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COST workshop on Emerging Technologies and Multimodal Imaging, part I: Lectures and talks

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Topic: Science  |  Series: My Journey to PhD
Vienna City Hall and Tram to Prater at nightI was back at AMOLF’s labs for only one full week after getting back from Switzerland when on Tuesday evening (5th Feb) I was packing my suitcase for yet another trip. I was invited to give a small talk on my STSM on a COST workshop, taking place at Technische Universität Wien in Vienna, Austria. 

The workshop was entitled “Emerging Technologies and Multimodal Imaging” and owing to the fact the meeting was devoted to COST action BM1104, the centerpoint was Mass Spectrometry Imaging. The programme was scheduled from 6th to 8th February.

The whole meeting was held for three days. I found myself being basically surrounded by the “big bosses” aka group leaders from MS imaging groups within Europe. Indeed, out of the nearly 50 participants, there were only a couple of PhD students or postdocs. And those few students were actually all invited from the same reason: to report on the Short Term Scientific Mission, which they realized in one of the European MS imaging labs during last year.

The programme of the first day, that is Wednesday, consisted mainly of debates and discussions on organization of the co-operation among of the MSI groups and on hot-topics in MS imaging. Similarly as most of the students, I did not take part in those disputations and my participation on the workshop began on Thursday morning.

Thursday was full of lectures. Six of them were given by the STSMers. I was talking about the quantification in MSI. I briefly introduced the benefits and drawbacks of quantitative MSI, the principle of qMSI focusing on calibration curve and on internal standard use and the general workflow of qMSI method development. I presented couple of examples of  whole body tissue section experiments and finally also introduced the results of a quantification project concerning a hypoxia marker in breast cancer tumors. A short overview can be found in a recent post from Novartis campus. I enjoyed the lecture as I do most of them.

Other STSM talks were devoted to analysis of cocaine in hair using MALDI SRM and TOF-SIMS; to comparison of heat and snap freezing stabilization of tissue for analysis of proteins; to improvement of detection of high-molecular weight proteins using MALDI; and to sample preparation and MALDI analysis of brain and atherosclerotic samples. Pretty cool topics, aren’t they? :-)

For the afternoon, couple of more lectures were planned. To reveal the secrets of another imaging modalities to the mass spectrometry imagists, speakers on 3-D ultramicroscopy, on single molecular spectroscopy and on comparison of MSI and CARS in developmental biology were listed in the programme. To make the list of the lectures complete: we also filled our brains with more detailed information on LA-ICP MS, on AP-SMALDI and on cancer diagnostics using MSI.

After the full day of lectures, we were all somewhat tired, so the combination of a glass of wine and a good home-made food was an ideal option for carnivorous scientists to be wired back and to start discussions over again. The evening was at the end really long. Surprisingly enough, I found myself listening to a lively debate on ideal protein-identification strategies in an Austrian music club downtown in Vienna at 2 a.m. And I was once again demonstrated that great science and alcohol somewhat belong together as well as good writing is sometimes well inspired by drinking. :-) Little exaggerating here maybe... but there is something about it.

Here is where I stop for now. Not for the reason I would not remember what happened on the following day… I am overtaking the successful strategy of Peter Jackson who also happened to divide a nice short story into three blockbusters. I will tell you about the most interesting points of the round-table discussions on emerging technologies and multimodal imaging in next post. :-)

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