Mass Spectrometry Imaging
There is a growing application of this collection of techniques and they are being inclused in correlative microscopy pipelines, therefore the RMS seemed a logical choice to address this void and bring together expertise in so many different microscopy and imaging modalities.
Other science section
In response to communications with other members of the mass spectrometry imaging community, it was recognised that there was no section or focused interest group within the RMS based on mass spectrometry imaging. Yet, based on the growing application of this collection of techniques, and especially their ever increasing inclusion in correlative microscopy pipelines, the RMS seemed to be a logical choice to address this void as no other society can bring together expertise in so many different microscopy and imaging modalities.
Some points that were raised by everyone who responded were that it would be beneficial for the group’s priorities to raise public and political awareness for mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) across disciplines in order for the technique(s) to gain more visibility and representation at conferences and politically-based think-tank sessions that report directly to the various funding agencies. A second common theme was to demonstrate the potential of MSI in all disciplines and promote communication, collaboration and support in the MSI community so that there is a greater understanding and knowledge of the resources available and of the subject overall.
From the industrial viewpoint, specific suggestions included that one of the main aims for the group should be to raise awareness of ambient (or atmospheric) mass spectrometry techniques, as some samples can be difficult to analyse using traditional methods and some emerging methods hold great promise. In addition, it was recognised that an MSI Focused Interest Group would provide an effective means of communicating information (and raising awareness of) MSI techniques and applications. Specifically, the MSI FIG would provide a vehicle for education about the techniques, in particular how some techniques that are traditionally used in biosciences could be applied in the physical sciences and vice-versa. It was also noted that a FIG could help spawn interest in MSI to younger scientists and would assist in the development of future knowledgeable MSI researchers (and thus experts for careers in industry R&D). An MSI FIG would also be an effective means of developing collaborative relationships between universities and industry.
From the academia side, it was suggested that the group would be an effective way to facilitate links between researchers who are developing MSI technology and their potential end-users (and quite possibly the MSI equipment manufacturers themselves), as well as encouraging technical discussions between users of mass spectrometry imaging. Furthermore, at the undergraduate level many of the MSI techniques used by the experts within this group are not taught nor discussed to any significant length in university curricula across all disciplines (there might be a mention of TOF-SIMS occasionally). As it currently stands, most starting M.Phil or PhD/D.Phil students are starting from “ground zero” in contrast to other techniques for which they have greater knowledge such as optical, confocal or electron microscopy methods. The group would like to see that the “playing field” is evened out so to speak.
We also believe it critical that any MSI FIG include representation from the data processing, image representation and data handling standpoint. The FIG could be used as a platform, for example, for standardization of MSI imaging representations, dissemination of image processing pipelines, handling of metadata for reproducibility and best practices for image processing and mathematical/statistical analysis with discussions on their limits of interpretability. With large data sets that will only continue to grow, the group would be a good platform to gain support for data handling, processing and analysis tasks and could be used to address a particular need for more discussion surrounding data storage and transfer, as MSI data are becoming very large and complex and used in large cohort / longitudinal studies fairly routinely now.
Dr. Greg McMahon received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Metallurgical Engineering at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario Canada. Following a brief stint in industry where he was seconded to the Materials Technology Laboratory/CANMET in Ottawa, in 1990 he decided to pursue his Ph.D in Saarbrucken, Germany in the group led by Prof. Herbert Gleiter, who were leading the field in studying the unique properties of nanocrystalline materials. His thesis was on the study of the microstructural and optoelectronic properties of nanocrystalline ZnO solids exhibiting quantum size effects using an array of microscopic and microanalytical techniques (SEM/EDX, TEM, XRD, Mossbauer spectroscopy, luminescence). After graduating in 1994 he returned to MTL/CANMET as post-doc and subsequently research scientist in charge of the Cameca ims 4f facility and later went on to work with Fibics Inc. using FIB and quadrupole SIMS as well as maintaining the 4f lab for MTL. In 2004 the call of the prototype Cameca NanoSIMS took him to Boston where he was the Assistant Director to Prof. Claude Lechene at the Natural Resource for Imaging Mass Spectrometry (NRIMS) at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s hospital, introducing him to the field of biological sciences. After 4 years there he went on to become Electron Microscopy facility manager at Boston College prior to moving to the UK in 2015 to be part of the NanoSIMS group at University of Manchester and finally to Principal Research Scientist in NanoSIMS imaging at the National Physical Laboratory.