On Feb 14, 2020 our LC-MS Method Validation web course (MOOC) finished successfully!
Altogether 515 (426 in 2019, 424 in 2018, 303 in 2017) people were registered from 77 (70 in 2019, 71 in 2018, 61 in 2017) countries. 267 (227 in 2019, 236 in 2018, 224 in 2017) participants actually started the course (i.e. tried at least one graded test at least once) and out of them 161 (125 in 2019, 159 in 2018, 168 in 2017) successfully completed the course. The overall completion rate was 31% (29% in 2019, 37% in 2018, 55% in 2017). The completion rate of participants who actually started the studies was 60% (55% in 2019, 67% in 2018, 75% in 2017). It is pleasant to see that the completion rate of the of the course seems to be stabilizing (as opposed to the clearly negative trend observed last year) and in fact more than 50% completion rate of people who actually started the course can be considered very good by any measure.

As has been the usual case with our online courses, the questions from the participants were often very interesting, often addressed things that are really important to analysts in their everyday work. Such discussions made teaching this course a great experience also for us, the teachers!

We want to thank all participants for helping to make this course a success!

We plan to repeat this course again in Autumn-Winter 2020-2021.

Besides XRF, the two important topics at the 2020 Winter school were Capillary electrophoresis, coupled with mass spectrometry (CE-MS), taught by prof. Christian Neusüß, and practitioner’s view on working in a GMP/GLP compliant facility, taught by Dr. Masahiko Shimmo.

Although the current world of separation science is heavily dominated by chromatography (and mass spectrometry), CE (and CE-MS) does have its place and occasionally can provide separation selectivity and efficiency, which no chromatographic technique can match. This was explained by prof. Neusüß (photo on the left), using a number of practical examples.

In any GMP/GLP compliant facility – such as e.g. chemical and pharmaceutical plants – this compliance to a large extent determines the whole way of working and imposes several obligations on personnel. You can be a skillful chemist with very good knowledge and yet, if you do not respect the requirements your company is in trouble. Dr. Shimmo (photo on the right) explained the practical aspects on the example of his company – Cambrex Tallinn, a small biopharma company in Estonia.

The last educational activity of the Winter school was the session where student teams presented their findings from the Tuesday’s work with hand-held XRF spectrometers. Although measuring with these devices is seemingly straightforward, the physics behind is far form simple and, as was demonstrated during the session, quite some knowledge is needed to interpret the obtained results. (Photo on the left: Student team no 5 presenting their XRF results)

We hope that all participants enjoyed the Winter School and look forward to the next one, in Sweden, 2021!

On Jan 20, 2020, the fifth Winter School of the EACH programme started in Viimsi (Estonia). Altogether 35 students from more than 19 countries participate.
The Winter School offers a diverse set of activities to the participants. There are lectures-seminars on advanced analytical chemistry topics (industrial analysis, capillary electrophoresis and mass spectrometry, working in a GLP/GMP accredited faclity) by top experts, hands-on practical work and entertainment. The intense working is counterbalanced by social activities – swimmming pool, sauna, etc.
In the industry session on the first Winter school day Dr. Noémie Caillol from EACH associated partner Axel’One gave an overview of the specifics of industrial analysis and process control.

Traditionally an important activity in the Winter school is selecting first year students to study tracks. In order to give one more piece of information what the study tracks are about, there was a session of presentations on the first day by second year students on their master thesis topics (photo on the right). All the students were assigned to study tracks and it was possible to assign all of them to their first study track choice!

An exciting session in the Winter school is “X-Ray Fluorescence lab” featuring portable XRF spectrometers (photo bottom left). Students have three different spectrometers with which they have to solve three different tasks, related to toxic element content in electronic waste, archaeological artifacts and elemental composition of minerals. The session is led by experts from UT (Dr Riho Mõtlep and Dr Ragnar Saage) and the associated EACH partner Estonian Environmental Research Centre (Dr Riin Rebane).

Photos: Group photo (top left); Helmi and João presenting why the Åbo/Turku study track is worth considering (right); Dr Riho Mõtlep explaining the portable XRF practicalities in the hands-on XRF session (bottom left).

The 2020 edition of the web course (MOOC) Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis will be running during Mar 24 – May 5, 2020. Registration is open!

The full course material (as well as the registration link) is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises) and examples. Almost all areas of analytical chemistry are addressed, ranging from simple titrations to sophisticated instrumental analysis, such as determining pesticide residues by LC-MS.

In order to pass the course, the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get higher than 50% score in every graded test. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform. Participants who successfully pass the course will get a certificate from University of Tartu. A digital certificate of completion is free of charge. A certificate of completion on paper can be requested for a fee of 60 euros.

You are welcome to distribute this message to potentially interested people!

 

Over the summer of 2019, the third intake of EACH students successfully graduated from the programme (defence at UU, defence at AAU, defence at UCBL ).

