, R. A. Self-assembly of Deinococcus radiodurans supports nanocell scenario of life origin, Discoveries, 2017, 5, E72, doi: 10.15190/d.2017.2.

8Brodbelt JS, McLafferty FW, Kelleher NL (2008). "Focus in honor of Roman Zubarev, recipient of the 2007 Biemann Medal". J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 19 (6): 751–2. PMID 18499035. doi:10.1016/j.jasms.2008.04.021.