Roman Zubarev group

The Roman Zubarev group focuses on Molecular Biometry using mass spectrometry for studying various processes of biological and medical importance.

Special research interests beyond Proteomics


We have developed a monocyte-based proteomics assay to quantify the innate immune response to xenomolecules and used it to characterize the toxicity of various nanoparticles.

We have also pioneered “SpotLight proteomics” which is based on de novo sequencing of the repertoire of antibody motifs present in blood of a patient cohort.

Gas-phase fragmentation

Roman Zubarev is one of the pioneers of electron capture dissociation (ECD) and related ion-electron reactions. He discovered that organic radicals come in two kinds, hydrogen-abundant and hydrogen-deficient radicals, which differ significantly in their reactivity and properties.

Fasmatech (Athens, Greece) built the ultimate device for gas-phase structural analysis of polypeptides for us – the OMNI-trap. With this device, the decades-old dream of the “top-down” sequencing of large proteins may come true.

Isospartyl in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), ageing and stemness

We formulated the isoaspartate (isoAsp) hypothesis of the AD origin, that postulates that deamidation of asparagyl residue and isomerization of aspartyl residues in proteins initiate the cascade of protein aggregation, ultimately resulting in AD, but also playing an important role in ageing.

We are studying ways to:

  1. measure the isoAsp content in human blood as an AD risk factor,
  2. reduce the isoAsp load in the organism to prevent AD and slow down ageing,
  3. study the role of isoAsp repair in stemness.

Cancer and cell death modalities

Cell morphology measured at the molecular level via abundant, structural proteins can faithfully reflect the behavior of drug targets.

Based on this finding, we are identifying all possible types of cell death by treating cancer cells with a variety of anticancer agents (work in progress).

Origin of life and Astrobiology

We have shown that abiotically produced (from simple gases and water) organic matter can support life of prokaryotes, supporting the idea that early Earth was a hospitable place for primitive life.

For the first time, a living cell was produced from dead matter.

Effect of stable isotopes on biology: Isotopic resonance hypothesis

We have discovered that the average terrestrial isotopic compositions of the elements C, H, N and O are not random but correspond to a “resonance” for molecules with Z=0, where Z = C – (N+H)/2. At an isotopic resonance, a reduction of complexity occurs, and most reactions acquire faster kinetics. Among the molecules with Z=0, 11 out of 20 amino acid residues, and many proteins.

The isotopic resonance hypothesis has been extensively tested and found truthful at p<10-15 level. Therefore, life on Earth has benefitted in early days, and continues to benefit now, by the presence of the Z=0 isotopic resonance. In contrast, neither Mars nor Venus have isotopic resonances. In general, isotopic compositions on Mars are found to be detrimental for terrestrial life.

We continue to explore the isotopic resonance phenomenon and its consequences for biology, medicine and technology.


Selected publications

Members and contact

Group leader

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Visiting address

Karolinska Institute, Biomedicum, 9A, floor 9, Solnavägen 9, Stockholm, 171 65, Sweden

Analytical Chemistry Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Medical Biotechnology (focus on Cell Biology (incl. Stem Cell Biology), Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry or Biopharmacy)
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