Temporary suspension of Intact Mass Analysis

On the 17th April we will retiring the LCT mass spectrometer after many years of faithful service.  This is the instrument that we use to measure the intact mass of proteins.  However on the 29th April we are getting a new Xevo G2 Tof to carry out this analysis.  It will take a week to install and a few days for us to familiarise ourselves with the new instrument, however we hope to get the protein intact mass measurements back up and running by mid May.  If you have any questions then please get in touch.

Biomolecular Sciences Building Fire

The Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Facility is unaffected by the fire in the main BMS building.  The facility is in the adjacent annexe which was thankfully undamaged.  The facility is open and operational.  Deliveries to the BMS building are being diverted to the adjacent Chemistry building.  Please label your package clearly to:

BSRC Mass Spectrometry Facility

Biomolecular Sciences Building

C/O Purdie Chemistry Stores

University of St Andrews

North Haugh

St Andrews

KY16 9ST

Please also email us (ss101, sas28, cb2) to let us know that to expect a delivery so we can search for it if it does go astray.

Here is a picture of the fire, we are so lucky that we are unscathed, but our thoughts are with the many research groups who are affected and have lost so much research and equipment.


Christmas 2018

The University and the Mass Spectrometry facility is open until Friday 21st December.  We will be analysing samples right up until then, although protein identification samples will need to be received on the Thursday to allow time for overnight digestions.  We will reopen on Thursday 3rd January.  Due to staff holidays/part time working there will be a number of days over the next month when there are only one member of the team in the facility, please ensure that you cc all of the facility team into your emails to ensure that there are no delays to your analysis (ss101, cb2, sas28).  Merry Christmas and enjoy your holidays.

Successful grant collaborations

Long term facility collaborator Dr Heidi Fuller of Keele University & RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital, has recently secured funding from Great Ormand Street Hospital.  In collaboration with the BSRC mass spectrometry facility, this project ‘Therapy development for children with motor neuron disease’ will utilise SWATH to identify proteins involved in Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and ultimately identify and screen chemical and biological regulors of the proteins expression.  Congratulations to Heidi on her successful application and we look forward to being involved in this exciting research.

Dr Simon Powis of the University of St Andrews medical school has been awarded a grant from Breast Cancer Now to study tumour associated antigens revelent to immunotherapy. In collaboration with Dr Sally Shirran, funding was secured to identify the EV MHC class peptidome from breast cancer cells utilising nLCMSMS.



Summer conferences 2018

Both Proteomics Methods Forum in Manchester, and the British Mass Spectrometry Society conference in Cambridge were interesting, vibrant meetings this year.  BMSS was full of interesting talks and there were lots of opportunies to talk to vendors and discuss our upcoming mass spec needs.  PMF was it’s usual mix of talks and dicussions with the opportunity to catch up with mass spec users who are at the ‘coal face’ of proteomics.  Next year PMF is in St Andrews, more on that later!

External Sample Submission

We are a busy service and we often receive multiple packages of samples in a day from external users and collaborators.  A sample submission form included with the samples delivery is vital for us to be able to coordinate the samples received with the user and the analysis required. Clearly labelled tubes, with name and identifier – for instance Sally16May-lowMWt or SLS/16-5/L – is important.  A unique identifier will also aid you in finding your results in the Mascot search log.


Increases in service charges

Having reviewed our incoming and outgoings we have concluded that we are going to have to increase the mass spec charges for the BSRC mass spec and proteomics facility.  We haven’t increased charges since 2011, and in some cases 2007.  The new charges are here: pricing 2018_1

If you have any quearies about the new charges then please get in touch with us.  The new charges will be implemented from 1st April, however for very large experiments that you have already discussed with us, costed and written into grants then there will be a period of overlap.

Proteomics Methods Forum

Sally recently attended a very interesting meeting/mini conference, the proteomics methods forum (PMF) .  http://www.proteomicsmethodsforum.org.uk  This year it was in Oxford, and hosted by Dr Roman Fischer.  It was a great meeting, with many interesting talks which included both the highs and lows of working with proteomics and mass spectrometers.  The meeting focuses on having plenty of time to mingle and talk to other researchers, and as the majority of the attendees are actual mass spec users, there is always a wealth of tips and advice to pick up.  As the meeting is small and generously supported by many vendors, the meeting is free.  We would definitely recommend it.

Inspiring the next generation

The new public engagement officer at St Andrews, Dr Mhairi Stewart, has been inspiring us all to share Science in the local community.  In the last 3 months we have taken time away from the mass specs to talk to school children

Oct2016 – Sally visited Dundee Science Centre to talk to local 15 year olds about her career in science.  In a speed dating type scenario groups of teenagers spent 5 minutes with each scientist asking questions about their jobs, their likes and dislikes, how they got there, would they choose it again with hindsight, even their salary!  A good time was had by all, and hopefully the pupils were enthused about a career in science, Sally certainly came back reinspired about choosing a career in science.

Nov2016 – Sally and Catherine visited class 4A at Castlehill Primary School to help do a science experiment linked to their Autumn project.  Autumn leaves of different colours were gathered, mashed up in a mortar and pestle with sand and IPA, and the extract painted in a line on a TLC plate.  The plates were run in jam jars with water as the eluent.  Lovely colours from the leaves were separated.  Further TLC plates were carried out using water based felt tip pens, separating a range of colours into their constituents.  The colour theme was extended to looking at white light separated in a prism, the kids loved making rainbows.

Dec2016 – Sally was invited back to Castlehill for a curriculum based talk on science jobs.  P7A and P7B’s project was living things and they were keen to talk to a real scientist.  Sally described her job briefly, however to make it more wide ranging and easy for 11year olds to grasp a game was set up where the pupils would name a job and Sally would link it back to science.  A lively 30 minute discussion ensued with Sally completely improvising.  A lot of quick thinking was required.  Examples of a few of many jobs that the pupils suggested were:

  • Footballer – requires knowledge of physiology and nutrition to be in peak physical condition along with technology advances in kit design utilising chemistry and the physics of resistance
  • Jeweller – understanding of precious metals and gemstones, how colour of stones can be effected by elements, and why gold and silver tarnish when in close proximity
  • Postman – this was a tricky one, but lasers are used in scanning the parcels during tracking, the postman himself needs a good waterproof which has been designed to keep the water out, but let his body breath
  • Nurse – needs knowledge of how the body and dispensing correct dosage of medicine.
  • Shop keeper – uses a lot of psychology into buying habits and product placement in store.  Also store design requires an understanding of heat and air movement so it is not cold and draft.
  • Hairdresser – uses all the beauty products and dyes developed by chemists, and also needs to understand the products themselves and which ones not to mix otherwise the clients hair might go green or fall out.

These were just a few of the jobs suggested, and it turns out all jobs can be linked back to science.  The kids had a great time.  Sally got a massive adrenaline rush from so much quick thinking, but a great time was had by all and a lovely thank you card was received.