4th Grass Roots educational event report
Dylan O’Flynn, MSc student
I am a first-year research MSc student at Dublin City University who is looking to transfer into a PhD. I am currently researching effect based biomonitoring of pharmaceuticals in Irish surface water and is under the supervision of Dr. Blanaid White, Prof. Fiona Regan and Dr. Jenny Lawler. To receive a bursary for attending the 4th educational event of Grass Roots event would afford me the opportunity to re-appropriate the funds to the further dissemination of my project to future conferences. Spending four days to developing my both my knowledge and understanding with such a prestigious society has genuinely been invigorating. Even though some of the topics discussed were not currently relevant to my project I am positive that my broader knowledge of chromatography will prove to be most attractive for potential employers. Networking with other chromatographers and discussing issues faced within my research topic has been an invaluable and would have otherwise been extremely difficult to obtain. The twenty-hour training session has been compartmentalised into smaller digestible lectures. These lectures were all led by specialists with an extensive career in chromatographic bio-separations. The theoretical and practical applications covered for RPLC, HIC, SEC, IEX and HILLIC were the most relevant to my project however the lecture on Protein A analysis was utmost interesting.
My Project is very heavily dependent on the application of HPLC with MS detection to identify and characterise pharmaceuticals, transform product and metabolites. The first sessions covered by Dr. Anthony Edge provided a holistic view of the fundamentals of chromatography. This session focused on essential topics such as maintaining column health, the impact of environmental factors on bio-separations (e.g. Pka, pH, polarity, Hydrophobicity, Log D and Log P) and the effect that these factors have on a chromatogram. Even though I have previous experience with LC, it was a good brush up on what I know and allowed everyone attending to have a baseline to start from. Dr. Anthony Edge additionally tried to make each lesson as interactive and engaging as possible. This allowed everyone to introduce themselves and broke the awkwardness of meeting people for the first time.
As this course looks over a broad range of topics, it caters to a wide variety of people from entirely different backgrounds. Even though some particular lectures were beyond the scope of my project, I still have accumulated an abundance of notes, which I am still revising and applying to my project. A lecture conducted by Dr. Ken Cook, a bio-separations manager, has brought me up to date on many basic concepts such as troubleshooting methods and common pitfalls faced in chromatography. Furthermore, the description of how to correctly perform salt, pH and temperature gradients will prove to be extremely important for my project in the coming years. Lectures conducted by the separation scientist Dr. Paul Ferguson has gone into detail into legislative requirements and Critical Quality Attributes. This is of particular interest as I hope to use the definition of non-toxic, stability, reproducibility and efficacy to get a better understanding of how my analytes of interest are made and their potential life-cycle.
Although the primary purpose of this crash course is to help people gain a better understanding of chromatography, this course allows you to bond with your fellow chromatographers during a hiking session around the utterly stunning Shropshire hills (figure 1). Even though we predominantly looked to the lectures for advice the hikes proved to be almost as informative as the lectures. The one on one conversations with other attendees such as Muhammad, Alexander, Mariachiara and Farez allowed helped me to overcome issues which I have been facing while helping others with issues that they were facing.
The vibrant town of Church Stretton is packed with coffee shops, bakery has and bars which use locally sourced produce. Furthermore, accommodation in Longmynd House has been beyond exceptional. The staff, food and general atmosphere were vibrant and conducive to learning. Like myself and other attendees I have talked with the majority of people found out about the Grass Roots events to recommendation from previous participants. This shows the high standard that this course offers.
The 4th Grass Roots educational event has been an absolute success in my view and I will hope to attend many other ChromSoc events in the future. The degree of teaching and support was beyond exceptional. I would recommend this course to both new and experienced researchers who would like to gain a better grasp of all aspects related to chromatography. Finally, I would like to thank Tony Edge, Ken Cook, Tony Taylor and Paul Ferguson for their never ending enthusiasm. They helped me to understand complex topics while keeping me both engaged and interested.