Direct experience in applied mass spectrometry

Can you provide an overview of the mass spectrometer?

Mass spectrometry is a technique that allows us to measure the mass of molecules and individual molecules. The mass spectrometer instrument generates an isotopic signature, a type of fingerprint, that can identify compounds and their structure. This means that you can take complex samples, such as blood, soil, hot dogs, a plant, or just about anything, and discover what it’s made of at the molecular level.

This may sound relatively simple, but when you start applying this technique to scientific questions in many different fields, it turns out to be very powerful.

How has this field grown over the past decade?

Mass spectrometry has reached a point where it is powerful enough to unlock new capabilities in many areas. For example, NASA’s new Artemis space program has a mass spectrometer, MSolo, that can operate in space and will be used to identify molecules on the moon’s surface. The new innovative devices are sensitive enough to detect biomarkers in a blood spot on a postcard that can be mailed to the lab so that patients living away from the hospital can be monitored remotely. Through computational breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the big data generated by massive mass spectrometry screens can reveal new drug targets for treating diseases. The field continues to grow rapidly, which opens up new opportunities for the development of areas of discovery.

In which fields of science is mass spectrometry most useful?

Mass spectrometry is most useful in biomedical research. Mass spectrometry is critical in many fields, such as environmental sciences, food sciences, forensic sciences, pharmaceuticals, and even newer, fast-growing fields such as the cannabis industry.

Mass spectrometry is allowing scientists in these regions to dig deeper than ever before in a sample to determine soil contaminants, the optimal strain of cocoa, the presence of a drug in a drink, or the structure of a new drug. It is not about the most useful area and more about the wide range of areas that training in mass spectrometry can unlock.

Image Credit: Loyola University Chicago

Can you explain what are the objectives of the MSc in Clinical and Applied Mass Spectrometry (CAMS MS) program?

As the use of mass spectrometers continues to grow, many labs, industries, and hospitals have realized that while it is easy to purchase a mass spectrometer, it is difficult to find someone to operate it. Conventional training models largely cause this deficiency in the mass spectrometer. Scientists were only able to learn about mass spectrometry by earning a Ph.D. In a comprehensive spec lab or on-the-job learning. These options are time consuming and keep the number of scientists trained in mass spectrometry very low.

CAMS-MS aims to train students in one year how a mass spectrometer works, how it is used, and how to design a mass spectrometer experiment. Students will obtain both a theoretical background and technical practical experience. The goal is that after one year in the CAMS program, students will be able to be placed in positions of group specification.

Who is this program targeting?

CAMS is a flexible and hybrid software. Tutorials are interactive online courses that students can work on in their schedules. These classes include virtual interaction with faculty members on student terms. The two hands-on lab experiences are three-week intensive courses with multiple scheduling options throughout the year.

Thus, the CAS is designed for just about anyone, including undergraduates looking to specialize in a high-paying scientific career, industry veterans hoping to move into an exciting and growing field, and international students who want to take advantage of industry opportunities. Global, and many others.

How special is this course, and what does other Master’s programs offer and not?

This is the first program to offer training specifically in mass spectrometry. Other MS programs tend to offer a broader education in biotechnology or similar fields. These are great options, but they fail to prepare their students for a specific technical field such as mass spectrometry. Furthermore, because MS technology is used in many areas of science and industry, our specialized program provides many opportunities for students to pursue.

Why is this the time for a program like this?

Scientists trained in mass spectrometry are in great demand. Technology and instrumentation are becoming mature, and many fields have recognized the power and potential of mass spectrometry. Thus, the timing of a CAM system is ideal for two reasons. First, the demand for trained mass spectrometry scientists means that our program can prepare students for an immediate career. Second, mass spec technology is a cutting edge approach to science, and Frontiers is an exciting place to be.

Can you explain some of the benefits that graduates will get from the course?

This is not just a technical degree program; This is an academic master’s degree. Students will learn foundational physics and chemistry to understand how and why mass spectrometry works. In addition, students will participate in a capstone project with a faculty teacher and clinical collaborator to develop their cutting edge project.

They will also gain extensive hands-on experience for a small group using the latest mass spectrometry equipment available. They will prepare the samples, run the instrument, analyze the data, and interpret the results. This combination of coursework, capstone, and hands-on experience will prepare students for the exciting field of mass spectrometry.

Can you describe some practical experiences through the operational training offered by the program?

