Dr. Liam Bell


Video of the Researcher

Lab name

Center for Proteomic and Genetics Research




Full name

Dr. Liam Bell


Dr. Bell works with academics and the private sector to help them conduct proteomic analysis.

Type of researcher

Researcher (Professional)

Introduce yourself, your experience and your credentials

Hi my name is Liam. I work at the Center for Proteomic and Genomic Research and I

went to the uct medical campus. I joined Professor Jonathan Blackburn’s lab for my master’s which i then upgraded to my PhD. That was in medical biochemistry and that’s when i was introduced to proteomics as a technology.

It was then that we decided to use this technology to look at an interesting phenomenon involving patients who have TB and HIV and who receive their treatment but end up having quite severe adverse reaction. It’s known as TB related immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome.

Describe your research

I run the proteomics platform at the CPGR. I have two other colleagues who work with me. Together we try and help clients understand at the systems level what’s going on with their samples using the proteomics technologies. The dominant one in our platform is lcm sms making use of orbit trap technology. 

The best way i can try and describe what we do is if you were a racing car driver and you made use of a formula one car you would get the most out of the performance of what that car could do. If you were a regular everyday driver you wouldn’t really be able to come close to what that car could do.

In many ways our job is to try and take the racing car which is our instrumentation and drive it as if we’re Formula 1 drivers. So we use our expertise and how to make sure that it’s running efficiently running really nicely quality controls all working well and generate good quality data that can come out of that and use for sort of systems level analyses. That’s really fundamentally what we try and achieve.

We try and do this as either sort of like a CRO type function so an outsourced r&d type of function for big companies or within the academic space to try and facilitate academics who may not have the expertise in this area but want to make use of this technology for their particular research focus.

Explain its significance

Big data generally is becoming more and more important. In many ways I view this as a bit of a currency and proteomics allows you to generate large amounts of data quite quickly and it’s generated at the core phase effectively. If you think about your biology you have your genes which you know large scale study of genes would be your genome.

Genes become your RNA transcripts within a large scale study that would be a transcriptome. From there you get your proteins large scale study that would be your proteome. So the proteome really is where everything happens in the cell: they’re the doers, they move things around, they build the physical structures, they’re really involved in driving a lot of the mechanics and the mechanisms that occur within cells within tissues and between organs.

It’s really important to have an understanding of what’s going on there. So this can have implications in all kinds of fields whether they’re medical, agricultural, marine associated, it’s really very very vast. We often have to rely on the expertise of the researchers that we work with to bring in the biological understanding of what’s going on.  

Whereas we can help them on the technical side to make sure that what they’re looking at is of high quality and really really good you.


Institution name

Center for Proteomic and Genetic Research

Type of institution

Research Institute


Professional, scientific and technical services

Professional, scientific and technical services