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Course in molecular analysis and mass spectrometry

NVD will organize the course “Molecular analysis: Mass spectrometry and surrounding techniques” (course number 3603.12) in September –October 2012. The course is at Master and PhD level.

Mass spectrometry is a versatile and sensitive technique to analyze molecules of different kinds. Mass spectrometry has been used in the large screening for CTD in the Faroese population during the last few years, but the actual analyses of the blood samples were performed in Germany. Mass spectrometry is also used in the surveys of pollutants in humans, in pilot whale, or in the environment. These pollutants have abbreviations such as PCB, dioxin, POPs, PFOA and PFOS. The latter compounds belong to the class of compounds that Pál Weihe and collaborators recently found to decrease the efficiency of vaccinations (Grandjean P et al., Serum vaccine antibody concentrations in children exposed to perfluorinated compounds. JAMA 307, 391-397, 2012). Several Faroese institutions are now joining forces, trying to gain support for the needed investments for performing the analyses for some of these compounds here in the Faroe Islands, see this link. Mass spectrometry can further be used to analyze the constitution and quality of marine fatty acids, the presence of toxins in algal bloomings, it can identify proteins, etc. Thus, mass spectrometry is a valuable tool in many molecular questions, and a tool of considerable interest for Faroese research and health.

The planned start of the course is 17th September and with examination 1st November (4 h written examination). Lectures will be on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, including the autumn holiday week 8th to 12th October (in other words, there will not be an autumn holiday). The course will give 7.5 ECTS credits. The course will go through how a mass spectrometer works, how to interpret mass spectra with many practical examples, and introduce a number of techniques commonly used together with mass spectrometry. Each student must write an obligatory essay about use of mass spectrometry in their field of work, and what they potentially would be interested in using mass spectrometry for. There will be extensive laboratory demonstrations and practices. It will be possible for the student to bring a sample of interest, and we will try to analyze it. The sample must be ready for the mass spectrometry analysis, and must therefore be worked up in the home laboratory of the student. 

Professor Svein-Ole Mikalsen, NVD, is the main teacher and responsible for the course. Associate professor Hóraldur Joensen, NVD, and PhD student Ása Jacobsen, Fiskaaling, will also contribute with lectures and laboratory demonstrations. Questions can be directed to Svein-Ole Mikalsen at sveinom@setur.fo. Please note that due to the summer holidays, the questions may not be answered before 15th August.

The textbooks are:

Edmond de Hoffmann and Vincent Stroobant: Mass Spectrometry – Principles and Applications, 3rd ed. Wiley 2007, ISBN 978-0-470-03311-1


Ingvar Eidhammer, Kristian Flikka, Lennart Martens, Svein-Ole Mikalsen: Computational Methods for Mass Spectrometry Proteomics. Wiley 2007, ISBN 978-0-470-51297-5.

Recommended supplementary textbook is: Jürgen H Gross: Mass Spectrometry – A Textbook, 2nd ed. Springer 2011, ISBN 978-3-642-10709-2.

The number of participants will be limited to 4 due to limited laboratory facilities. The participant should have solid background in knowledge of molecules and molecular cell biology, like: 3512 General and inorganic chemistry, 3513 Organic chemistry, 3514 Biochemistry, 3518 Cell biology, 3516 Genetics and molecular biology and 3517 Microbiology; or equivalent courses. Experience in laboratory work exceeding the mentioned courses is strongly recommended. The application form is found here. Application deadline is 20th August. The application is sent to NVD.

The mass spectrometry facility at NVD is supported by grant (“førleikamenning”) from Statoil. The support is gratefully acknowledged.