SMN Newsletter


21st November 2018


  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2018

o   Special (Will Allwood)

o   Technical Overview (Hannah Florance)

o   Biology Overview (Gavin Blackburn)

  • Laboratory of the Quarter: Beatson Institute, Cancer Research UK (from Gillian MacKay)

  • Mass Spectrometry Applications in the Clinical Laboratory (MSACL) 2018 EU

o   Course Overview (by Nina Denver)

o   Course Summary (by Emma Hurst)

  • Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Technical Conference 2018 (from Scott Denham)

  • Peter Derrick Memorial Symposium ACS August 2018 (from Ruth Andrew)

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Papers

  • Awarded PhD studentship and grants

  • Upcoming Metabolomics (and other) conferences

  • Vacancies

  • Acknowledgement

For twitter updates search for #ScotMetNet

Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2018 Special (from Will Allwood)

It was a pleasure to organise the Scottish Metabolomics Network meeting 2018 in Dundee.  I have only been based as a researcher in Scotland now for just over three years and have found that the Scottish Metabolomics Network is one of the most welcoming, friendly and rewarding that I have been involved in across my 15 years of working in the metabolomics and metabolite profiling field. 

Over the past three years it is an event that more and more of our researchers at James Hutton Institute (JHI) have started to attend and find to be of great value, so much so that it has become a non-negotiable event in our annual calendar.

RRS Discovery (photo courtesy of Discovery Point, Dundee)

RRS Discovery (photo courtesy of Discovery Point, Dundee)

The meeting now is only in its fourth year and yet has become a consolidated annual event with an impressive community of returning delegates and also an ever-growing cohort of new attendees. The attendance of the meeting increased by ~50% between 2016 to 2017 and I was delighted that this years meeting was near fully booked with 113 delegates, maintaining the high levels of attendance experienced at the University of Glasgow meeting in 2017. I have received an overwhelming volume of positive feedback over the past few weeks since the symposium both from our industry sponsors as well as academics, many reporting how much they valued the “local” networking opportunities and enjoyed the social aspects of the meeting.

The meeting was kicked off by Dr Karl Burgess from Glasgow Polyomics and the Chair of the Network, who extended a warm welcome from where we were quickly whisked off into metabolomic research, with contributions from scientists across Scotland and industrial invitees. A wide-range of Scottish science was show-cased in addition to us welcoming Dr James MacRae, the head of the metabolomics facility at the Francis Crick Institute in London, who entertained us all with his presentation upon discovery of novel therapeutic routes through studying lipid metabolism in the apicomplexan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii (James assured me that my wife being French is absolutely riddled with it..).

Day one included scientific sessions focused on cancer metabolism, lipidomics and steroids, and as a local theme from within the University of Dundee, metabolomics applications in the discovery of disease biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Whereas our second day explored metabolomics and technology development, as well as new emerging technologies across two of its sessions. As a second local theme, the final session focused upon metabolomics applications in food, nutrition, natural products and nutritional health, with presentations coming from two of our researchers at JHI as well as Wendy Russell from the Rowett Institute (University of Aberdeen). This session fed nicely of course into our invited plenary lecture, this year provided courtesy of Professor Baukje De Roos, the Deputy Director of the Rowett Institute, who gave an outstanding talk covering much of her career in nutritional research and the impact that metabolomics and metabolite profiling have made on this field of application.

Prof. Baukje De Roos delivering the plenary lecture (photo courtesy of Red Barn Studios)

Prof. Baukje De Roos delivering the plenary lecture (photo courtesy of Red Barn Studios)

The poster session was one of our largest yet, with over 40 posters being keenly exhibited, from both our early career researchers and industry partners. Many of our early career researchers provided positive feedback on the opportunity to present, interact and gain feedback from the network. Our judges were faced with a hard choice, but we were pleased to congratulate Nicole Brace (UHI, Inverness) on winning the prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry Analytical Division for the best oral communication, with her presentation based upon integrated lipidomics and proteomics investigations of Eicosanoid metabolism.  Giovanny Rodriguez Blanco (Beatson Institute, Glasgow) was awarded the prize for best poster for his work based upon the comprehensive evaluation of parameters in sample preparation for lipidomic analysis of cancer cell lines, whereas Shazia Khan (University of Edinburgh) won the ‘peoples poster prize’ for her work applying DESI-MS imaging to study lipid metabolism within the brain.  


