News & Views

LMN Meeting – April 2018 – The Francis Crick Institute

On 10th April 2018, over 75 researchers met at The Francis Crick Institute for the London Metabolomics Network (LMN) meeting.

Themed around key advances in chromatography, participants were treated to both cutting-edge research and historical perspectives, which served to remind all that the advanced techniques used today in the lab still obey fundamental chemical principles.

Joost Brandsma (University of Southampton) presented a concise overview of supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC), alongside some exemplars from the world of lipidomics, showing how, with appropriate application and optimisation, this technique can deliver exquisite separations of complex biological samples. Tom Miller (King’s College London) gave a detailed account of how he and his colleagues have been applying neural network based approaches to analytical parameter optimisation, and how these have improved data recovery in recent metabolomics studies. Anisha Wijeyesekara (University of Reading) described an ongoing nutritional study in which combined multiple analytical platforms have been used to investigate critical illness in children. Pim Leonards (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) took the opportunity to demonstrate how the complexity of the metabolome can be addressed through a combination of analytical platforms, and use of multidimensional chromatographic separations

Prof. David Perrett (Barts Medical School) made the final research presentation of the day with a historical perspective on the development of the analytical and metabolic science that underpins much of what we know about the metabolome and how we measure it today. Highlights of this fascinating talk included hearing about the development of bespoke instrumentation that was used for the discovery of many inborn errors of metabolism, and the use of historical props, including the reams of graph paper used for early mass spec traces and the only method of quantification estimation! This certainly made all present feel very appreciative of the advancement in computer science and digital data recording made in the last few decades!

The LMN meeting also coincided with the presentation ceremony of an award made by the American Chemical Society to The Francis Crick Institute for the substantial contributions made to the development and application of gas-liquid chromatography in the analytical sciences. Developed in the 1950s by A. T. James and A. J. P. Martin at the National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill, London (one of the legacy institutes that merged to form the Crick as we know it today), this made for a fitting example of what can be achieved through persistence and innovation.

A social and networking session followed the main event, with much discussion about the next LMN event, and opportunities for the future.

The organisers wish to thank Shimadzu for sponsoring the event.

For more information on the LMN, visit www.londonmetabolomicsnetwork.com or email londonmetabolomicsnetwork@gmail.com