I review laboratory research on the development of mass spectrometric methodology for the determination of the structure of natural products of biological and medical interest, which I conducted from 1958 to the end of the twentieth century. The methodology was developed by converting small peptides to their corresponding polyamino alcohols to make them amenable to mass spectrometry, thereby making it applicable to whole proteins. The structures of alkaloids were determined by analyzing the fragmentation of a known alkaloid and then using the results to deduce the structures of related compounds. Heparin-like structures were investigated by determining their molecular weights from the mass of protonated molecular ions of complexes with highly basic, synthetic peptides. Mass spectrometry was also employed in the analysis of lunar material returned by the Apollo missions. A miniaturized gas chromatograph mass spectrometer was sent to Mars on board of the two Viking 1976 spacecrafts.


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