Ruth Andrew and the Edinburgh metabolomics team   preparing for some ant-arctic exploration  (left to right: Scott Denham, Ruth Andrew, Robert Falcon Scott, Emma Hurst and Nina Denver;   photo courtesy of Will Allwood)

Ruth Andrew and the Edinburgh metabolomics team preparing for some ant-arctic exploration (left to right: Scott Denham, Ruth Andrew, Robert Falcon Scott, Emma Hurst and Nina Denver; photo courtesy of Will Allwood)

On Thursday night, we were hosted by the City of Dundee Council, with a welcome reception at Discovery Point and an opportunity for our delegates to explore the museum and RRS Discovery through specially organised tours. It was a pleasure to welcome the Lord Provost and Lady Provost of Dundee, Ian and Linda Borthwick. Ian’s speech reminded us that our work builds on the great contribution of Scotland and Dundee to medical, food and agricultural science. The conference dinner was a great opportunity to catch up with our network of colleagues. It was clear at the meal that our academic and industrial specialists share a relaxed and easy relationship (judging by the karaoke – I will be tarnished forever by the memory of Martin Hornshaw dancing to Donna Summer’s I feel love) that is essential in a scientific field that is so heavily reliant upon analytical technology.

I would like to take this opportunity to offer my thanks to Jeffrey Huang as the meetings co-organiser as well as members of his group (Alun, Elena and Ruitian) and my own colleagues at JHI (Sabine, Gary, Simon and Alex) who all assisted greatly in the setup of the meeting. An even greater debt of thanks is owed to Jo Merrifield and the WTCRF for their huge contribution to the organisation of the symposium, as well of course to the SMN board, Ruth, Andy and Karl, and the organisers of the previous years meetings, Naomi and Gavin (UoG) and Phil (UHI Inverness).   

A massive thanks goes to all of our industrial sponsors, as well as the RSC analytical division and Metabolomics Society, this years levels of sponsorship and awards of meeting grants has been unprecedented and without which it would be totally impossible to continue our symposia show-casing Scottish metabolomics in a friendly and supportive environment.

It is now with great pleasure following our successful 2018 meeting, to pass the baton to our friends and collaborators, Dave Watson and Nick Rattray (Strathclyde University), we are already looking forward to a fun return to Glasgow (and of course its hipster breweries) in 2019.

Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2018 Technical Overview (from Hannah Florance)

The two technologies sessions were diverse. The first session Abdulmalik Alqarni, a PhD student in the Watson group described the effect melittin had on the inflammatory response pathways and the release of various cytokines. He gave a clear description of his workflow to achieve this. He was followed by another PhD student from the University of Edinburgh, Anna Mastela, who showed how a Design of Experiments approach can be utilized to optimize experimental and analytical workflows for the extraction and analysis of CHO cells. She rounded this off explaining how she can reduce misidentifications of metabolites using collisional cross sections generated using linear ion mobility. Karl Burgess gave us three short stories covering multiple aspects of the metabolomics landscape from a pipeline developed in-house to help contextualise and visualize metabolomics data. He then demonstrated how he could avoid using chromatography with an adapted LESA approach allowing minimal destruction and ambient ionization to discover fraudulent Robert Burns manuscripts. He rounded his talk off nicely with an industrial twist with real-time, on-line metabolite profiling for fermentation.

Our sponsors also contributed with examples of how their latest technologies can help us. Elena Sokol from Thermo-Fisher Scientific kicked off the sponsor led technology talks explaining how their advanced approach to carrying out MS/MS and MSn leads to a reduction in uninformative spectra to improve identification and metabolome coverage. Alan Griffiths from Leco gave us an excellent back story to GC and their relationship with TOFs. He described developments they’ve made combining advanced interfacing of GC columns provides increased metabolite discovery with GCxGC separation to compare smoker and non-smoker urine. Shimadzu’s Stephen Brookes explained how they use their iMScope MALDI suitable for a living cell, high resolution imaging with no loss of sensitivity at 100Hz, and their advanced data processing. Martin Hornshaw of Metabalon described their ‘Systems Medicine’ approach to merge genomic data with metabolomics data. Nathan Hawkins of Anatune went into how their metabolomics approach, the ‘Golden Triangle’ works with regards to experimental design utilizing automation in conjunction with Design of Experiments alongside Chemometrics. Dan White of Cardiff University was invited to speak on behalf of SCIEX about his lipidomic profiling on macrophages derived from bone marrow.

Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2018 Biology Overview (from Gavin Blackburn)

A broad range of biology was discussed at the Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium, highlighting how metabolomics can be used to advance research across many different areas. The scientific sessions began with presentations focussing on cancer metabolomics. David Sumpton, Beatson institute, Glasgow, presented data on the re-formulation of culture media to better model in vivo conditions and the effect this has on the results of metabolomics experiments. This was followed by a presentation from Alice Newman, an ECR from Oliver Maddocks’ group in Glasgow, discussing IDO1 driven tryptophan metabolism in pancreatic cancer cells. The final presentation on cancer metabolism in the session was from Kenneth MacLeod, Dundee, discussing humanised models of anti cancer drug metabolism. A great session highlighting the strength of cancer metabolism research in Scotland.

After lunch the scientific sessions continued with presentations on metabolomics and biomarker discovery, an area that covers a wide variety of biological research. Jeffrey Huang, Dundee, began with a presentation presenting data on how metabolic signatures of protein cross-linking could be used as biomarkers of disease. This was followed by Martin Hornshaw, Metabolon, who highlighted how metabolomics can provide greater insight into both population and individual health of people. In the first shift towards lipidomics, Nina Denver, an ECR from Ruth Andrew and Natalie Homer’s group in Edinburgh, discussed the development of an LC-MS/MS method for the analysis of estrogens to aid the understanding of sexual dimorphism in pulmonary arterial hypertension. The final presentation of the session came from Daniel White, presenting on behalf of SCIEX, describing the use of lipidomics to investigate the modulation of phospholipid metabolism and increased cardiolipin synthesis in alternatively activated macrophages. The interest in these topics generated a range of different questions and the link between metabolomics and lipidomics, both of which have strong representation within the SMN, was clear.

The final scientific session of the first day continued in the same vein as the end of the second session with a focus on lipidomics. Nicole Brace, an ECR from Phil Whitfield’s group, UHI Inverness, began with a presentation on integrated lipidomic and proteomic studies on eicosanoid metabolism. More work tying metabolites and proteins together was heard next from Louise Major, University of Saint Andrews, discussing chemical validation of Trypanosma brucei uridine diphosphate-N-acetylglucosamine pyrophosphorylase (UAP) as a drug target. The final presentation of the day came from a speaker invited from The London Metabolomics Network. James MacRae, Francis Crick Institue, London, discussed lipid metabolism in apicomplexan parasites and routes for drug therapy, nicely tying together several of the themes from the previous sessions. A large amount of engagement throughout the day, including questions during sessions and further discussions continued during the breaks, showed just how vibrant a research area metabolomics is. It was very interesting to see people from different research backgrounds and those working in different biological areas finding common threads in the field, hopefully making connections and possibly building collaborations.

The second day was split into four sessions, with two of these, including the plenary lecture, centring around food, nutrition, natural products and health. An area of research that many do not get to hear about but is easily relatable to all and of interest to many. The first session began with Gordon McDougall, James Hutton Institute, Dundee, outlining the use of metabolomics to study plant bioactive components relevant to health. Wendy Russell, Rowett Institute, Aberdeen, followed, discussing the changing nature of our food metabolome due to domestication of crops. Rob Hancock, James Hutton Institute, Dundee, touched on themes discussed the previous day, ‘omics data integration, as he presented a transcriptomic and metabolomic atlas of blackcurrant fruit development.