Students will be able to work directly with the latest mass spectrometry equipment available on the market. We offer class sizes of only five students so that each receives individual training and opportunities to conduct mass spectrometry experiments from start to finish. Students will also learn troubleshooting and minor repairs to mass specs. Led by a mass spectrometer specialist with over a quarter-century of experience, these flexible, hands-on training experiences will directly prepare students for their future careers in the field.

Why do science graduates and those already working in scientific research need this boost to further their careers in mass spectrometry?

Modern science is almost too complex. To make important discoveries, scientists must work as part of a team, with each member being an expert on one part of the project. Thus, specialization and the development of expertise are crucial for contemporary scholars. Furthermore, mass spectrometry is a rapidly growing field that offers evolving opportunities. CAMS is an excellent opportunity for existing scholars to add new technologies to their skill set and open up new fields and industries to work in.

What are some of the challenges facing the field of mass spectrometry, and how can this course help graduates face and overcome them?

The biggest challenge is the lack of scientists trained in mass spectrometry, which this program was developed to address. Moreover, as mass spectrometry becomes more powerful, data sets become more voluminous. Thus, how to extract knowledge and insight from “big data” is an urgent challenge in the field. CAS students will receive training in the analysis and bioinformatics of mass spectrometry. They will be key players on teams developing the next generation of artificial intelligence systems and machine learning platforms to analyze these data sets.

What are your current research projects?

My lab uses mass spectrometry to understand what happens to patients with cardiovascular disease at the molecular level. Technology is revealing the mechanisms that lead to heart failure, diabetes, arrhythmia and other diseases that are very common in the world. Using this information, we can discover new drug targets that can help reduce mortality.

Can you describe how mass spectrometry has shaped your research?

For my research, the most exciting thing about mass spectrometry is the power of discovery. I can take a sample from a specific disease, and the specification of the mass can tell me all the molecules that differentiate between diseased tissue and healthy tissue. We may not even have names for some of these molecules yet. This scientific discovery allows us to follow entirely new paths of research.

About Dr. Jonathan Kirk

Dr. Jonathan Kirk is director of the Master of Science program in Clinical and Applied Mass Spectrometry at Loyola University. Dr. Kirk began working at Loyola in 2015 as part of the Department of Physiology and has quickly emerged as a leader when it comes to identifying students’ educational needs.

Having studied bioengineering at Washington State University and the University of Pittsburgh, he pursued his postdoctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he trained in mass spectrometry with Dr. Jennifer Van Eyck. Since that time, Dr. Kirk has continued to develop his expertise in mass spectrometry and has been one of the main parties responsible for identifying the significant lack of appropriate education for those wishing to work in this exciting scientific field.

Throughout his life, Dr. Kirk has been a natural problem solver. Since childhood, he loved to solve puzzles and pursue education and this is a big part of what made him become the architect of America’s first dedicated master’s program in mass spectrometry – particularly one that offers a lot of flexibility and individual guidance to students.

When asked, Dr. Kirk said that the best advice for students is “Failure is temporary, success is cumulative.”

About Loyola University Chicago’s Health Sciences Campus

Loyola University Chicago’s Health Sciences campus consists of approximately 980 faculty members and more than 2,200 students who are committed to excellence in health sciences education, practice, and research.

Our mission is to advance the university’s commitment to a socially just world by developing healthcare leaders and improving human health through education and research based on Jesuit and Catholic values. We expect our graduates to live fulfilling lives in the spirit of Jesuit calling to become women and men of others, especially to those who need it most.

Our campus consists of many different departments, institutes, centers and schools. We are just as powerful as each of our individual parts. All of our units, including the Stritch School of Medicine, the Niehoff School of Nursing, the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health, the Graduate School’s Biomedical Programs, and our Health Sciences Research Project, must work collectively to advance the changing areas of higher education, research, and health care. .

We cannot strengthen our position without our clinical partners at Loyola University Health System and Trinity Health. This partnership allows our students to learn with the expertise of physicians who provide compassionate and uncompromising care. It also brings our education and research to the point of care and allows us to be at the forefront of science and healthcare research.

Our research project, which occupies 225,000 square feet of the Center for Translational Research and Education, focuses on new discoveries and health improvement with a focus on eliminating health disparities. Working collaboratively, we will train healthcare leaders and researchers who are able and committed to the Jesuit tradition cura Personalis – Take care of the whole person.

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