Imaging ONE WORLD - "Biological imaging using mass spectrometry – new concepts for a National Capability at the Rosalind Franklin Institute"

30 November 2020


RMS Hosted Event

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This week will feature Ian Gilmore from the National Physical Laboratory.

Scientific Organisers: Stefanie Reichelt, Alex Sossick, Nick Barry, Alessandro Esposito and Kirti Prakash

The meeting will begin at 1pm UK Time.

As part of the 'Imaging ONE WORLD' series, the focus of these lectures is on microscopy and image analysis methods and how to apply these to your research. Almost all aspects of imaging such as sample preparation, labelling strategies, experimental workflows, ‘how-to’ image and analyse, as well as facilitating collaborations and inspiring new scientific ideas will be covered. Speakers will be available for questions and answers. The organisers, CRUK CI core facility staff, Gurdon Institute, MRC-LMB, MRC Cancer Unit and NPL will be able to continue the discussion and provide advice on your imaging projects.



  • Ian Gilmore

    National Physical Laboratory
    Prof. Ian Gilmore is Head of Science at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Senior NPL Fellow and a Visiting Professor in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham. He is founding director of the UK’s National Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry (NiCE-MSI). Ian’s research goal is to achieve super-resolution label-free metabolic imaging. He has a special interest in reducing drug attrition through measuring where drugs go and their pharmacological effect at a sub-cellular scale. To study this, he created the revolutionary 3D OrbiSIMS (Nature Methods 2017) in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline. His research interests also include 3D molecular imaging of complex interfaces in organic electronics, batteries and additive manufactured devices using OrbiSIMS and FIB-SIMS. Ian has over 25 years’ experience in mass spectrometry of surfaces and has published more than 140 peer-reviewed papers. He is a consultant and advisor to a number of companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and Samsung. He was awarded the IoP Paterson medal (2004) and the UKSAF Riviere prize (2013) for a major contribution to international leadership in surface analysis.

Speaker Abstract

The recently established Rosalind Franklin Institute is dedicated to transforming life science through interdisciplinary research and technology development. The institute’s research is focused into five complementary themes: AI and informatics; Biological mass spectrometry, Correlated imaging, Next generation chemistry and Stuctual biology. Together , they will produce technologies which allow us to see the biological world in new ways, from single molecules to entire systems. This insight will speed up drug design and development, and push forward our understanding of human health and disease. The biological mass spectrometry theme, led by Josephine Bunch (NPL) and Zolatan Takats (Imperial), has a key objective to construct a unique multimodal imaging mass spectrometer instrument, which allows the molecular mapping of biological tissues at unprecedented sensitivity, chemical depth and spatial resolution. The instrument is envisioned to not only detect the building blocks of tissues, but also provide proper structural characterisation of all detected molecular species and supramolecular complexes.

The instrument will have multiple probes including laser and electrospray with secondary ion mass spectrometry for sub-micron resolution imaging. So, what are the prospects for the mass spectrometer in a such a next generation instrument? There are many performance characteristics that need considering and optimizing including; ion transmission, mass accuracy, mass resolution, MS/MS capability, mass range, duty cycle, signal to noise and time per spectrum. In addition to these are emerging requirements for open formats and the appropriate metadata to ensure that data are Findable Accessible Interoperable and Reproducible (FAIR). Other considerations also include the affordability and laboratory foot print.

We give a critical review, in terms of the above criteria, of recent advances in mass spectrometer designs including multipass ToF, Orbitrap, FT-ICR as well as the detection systems. It is not possible to optimize all the criteria simultaneously and the possibilities and trade-offs will be highlighted. In addition, the future possibilities of novel quantum sensing methods will be discussed. 

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