Wendey Russel, Gordon McDougall and Rob Hancock presenting at the SMN 2018 at the Food, Nutrition, Natural Products and Health – Session (photo courtesy of Sabine Freitag)

Wendey Russel, Gordon McDougall and Rob Hancock presenting at the SMN 2018 at the Food, Nutrition, Natural Products and Health – Session (photo courtesy of Sabine Freitag)

The final scientific presentation of the day came in the form of the plenary lecture from Baukje de Roos, Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, entitled “Precision Nutrition - a Metabolomics Approach for the Next Generation of Dietary Intervention Studies”. As with previous years, the plenary lecture highlighted an area of research generally outwith the SMN, where metabolomics could lead to new and exciting findings. A subject that affects all of those in attendance but an area of research that many may not know much about, Bauke’s work in precision nutrition generated many questions and discussion from the attendees.

Overall the whole symposium felt well balanced, covering a diverse range of biology and research interests that are present across Scotland but tying them all together nicely under the metabolomics banner. Special thanks should also go to the organisers for ensuring everything ran smoothly and hosting the symposium in such a fantastic location.

Panorama view of the V&A and Dundee Discovery in Dundee (photo courtesy of Gavin Blackburn)

Panorama view of the V&A and Dundee Discovery in Dundee (photo courtesy of Gavin Blackburn)

Laboratory of the Quarter: Beatson Institute, Cancer Research UK (from Gillian MacKay)

The Beatson Institute Metabolomics facility employs state of the art mass spectrometry techniques to measure small molecule (metabolite) changes in cancer cells. The facility works with our internal research groups interested in cancer metabolism. We have well established targeted LC-MS methods, where we measure approximately 100 metabolites per sample. For metabolite profiling (or untargeted analysis), we use both Thermo Scientific’s Compound Discoverer as well as Nonlinear Dynamics’ Progenesis QI software, to explore novel changes in metabolic pathways in cancer cells. Recently we have started to expand our capabilities into Lipidomics. For the past three years, we have been involved in organising and delivering a practical Metabolomics course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the USA.

Photograph of Cancer Research UK, Beatson Institute (photograph courtesy pf Beatson Institute)

Photograph of Cancer Research UK, Beatson Institute (photograph courtesy pf Beatson Institute)

The facility is funded by Cancer Research UK and over the past year we have expanded from a team of 2 to a team of 4, including a PhD student.   

Our metabolomics platform is currently focused on the use of our two Thermo Scientific LC-MS systems (Q Exactive Plus and Q Exactive) with their high resolution, accurate mass, Orbitrap technology, useful for both targeted analysis and metabolite profiling. In 2017, we purchased Thermo Scientific’s new Altis triple quad mass spectrometer for more targeted LC-MS/MS analysis. This can offer increased sensitivity and specificity for known metabolites. We are currently using this instrument for measuring lysophosphatidic acids (LPAs).  These instruments are complemented with our Agilent GC-MS/MS triple quad instrument, at present used for measuring acetate, formate and cholesterol.

With our targeted approach to metabolomics, we analyse a range of samples types including cell extracts, medium, plasma, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, tumour and other tissues. Having purchased a metabolite library of 600 standards from Sigma, we are increasing the number of metabolites we can identify on our LC-MS platform. In one analysis, we can determine a broad range of metabolites of different classes, including amino acids, organic acids, sugars, phosphates (glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathways), nucleotides and cofactors (such as CoA, NADH).  Experiments using stable isotope tracers (often labelled 13C glucose in the medium of cell culture experiments) enable us to examine the intracellular kinetics and the proportional distribution of many metabolites produced from the tracer. We are also often interested in metabolite exchange rates between cells and the medium in which they are grown.

Metabolomics can be used to look for novel metabolic changes, by identifying compounds showing different abundances in cancer cells, using an untargeted approach. We are working with Thermo Scientific’s software team for Compound Discoverer in the USA, beta testing the newest version of their software. Using Compound Discoverer has enabled us to further develop our untargeted approach to metabolomics over the past year. We can link to other Thermo Scientific tools, including mzcloud database of fragmentation spectra. This is very important for us as this fragmentation library has been prepared from Thermo Q Exactive mass spec instruments and the fragmentation spectra are much more similar to our own fragmentation spectra than previously used in silico fragmentation databases. Our workflow has developed throughout the past few years and we have now demonstrated inter batch comparison and are using pooled samples and internal standards. Changes in metabolites can be shown using various statistical approaches, such as PCA and OPLS-DA, and metabolites are identified using a range of factors such as accurate mass, adducts, isotopes and fragmentation spectra, comparing with the Human Metabolome Database (HMDB) and other databases. We are using this technique for several projects, many involving clinical samples.

