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Fred McLafferty

Peter J.W. Debye Professor, Emeritus

Baker Laboratory, Room 256

Educational Background

  • Postdoc, University of Iowa   
  • PhD, Cornell University 
  • MS, University of Nebraska
  • BS, University of Nebraska                                                                   



Professional Positions and Service

Leader, mass spectrometry and gas chromatography, Dow Chemical Co., Midland, MI (1950-6).

Director, Eastern Research Lab for basic research, Dow Chemical, Framingham, MA (1956-64).

Professor of Chemistry, Purdue Univ. (1964-68).

Professor of Chemistry, Cornell, 1968-; Peter J. W. Debye Professor, 1991; Emeritus, 1992.

National Research Council: Boards on Numerical Data, Radioactive Waste Management, and Chemical Sci. & Techn.; Pimentel’s Opportunities in Chemistry; and Panels on Separations Techn. & Transmutation Sys., Army Chem. Sci., and Chem. Defense (Chair).

World Bank: Chinese Universities Development Project (1983-7).

Amer. Chem. Soc: Chair, Anal. Chem. Divn.; Chair, Midland and Northeastern Sections; Editor, ACS Accounts of Chemical Research (1986-94).

Amer. Assoc. Adv. Sci.: Chair, Chemistry Section.

Advisory Boards: Chem., Brookhaven Natl. Lab (Chair); ACS Petrol. Res. Fund; NSF EPSCoR Idaho; Anal. Chem., Acc. Chem. Res., Chem. Revs., ACS Adv. Chem. Ser., Org. Mass Spectrom., Appl. Spectr. Rev., Computer & Chem., MS Revs., J. Am. Soc. MS, J. MS, J. MS Soc. Japan. 

Honors and Awards

U.S. National Academy of Sciences (1982).

American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1985).

Italian Academy of Sciences XL (2002).

Honorary DSc degrees: Universities of Nebraska (1983), Liege (1987), & Purdue (1995).

American Chemical Society: Awards in Chemical Instrumentation (1972), Analytical Chemistry (1981), Mass Spectrometry (1989), and Nakanishi Prize (with Chem. Soc. Japan) (2016).

New York ACS Section: Nichols Gold Medal (1984).

Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh Award (1975).

International Mass Spectrometry Society: J. J. Thomson Gold Medal (1985).

Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award (1987).

University of Naples Gold Medal (1989).

Royal Society of Chemistry: Robert Boyle Gold Medal (1992).

Utrecht University: J. M. Bijvoet Medal (1997).

Czech Academy of Sciences: J. Heyrovsky Medal (1999).

Italian Chemical Society: G. Natta Gold Medal (2000).

Swedish Chemical Society: Torbern Bergman Medal (2001).

Am. Soc. Mass Spectrometry: Distinguished Contribution to Mass Spectrometry (2003).

French Chemical Society: Lavoisier Medal (2004).

International Association for Protein Structure: Pehr Edman Award (2006).

Eastern Analytical Symp: Outstanding Achievements in Mass Spectrometry (2012).

U.S. Army, S/Sgt.: Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart, Five Bronze Star (valor) Medals, Presidential Unit Citation (1943-5).


  • Chemistry and Chemical Biology


Publications: >500, h-index 97.

Narayan, M.; Welker, E.; Zhai, H.; Han, X.; Xu, G.; McLafferty, F. W.; Scheraga, H. A. Detecting native folds in mixtures of proteins that contain disulfide bonds, Nat. Biotechnol. 2008, 26, 427-429.

Steinberg, M. Z.; Elber, R.; McLafferty, F. W.; Gerber; R. B. Breuker, K.  Early structural evolution of native Cytochrome c after solvent removal, ChemBioChem, 2008, 9, 2417-2423.

Breuker, K.; Jin, M.; Han, X.; Jiang, H.; McLafferty, F. W. Top-Down Identification and Characterization of Biomolecules by Mass Spectrometry, J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 2008, 19, 1045-1053.

Breuker, K.; McLafferty, F. W. Stepwise Evolution of Protein Native Structure with Electrospray into the Gas Phase, 10-12 - 102 s, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2008, 105, 18145-18152.

McLafferty, F. W. Mass Spectrometry across the Sciences, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2008, 105, 18088-18089.

Han, X.; Smith, N. L.; Sil, D; Holowka, D.; McLafferty, F. W.; Baird, B. A. IgE Receptor Mediated Alteration of Membrane-Cytoskeletal Interactions by Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Detergent-Resistant Membranes, Biochemistry, 2009, 48, 6540-6550.

Kong, X.; Lin, C.; Infusini, G.; Oh, H.-B.; Jiang, H.; Breuker, K.; Wu, C.-C.; Charkin, O. P.; Chang, H.-C.; McLafferty, F. W. Numerous Isomers of Serine Octamer Ions Characterized by Infrared Photodissociation Spectroscopy, ChemPhysChem, 2009, 10, 2603-2606.

McLafferty, F. W. Registry of Mass Spectral Data (and Registry combined with NIST), 9th Ed.,Wiley-Blackwell: Hoboken, N. J., 2009; 662,000 (796,000) spectra of 592,000 (667,000) compounds with 565,000 searchable structures.

McLafferty, F. W.; Castro, S.; Breuker, K. Multistep Evolution of Protein Conformation on Electrospray into the Gas Phase, Eur. J. Mass Spectrom., 2010, 16, 437-442.

McLafferty, F. W. A Century of Progress in Molecular Mass Spectrometry, Annu. Rev. Anal. Chem. 2011, 4, 1-22.

Breuker, K.; Skinner, O. S.; McLafferty, F. W.  Femtosecond laser vaporization preserves protein folded structure: an unproven idea. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2012, 109, E206.

Skinner, O. S.; Breuker, K.; McLafferty, F. W.  How Ubiquitin Unfolds after Transfer into the Gas Phase. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 2012, 23, 1011-1014.

Begley, T. P.; Ealick, S. E.; McLafferty, F. W. Thiamin Biosynthesis: Still Yielding Fascinating Biological Chemistry. Biochem. Soc. Trans. 2012, 40, 555-560.  

Skinner, O. S.; Breuker, K.; McLafferty, F. W.  Charge Site Spectra:  Conformation-Sensitive Components of the Electron Capture Dissociation Spectrum of a Protein. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 2013, 24, 807-810.