Only a few months later the majority of the recent graduates – 13 out of 18 in total – have engaged themselves with new challenges and are pursuing their careers in either the world of work or academic field.

Below is a retrospective from some of our most recent graduates:

Diana Visanu (UU study-track), currently working at the R&D department of Camurus – a Swedish pharmaceutical company:

The EACH programme has been a wonderful learning experience all around and has provided me with all the necessary skills to kick-start my career. The selection of courses offers a very good balance between practical work and in-depth theory (the LC-MS course taught at the University of Tartu has been particularly useful for me), which provides graduates with an attractive and well-rounded candidate profile resulting in excellent employment prospects in the industry, as well as a great foundation to build upon should they choose to pursue a PhD. In my opinion, one of the great advantages of the EACH programme is the great variety of competences that it offers. As an EACH student, you get a very solid general analytical chemistry and metrology foundation at the University of Tartu and then, for your second year, you have the opportunity to choose between three excellent study tracks in three different countries based on your interests and career goals. The EACH programme has also given me invaluable opportunities to develop my soft skills, experience different cultures and make friends from all over the world.

I was able to find a job in R&D at Camurus, a rapidly growing Swedish pharmaceutical company, within 2 months of graduating from the EACH programme. I can say with confidence that the practical and theoretical skills acquired during my master’s studies have allowed me to successfully take on my current tasks in running bioanalytical and pharmaceutical analyses, as well as in method development and qualification.

Nikola Obradovic (AAU study-track), currently a PhD student at ETH Zürich, Switzerland:

Acknowledging it’s clever abbreviation, EACH, thisNikola Obradovic master’s programme is more suited to be called UNIQUE. Unique in many ways. The EACH journey starts at the University of Tartu, a sanctum of knowledge since 1632. To this day, I consider this university to be one of the most student friendly educational institutions I’ve ever come across. The curriculum, which is constantly following the developments of analytical chemistry worldwide, is very involving and diverse. Through many independent and team-based assignments, which are taught by leading experts in the field and are often of case study type, the EACH student gets all the desired tools of the analytical chemistry craft that our modern world requires. And, by shifting the narrative from hardcore to a more socially involved science, this programme educates the future leaders in the field, with comprehensive professional networks. What is more, the second year of the EACH programme is dedicated to the student’s desired future “specialization”, pursued at three revered European universities. But, this is not to be confused with narrowing the scope of someone’s knowledge. On the contrary. It just boosts the EACH student’s grasp of an already diverse field of analytical techniques, from simple optical spectroscopy and electrochemistry, to more advanced techniques such as liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and biosensors.

The hardest piece of evidence I can offer to support these claims is my own story. For my second EACH year, I decided to dig deep into the world of applied electrochemistry and electrochemical sensors at Åbo Akademi University. And, even before graduating from EACH, I was offered to do a PhD in the field of Redox Biogeochemistry at one of the most prestigious universities in the world – ETH Zürich. Today, I could not imagine my work without being fully operational in using different analytical techniques, which I greatly owe to the EACH programme.

Daniela Alejandra Pinto Perez (UCBL study-track), currently working as a Consulting Engineer at B-Hive engineering, France:

Daniela Pinto

The EACH program was an amazing experience for me, as it broadened my horizon professionally and personally. The last two years I studied and worked with people from all over the world. This cultural diversity made me a more open-minded person, it broadened my point of view and improved my communication skills. It was very enriching traveling and meeting new people.

As part of this master I got specific knowledge of metrology, industrial analysis and quality systems. I developed several soft skills, like project and time management, creativity and problem solving; skills that I am sure will contribute to my professional growth. I also had the opportunity to learn French at university (basic level in Tartu, intermediate in Lyon); it was not easy in the beginning, but all the effort worth it.

All this helped me to get a job in France as Consulting Engineer at B-Hive engineering, and I am currently working in a project at Elanco, a pharmaceutical laboratory.

The study track of this program made me a versatile professional, allowing me to work in different areas, such as Analytical Service, Quality Control, Quality Assurance and production.

Daniel Papp (UU study-track), currently a PhD student at Lund University, Sweden:

EACH contributed to my career in two main ways. First, many doors opened for me, I have acquired a quite wide network across the world consisting of former classmates, project groupmates or teachers. This is a very big advantage when looking for positions. The other big contribution is equipping me with that specific knowledge which is usually left out from the curricula of “normal” analytical chemistry courses, for example, metrology aspects of chemical analysis. This is something that many people do not know, but is still highly demanded if we want to perform an analysis correctly.

We wish all the graduates of the EACH programme all the best!

On Tuesday, November 26, 2019 the web course LC-MS Method Validation was launched for the fourth time as a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). There are 511 registered participants (the largest number ever in this course) from 77 countries, ranging from Guatemala to Azerbaijan and from Finland to Sudan. Image on the left shows the countries where the participants come from.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using LC-MS as technique. The course introduces the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of validation, covers the most important method performance parameters and ways of estimating them. The LC-MS validation course is delivered by a team of 8 teachers, each with their own specific area of competence. This way it is expected to offer the best possible knowledge in all the different subtopics of analytical method validation.

