A newcomer to the -omics era, proteomics, is a broad instrument-intensive research area that has advanced rapidly since its inception less than 20 years ago. Although the ‘wet-bench’ aspects of proteomics have undergone a renaissance with the improvement in protein and peptide separation techniques, including various improvements in two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and gel-free or off-gel protein focusing, it has been the seminal advances in MS that have led to the ascension of this field. Recent improvements in sensitivity, mass accuracy and fragmentation have led to achievements previously only dreamed of, including whole-proteome identification, and quantification and extensive mapping of specific PTMs (post-translational modifications). With such capabilities at present, one might conclude that proteomics has already reached its zenith; however, ‘capability’ indicates that the envisioned goals have not yet been achieved. In the present review we focus on what we perceive as the areas requiring more attention to achieve the improvements in workflow and instrumentation that will bridge the gap between capability and achievement for at least most proteomes and PTMs. Additionally, it is essential that we extend our ability to understand protein structures, interactions and localizations. Towards these ends, we briefly focus on selected methods and research areas where we anticipate the next wave of proteomic advances.

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