Laboratorians interested in further honing their skills in tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) should sign up for AACC’s new certificate program, “LC-MS/MS Troubleshooting for the Clinical Laboratory Certificate Program 2017.” 

The program is geared specifically toward individuals who are familiar with and have previously used LC-MS/MS. “It would benefit technologists who wish to improve their technical skill set, as well as directors or supervisors who would like a course on issues that affect LC-MS testing operations,” Y. Victoria Zhang, PhD, DABCC, faculty chair of this certificate program, told CLN Stat

According to Zhang, the goals of this intermediate-level program are to enhance understanding of the technology and its applications in clinical laboratories; offer guidance on common troubleshooting skills, and shed light on the challenges associated with the routine operation of this platform. 

The material builds upon an introductory program that launched in 2016. Zhang, director of the clinical mass spectrometry and toxicology laboratory at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, said she collaborated with an exceptional group of volunteers on this project. “They are all experts in clinical mass spectrometry with great passion in this technology and lot of hands-on experiences,”she said.

The eight faculty members who joined Zhang in developing the course include:

Brian Rappold
Essential Testing, Collinsville, Ill.

Alan Rockwood, PhD, DABCC
ARUP Laboratories, Salt Lake City

Uttam Garg, PhD, DABCC (CC, TC) FACB
Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Mo.

Joshua Hayden, PhD, DABCC FACB
Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, N.Y.

Julia Drees, PhD, DABCC
Kaiser Permanente, Berkeley, Calif.

Sarah Shugarts, PhD, DABCC (CC, TC)
Kaiser Permanente, Berkeley, Calif.

Stephen Master, MD, PhD, FACB
Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, N.Y.

Autumn Breaud, PhD
The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore

The program’s nine courses cover a wide range of topics such as the resolution of technical issues with high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and MS hardware and related MS assay troubleshooting and assay maintenance, as well as quality control and common post-analytical problems. 

Troubleshooting is a big topic that often takes days of lectures to cover, Zhang noted. “Given the limited space, we chose the most commonly encountered issues for this topic to provide insights into daily troubleshooting,” she said. 

The goal is for participants to gain a general understanding of basic troubleshooting skills that are related to MS, system suitability, preventative maintenance, sample preparation, HPLC, gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS), data review, quality control, and calibration. “In addition to the specific skills that can be used in daily operations, I hope the participants will gain further appreciation of this complex yet powerful platform through this program,” Zhang said. 

LC-MS/MS has yet to evolve into a turn-key technology, which is the challenge and subsequently the attraction for clinical laboratories.

“And yet, some basic troubleshooting skills and thinking process will go a long way in daily operations. With time and will, everyone can become a master of the technology to make it better serve lab needs and enhance our patient care,” she said. 

Participants should keep in mind that the program serves as an introductory rather than a comprehensive manual on troubleshooting, Zhang noted. “We tried our best to be manufacturer-neutral and provide the basic principles in solving the most common issues,” she said. It is important to keep in mind that there are many approaches to achieve one goal, and variations can occur for different MS platforms. 

Register online to attend these informative troubleshooting sessions and earn 11 ACCENT credits. Fees are $275 for AACC members and $550 for nonmembers.