CRUK Metabolomics Team:

Gillian Mackay, David Sumpton, Giovanny Rodriguez-Blanco, Rachel Harris

Photograph of Metabolomics Team, CRUK Beatson Institute (photograph courtesy of Beatson Institute)

Photograph of Metabolomics Team, CRUK Beatson Institute (photograph courtesy of Beatson Institute)

A selection of recent publications:

Sierra Gonzalez, P., O’Prey, J., Cardaci, S., Barthet, V.J.A., Sakamaki, J., Beaumatin, F., Roseweir, A., Gay, D., Mackay, G., Malviya, G., Kania, E., Ritchie, S., Baudot, A.D., Zunino, B., Mrowinska, A., Nixon, C., Ennis, D., Hoyle, A., Millan, D., McNeish, I.A., Sansom, O.J., Edwards, J. and Ryan, K.M. (2018). Mannose impairs tumour growth and enhances chemotherapy. Nature (in press)

 Meiser, J., Schuster, A., Pietzke, M., Vande Voorde, J., Athineos, D., Oizel, K., Burgos-Barragan, G., Wit, N., Dhayade, S., Morton, J. P.,  Dornier, E., Sumpton, D., Mackay, G. M., Blyth, K., Patel, K. J., Niclou, S. P. and Vazquez A. (2018). Increased formate overflow is a hallmark of oxidative cancer. Nature Communications 9: 1368.

 Dornier, E., Rabas, N., Mitchell, L., Novo, D., Dhayade, S., Marco, S., Mackay, G., Sumpton, D., Pallares, M., Nixon, C., Blyth, K., Macpherson, I. R., Rainero, E. and Norman J. C.  (2017). Glutaminolysis drives membrane trafficking to promote invasiveness of breast cancer cells. Nature Communications 8(1): 2255.

 Maddocks, O. D. K., Athineos, D., Cheung, E. C.,  Lee, P., Zhang, T., van den Broek, N. J. F., Mackay, G. M., Labuschagne, C. F.,  Gay, D., Kruiswijk, F., Blagih, J., Vincent, D. F., Campbell, K. J., Ceteci, F., Sansom, O. J., Blyth K. and Vousden K. H. (2017). Modulating the therapeutic response of tumours to dietary serine and glycine starvation.  Nature 544: 372.

Mackay, G. M., Zheng, L., van den Broek, N. J. F. and Gottlieb E.  (2015). Chapter Five - Analysis of Cell Metabolism Using LC-MS and Isotope Tracers. Methods in Enzymology. C. M. Metallo, Academic Press. Volume 561: 171-196.

Mass Spectrometry Applications in the Clinical Laboratory (MSACL) 2018 EU – Course Overview (from Nina Denver)

The MSACL Congress was a fantastic meeting providing a forum to discuss analysis of biological samples in the beautiful setting of Salzburg, Austria. We were fortunate enough to be enrolled on one of five short courses offered before the congress.

The meeting itself was held over 3 days from 11-13th September 2018 and brought together many experts from around the world working in both academia and industry. The main aim of the meeting being to accelerate the implementation of mass spectrometry in clinical laboratories. Some of the stand-out talks included Mario Thevis commenting on analytical challenges in sports drug testing by mass spectrometry and the plenary lecture from Cedric Shackleton on his career in steroid analysis. In addition, the troubleshooting posters and meet the expert booths were great for early career researchers showcasing common problems we all face in method development. This included active discussions on how to tackle such issues showing that “negative” results can be shared to help colleagues. There was an emphasis on networking between the vendors and academics throughout this meeting with a great program of events to facilitate this.