The full set of course materials is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/lcms_method_validation/. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged calculation exercises). In order to pass the course the registered participants have to take all tests and get higher than 50% score from each of them. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform. Participants who successfully pass the course will get a certificate from the University of Tartu.

 

EACH_Erasmus_Mundus_JMDWe are glad to announce that the 2020 admission is officially open to the 6th intake of the Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme!

This international two-year joint master degree programme educates specialists in analytical chemistry well qualified to work in industry (food, pharmaceutical, materials, energy, etc), chemical analysis laboratories (environment, food, health, etc) and research (developing new analysis devices or new analysis methods) worldwide. EACH provides knowledge and practical skills in both fundamental and applied aspects of modern analytical chemistry. Practical internship placement in industry or laboratories is an important part of the training.

The programme is suitable both for students who have finished their bachelor’s studies and want to continue in master’s studies, as well as for working analytical chemistry practitioners wishing to spend couple of years to bring their knowledge and skills to a new level.

The programme features generous scholarships as detailed in the Scholarships and tuition fees page.

The programme is taught by four universities: University of Tartu (UT, coordinator), Estonia; Uppsala University (UU), Sweden; University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL), France; and Åbo Akademi University (AAU), Finland. The language of instruction is English, but students will also learn to communicate in one of the languages of the countries involved.

The online application form, admission requirements, deadlines, list of necessary documents, instructions/explanations, as well as contact data for questions are available from the EACH Admission information page.

We wish you all the success in applying!

 

 

Validation_of_LC-MS_Methods_Online_CourseWe are glad to announce that the fourth edition of the online course LC-MS Method Validation is open for registration at the address https://sisu.ut.ee/lcms_method_validation/ !

The course will be offered as a Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) during Nov 26, 2019 – Feb 07, 2020.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) as technique, mostly (but not limited to) using the electrospray (ESI) ion source. The course will also be of interest to chromatographists using other detector types. The course introduces the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of validation, covers the most important method performance parameters and ways of estimating them. The course is largely based on the recently published two-part tutorial review:

The course materials include lectures, practical exercises and numerous tests for self-testing. In spite of being introductory, the course intends to offer sufficient knowledge and mathematical skills for carrying out validation for most of the common LC-MS analyses in routine laboratory environment. The real-life analysis situations for which there are either examples or self-tests are for example determination of pesticides in fruits and vegetables, perfluoroalkyl acids in water, antibiotics in blood serum, glyphosate and AMPA in surface water, etc. It is important to stress, that for successfully carrying out validation, practical experience – both in analytical chemistry as such and also specifically in validation – is crucial and this can be acquired only through hands-on laboratory work, which cannot be offered via an on-line course.

Participation in the course is free of charge. Receiving digital certificate (in the case of successful completion) is also free of charge. Printed certificate (to be sent by post) is available for a fee of 60 EUR. Registration is possible until the start of the course. The course material is available from the above address all the time and can be used via web by anyone who wishes to improve the knowledge and skills in analytical method validation (especially when using LC-ESI-MS).

 

In a recent minireview, published in Eur. J. Org. Chem. an important part of our group’s acid-base chemistry research has been summarized: the pKa values of bases (pKaH values) determined over the years in acetonitrile have now been rigorously united into a single scale, whereby all the involved ΔpKa values have been considered for deriving the absolute pKaH values of the bases involved. Altogether 279 basic compounds are included in the scale from all major groups of organic bases (amines, pyridines, imidazoles, anilines, amidines, guanidines, phosphazenes, etc) and are linked with altogether 682 ΔpKa measurements. The full scale can be downloaded by clicking on the picture on the left.

The minireview also presents possibilities to predict the pKa values of bases in other media – namely water, DMSO and THF – on the basis of MeCN pKaH values. It is expected that this minireview will be a useful tool for future researchers who need pKa values of bases in nonaqueous solvents for planning their studies or for interpreting research results.

 

On September 5, 2019 the master thesis defence took place at University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL). Mark Justine Zapanta, Giorgi Tsiklauri, Daniela Pinto Pérez, Yijiao Yao, Jovana Petrovic, Irina Diane Castaños and Nur Eka Fitriani (left to right in the first row on the photo) successfully defended their master’s theses!

Congratulations to all of you!

As is typical for the Lyon study track, the topics of the theses were very practical and linked to industrial interests – applications of spectroscopy and advanced modeling in industrial process control, spectroscopic mapping, portable instruments, etc. Most of the thesis projects were actually carried out at industry. This choice of topics and the long-standing industrial collaboration are rooted in the world-famous industrial analysis and control study direction at UCBL.