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Vol. 26 No. 3
May-June 2004

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/symposia

Emerging Issues in Analytical Chemistry

by Ryszard Lobinski

The IUPAC Congress brings together eminent scientists from all over the world and is a landmark event in chemistry. It is also an invaluable source of ideas for IUPAC if divisions can attract participation of key scientists in their working meetings at the associated General Assembly. This was demonstrated by a mini-workshop on New Challenges for Analytical Chemists in Genomics, Proteomics, and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) held on 10 August 2003. The workshop was organized by the Analytical Chemistry Division and included in its annual division committee meeting held at the IUPAC General Assembly in Ottawa.

The speakers who graciously accepted invitations to the workshop were Dr. Aled Edwards, director of the Genomic Consortium, University of Toronto; Dr. Jim McLaren; director of the Chemical and Mechanical Standards, National Research Council, Ottawa; and Dr. Heinz Schimmel, IRMM, Geel, Belgium.

Aled Edwards discussed the increasing role of mass spectrometry in the multibillion-dollar industry of identification and prediction of disease states. He evoked the need for standardization of analytical mass spectrometric methods, qualitative fingerprinting, and quantitative determination. Jim McLaren and Heinz Schimmel discussed the needs for accurate measurements of DNA in view of the increasing role of genetically modified organisms and regulatory trends.

A very positive outcome from this workshop was the identification of three potential projects: “Standard Definitions of Terms Relating to Mass Spectrometry,” “Comparison of the Terms: Preconcentration/Sample Preparation as Used in GMO Analysis and in Classical Analysis,” and “Terminology Related to Analytical Chemistry of Metal Forms in Biological Systems: Metallomics.” The formation of a task group for the first topic was coordinated by Kermit Murray (Louisiana State University), and the project has already been approved by the division (in print page 23). Proposals are currently being drafted for the latter two topics.

Building on the success of this workshop—more recently and in the framework of the Analytical Chemistry Division Committee Meeting—a workshop was held 16–17 February 2004 in Vienna on Emerging Issues in Metrology in Chemistry. The meeting was opened by W. Burkart (deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency) and A. Fajgelj (chair of IUPAC Interdivisional Working Party on Harmonization of Quality Assurance). It attracted an additional 17 participants, mostly representing IAEA.

Five lectures were given by invited speakers and IUPAC members. Robert Wielgosz, head of the Metrology in Chemistry department at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), presented a lecture on key comparisons at BIPM: purpose, examples, mutual recognition arrangement, and calibration and measurement capabilities. This was followed by a presentation on metrological traceability and measurement uncertainty concepts by Paul DeBiévre (IUPAC). Leslie Pendrill (secretary of the IUPAP Commission on Symbols, Units, Nomenclature, Atomic Masses and Fundamental Constants) gave a physicist’s view on future needs for metrological traceability and Otto Loesener-Diaz (industrial development officer at United Nations Industrial Development Organization [UNIDO]) presented UNIDO activities in metrology and related issues. The symposium finished with a review of metrological traceability in special fields presented by Manfred Groening (head of the Isotope Hydrology Laboratory at the IAEA) and A. Fajgelj.

The mini-symposium was a welcome learning event. Metrology in chemistry has been identified, together with continuing efforts in the field of quality assurance, as one of the focal areas for the Analytical Chemistry Division medium-term plan. The basic aim of the workshop was to inform committee members and other participants on the status of the field and current international initiatives. In parallel this workshop provided an excellent opportunity to present and discuss the background and plan for the IUPAC proposal for the International Council of Science grant program 2005. Moreover, this workshop helped strengthen the existing cooperation among IUPAC, IUPAP, and IAEA and also to expand it to UNIDO. After the event, a courtesy visit was paid to D. Liang and O. Loesener at UNIDO to discuss the possible involvement of UNIDO in the IUPAC proposal submitted to ICSU on “Metrological Traceability: A Fair Basis for Trade.”

Both of these experiences have encouraged the Analytical Chemistry Division to work more constructively with the next IUPAC Congress scheduled in Beijing in August 2005. Keeping in touch with the emerging needs of analytical chemistry is one of the main objectives of the division.

Any questions/comments/suggestions should be addressed to the division officers; see web site below.

www.iupac.org/divisions/V/index.html


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