In general, this congress displayed the importance of collaboration between individuals and groups in enhancing the development of mass spectrometry methods for multiple clinical applications. Both Emma Hurst and I picked up many tips and interesting tricks that might be applied to our analyses. This meeting runs every year around the same date in Salzburg and we would strongly recommend attending to discuss any troubleshooting issues, communicate your research to experts in the field and to network with people from many backgrounds. If we have the chance, we would definitely go back next year to take an alternative short course and improve our research outputs further.

Mass Spectrometry Applications in the Clinical Laboratory (MSACL) 2018 EU -Course Summary (from Emma Hurst)

This September I attended the MSACL short-course and conference for the first time, after only 18 months of working in the field of mass spectrometry. I leapt into the deep end and signed up for the “expert” level course, the LC-MSMS 301 entitled “Development and validation of quantitative LC-MS/MS assays for use in clinical diagnostics” as its content seemed most relevant to the work I was doing. Fortunately, the leap paid off!

The course was excellent, in terms of both content and presentation. Given in an informal workshop / tutorial style format, the course covered everything in detail that is required for developing and validating a LC-MS assay for clinical use. We began with mass spectrometer tuning and optimisation of parameters, to liquid chromatography optimisation, sample preparation, validation and quality controls, right through to EP and FDA guidelines for assays intend for clinical use. The course went into great detail in each section, outlining suggested experimental set ups for assessing various aspects of the method, with detailed examples were provided to put everything into context. Very helpfully the course contained “Gotcha’s”, sections that highlighted potential problems with method development. Various solutions were put forward in a manner that would not only to help solve the problem but to help understand what the cause of the issue was.

The course was presented by Russell Grant and Brian Rappold (both of LabCorp, USA). Both not only have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field but were energetic and engaging in their presentation. Russell and Brian managed to make an intensive and technical course (that was hard going at times) into a fun and dynamic educational experience. The set up was informal and relaxed, with people engaging in discussions and freely asking questions. Helpfully, each attendee was provided with a booklet containing all of the presentation slides for note taking. There was also the opportunity to chat with both Russell and Brian at breaks and during the “Meet the experts” section of the conference, for more in depth discussion about particular aspects of the course and your own work.

Personally, I found the course very useful, and feel that I benefited greatly in attending at the time I did in terms of my experience level. The course was very in depth, and as I’m currently doing method development and validation it was useful not only to improve on the basic knowledge I already have but to bring forward new ideas. After discussions with other attendees I realised that along with first timers like myself there were people in attendance who were attending for the 2nd and even 3rd time. These people reported that there will always be something new to learn, new ways to improve their assays, and that Russell and Brian are two of the best people to learn from. I’ve gone back to the lab inspired, with a list of new experiments I want to try and a list of ways I can improve old ones. A sure sign of a very successful course.

Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Technical Conference 2018 (from Scott Denham)

The annual IST Technical Conference was held this year in September in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and a number of colleagues from the University of Edinburgh attended. The IST is the Professional Body for Technicians and it represent technicians across a wide range of disciplines from Science and Engineering to Arts, Media and IT.

During the Conference there were impressive Keynote presentations given on the topics of Bionics by Dr Kianoush Nazarpour (University of Newcastle upon Tyne) and Neurology by Prof. Sir Doug Turnbull (University of Newcastle upon Tyne). Both of these presentations focussed on how the research presented would not have been possible without the work of highly skilled technicians.

There were also a large number of interesting workshops covering themes ranging from working at CERN to developing electric motorbikes. I attended a workshop on Plastics and Sustainability. Awareness surrounding this topic is rising partly due to TV programmes such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II where the environmental impact of plastics on our wildlife is shown to be devastating. Dealing with plastics and trying to reduce the amount of plastics used is highly complex. Coming from a laboratory background, I am all too aware of this as finding an alternative to plastic pipette tips is currently not possible. However, careful planning of experiments can reduce the number required.

A second workshop I attended was on the theme of the Technician Commitment. My University of Edinburgh colleagues Jon Kelly (Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences) and Sarah McCafferty (Edinburgh CRF Genetics Core) ran this workshop and they did an excellent job of bringing further awareness to the Technician Commitment and how you can get involved or get your institute involved. They also talked about how to develop your career as a technician and how to obtain professional registration. The number of attendees I talked to who were motivated to look more closely at their career development showed the value of this workshop.

