By Dr Giles Edwards, Trainer & Consultant, Anthias Consulting Ltd
In August, I travelled to Kenya to deliver HPLC & LC-MS training at two HPLC & LC/MS workshops at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Kenya. These week-long practical workshops were run in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry Pan Africa Chemistry Network (PACN) and the Recycling Organisation for Research Opportunities (RORO) charity.
Almost 50 participants attended from Kenya, Morocco, Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda. Our local hosts welcomed us all from the airport and made our stay exceedingly comfortable. I was a little shocked when I first disembarked from the plane during my first visit; having left the British heatwave, Nairobi was a little brisk! Everybody waiting at the airport was wearing a coat and some of the younger children were even wearing woolly hats, however this did not deter me from wearing the obligatory t-shirt and shorts.
The workshops were both opened by local dignitaries from the RSC, the JKUAT faculty principal and the dean of chemistry and physics. The course material presented to the participants was an abridged version of the Anthias Complete HPLC & LC-MS course presented in 2 days rather than 5. Each participant did receive a full copy of the complete course for use as a reference material. Professor Anthony Gachanja from JKUAT and I worked in tandem, each presenting various sections of the course. I covered all the mass spectrometry modules.
In between various lectures, we moved to the lab where we performed practicals using the HPLC and LC-MS/MS instrumentation that had been donated by RORO the year before. We ran direct infusion experiments, quantitation of caffeine in Kenyan tea, flow injection analysis, HPLC method development and we even ran some ambient desorption electrospray ionisation (DESI) experiments.
The workshop highlights outlined by some of the participants included the maintenance and troubleshooting exercises which provided an invaluable learning experience. There are two Quattro Ultima LC-MS/MS systems at JKUAT; one was used to run the samples, the other one, which is currently vented, we stripped it down to run through the various maintenance procedures. All participants had hands-on experience with servicing the electrospray probe, cleaning the ion block and transfer optics and seeing inside the mass analyser, this provided invaluable insight in to the inner workings of the instrument. It is very important to ensure that everyone has the confidence to perform these procedures. Whilst the instrumentation is expensive, with the appropriate care and attention it is possible for anyone to complete these tasks.
The RSC PACN GC-MS and LC-MS workshops have been rolled out across designated analytical hubs that include Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana.
At present, Kenya has been the only hub to run LC-MS workshops but this will change in the not so distant future as more instrumentation becomes available for donation through the RORO charity; a Waters Quattro Premier (LC-MS/MS) with an Acquity UPLC is destined to be shipped to the University of Addis Ababa very soon.
To find out about GC-MS and LC-MS courses running in Africa through the PACN programme, visit the RSC events website.