My colleagues Lee Murphy (Edinburgh CRF Genetics Core) and Natalie Homer (Edinburgh CRF Mass Spectrometry Core) presented a poster on the theme of Working Models of Core Facilities in the Edinburgh Medical School. This poster nicely described the different models of three different Core Facilities in the University of Edinburgh Medical School using the Edinburgh CRF Genetics Core, Flow Cytometry (managed by Shonna Johnston), and Edinburgh CRF Mass Spectrometry Core as examples. The poster then related the different models back to the Technician Commitment and the common requirements between them such as highly trained staff, visibility, recognition, and a well thought-out business plan.

IST Conference 2018 was very valuable experience and it was nice to see that there is a movement across Universities to give the skills of technicians more recognition – whether this is by committing to securing their posts or by encouraging their career development.

See you at IST Conference 2019 in Birmingham!

iST Logo (

iST Logo (

Peter Derrick Memorial Symposium ACS August 2018 (from Ruth Andrew)

I recently talked at the Peter Derrick Memorial Symposium, organised as part of the American Chemical Society Autumn meeting in Boston. Professor Derrick died in 2017, having been an innovator in mass spectrometry and supporter of “British MS”, and notably the inventor of the “Magnificent Mass Machine”. He spent much of his career in Warwick, UK, where he established the Institute of Mass Spectrometry and was head of the Department of Chemistry. He latterly worked in New Zealand and was Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Mass Spectrometry. The Symposium in his memory was run by the Energy & fuels division of the ACS and drew from a range of topics in which he had dabbled e.g. clinical chemistry, polymer research, coatings, energy materials, proteomics, drug delivery and instrument design were represented. My own talk related to steroid biochemistry reflected the early days in Warwick Medical School. There were a number of fascinating talks and the theme of instrument innovation came through strongly related to ion mobility, TOF and FTICR. e.g. separation of isomeric glycans and peptides by drift time. The application of swab touch spray ionisation to identify gunshot residues highlighted recent innovations by Bain et al from the Cookes lab in Purdue. There were several talks on the applications of nanomaterials in analytical chemistry. Overall, I was left with a sense of how Derrick’s pioneering work touched our science today through instruments we perhaps take for granted. His mentorship and approachability came across strongly, not least from Professor Sajid Liu, one of his mentees and who organized the event.  

Scottish Metabolomics Network Papers

  • Ternan NG, Moore ND, Smyth D, McDougall GJ, Allwood JW, Verrall S, Gill CIR, Dooley JSG, McMullan G (2018) Increased sporulation underpins adaptation of Clostridium difficile strain 630 to a biologically–relevant faecal environment, with implications for pathogenicity. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 8:16691 -

  • Wong A; Homer N; Dear JW; Choy KW; Doery J; Graudins A (2018) 'Paracetamol metabolite concentrations following low risk overdose treated with an abbreviated 12-h versus 20-h acetylcysteine infusion' Clinical Toxicology (DOI: 10.1080/15563650.2018.1517881)

Awarded PhD studentships and grants

  • The James Hutton Institute’s SeedCorn Grant - Scottish Government ( £20k, October 2018- September 2019)

    • Freitag, S., Hancock, R. , Allwood, J.W. Development of a quantitative method for phytohormone analysis by hyphenated mass spectrometry (HorMS).

  • The James Hutton Institute SeedCorn Grant - Scottish Government (£20k, October 2018- September 2019)

    • Foito, A. Improving the stability of anthocyanins derived from soft fruit waste streams (ImpSta Fruit)

Metabolomics (and other) Conferences and workshops (in date order)


o   Fixed-term contract 2 years, with possibility of prolongation.

o   Full time position (40h/week).

o   Earliest starting date January 1st, 2019.

o   Deadline 31st December 2018.

Thank you

A big thank you to all the contributors to November’s newsletter edition. Also great thanks to Will Allwood and Jeffrey Huang for organising this year’s annual SMN symposium in Dundee. If you have anything you want to add to the next edition of the newsletter, please e-mail




Previous Newsletters

AUGUST 2018 Newsletter

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2018 Advert (from Will Allwood and Jeffery Huang)

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Lab Visit Training Grants for Early Career Researchers 2018

  • Laboratory of the Quarter: Glasgow Polyomics Facility (from Karl Burgess)

  • Core Technologies in Life Sciences (CTLS) Conference 2018 in Ghent (from Natalie Homer)

  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Metabolomics Course (from David Sumpton)

  • Notes from our Sponsors: Chromatographic Deconvolution (from John Moncur, SpectralWorks Ltd.)

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Papers

  • Awarded PhD studentships and grants

  • Upcoming Metabolomics (and other) conferences

  • Webinars

  • Further Announcements

  • Vacancies

  • Acknowledgements

May 2018 Newsletter

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2018 Advert (from Will Allwood and Jeffery Huang)

  • Laboratory of the Quarter: The Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility Mass Spectrometry Core (from Ruth Andrew and Natalie Homer)

  • Metabolomics Workshops at the African Centre for Gene Technologies (from Karl Burgess)

  • A Novel Metabolomics Method Developed by the Dundee Team (from Jeffrey Huang)

  • Symposium on Informatics for Stratified Medicine and Biomarker Discovery (from Naomi Rankin)

  • Technical Managers in Universities Conference (from Natalie Homer)

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Papers

  • Metabolomics (and other) conferences

  • PhD Opportunities

  • Vacancies

  • Acknowledgements

February 2018 Newsletter

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2018 Advert (from Will Allwood and Jeffery Huang)

  • Laboratory of the Quarter: Lipidomics (and Proteomics) Research Facility at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Inverness (from Phil Whitfield)

  • Metabolomics Profiling Forum 2017 Birmingham Overview (from Karl Burgess)

  • Metabolomics Training at EMBL-EBI (Naomi Rankin)

  • Edinburgh CRF MS Core Update (from Ruth Andrew)

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Papers

  • Metabolomics (and other) conferences

  • PhD studentships

  • Vacancies

  • Acknowledgements


November 2017 Newsletter

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2017 Special

    • Overview (Ruth Andrew)

    • Technical Sessions (Ruth Andrew and David Watson)

    • Biology Sessions (Ruth Andrew and Kevin Rattigan)

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2018 Advert (Will Allwood and Jeffery Huang)

  • Laboratory of the Quarter: Hutton Environmental and Biochemical Sciences Group LC- and GC- MS metabolomics, lipidomics and volatile analysis facilities, James Hutton Institute (from Will Allwood)

  • Edinburgh Update (from Natalie Homer)

  • UK Clinical Research Facilities Network (from Natalie Homer)

  • Synthetic Biology Workshop in China (from Karl Burgess)


August 2017 Newsletter

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2017 Update (Naomi Rankin and Gavin Blackburn)

  • Laboratory of the Quarter: Cell Metabolism and Homeostasis Group and Metabolomics/Lipidomics Mass Spectrometry Group at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) (from Andy Finch)

  • Edinburgh Update (from Ruth Andrew and Natalie Homer)

  • UK Clinical Research Facilities Network (from Natalie Homer)

  • EPSRC UK National Mass Spectrometry Facility 30th Anniversary Symposium (from Natalie Homer)

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Papers

  • Metabolomics (and other) conferences

May 2017 Newsletter

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Symposium 2017 Update (Naomi Rankin and Gavin Blackburn)

  • Metabolomics Training in South Africa (Karl Burgess)

  • NMR metabolomics training at EMBL-EBI (Naomi Rankin)

  • Updates from Edinburgh (Ruth Andrew)

  • Updates from the University of Glasgow (Naomi Rankin and Karl Burgess)

  • Papers from the Scottish Metabolomics Network

  • Metabolomics and other conferences

December 2016 Newsletter

Special issue on the Scottish Metabolomics Symposium 2016 in Inverness:

  • Overview (from Karl Burgess and Naomi Rankin)

  • Biology Sessions Overview (from Andrew Finch)

  • Technical Sessions Overview (from Natalie Homer)

September 2016 Newsletter

  • Scottish Metabolomics Network Updates (Karl Burgess)

  • Update on Symposium 2016 (Phil Whitfield)

  • Core expansion at Edinburgh CRF (Ruth Andrew)