Training & Mobility Interview - Geraldine Dowling

As a Knowledge Network member, Geraldine Dowling a PhD candidate from Celbridge, partook in the Training and Mobility programme. The following extract was taken from The Chemical Residues Annual eNewsletter in November 2012. For any queries relating to the programme, please email

Sharing Irish-American residues analysis experiences: a visit to the USFDA

Geraldine Dowling, Senior Analyst and PhD candidate from The State Laboratory, Celbridge, was recently awarded a Training and Mobility Programme Bursary by safefood to undertake training at the United States Food and Drug Administration. She visited the USFDA laboratory of Dr Sherri B Turnipseed in Denver from 22nd to 28th June 2012.


The aim of the visit was to identify how an Agilent QTOF-LC-MS/MS instrument is used routinely for targeted and non-targeted drug residue testing and to establish if similar approaches could be implemented at the State Laboratory.


The use of QTOF-LC-MS/MS instruments for routine analysis is a recent development and the use of full-scan accurate mass technology allows detection of target analytes as well as non-targeted compounds. However, the technique generates an enormous amount of data and, depending on the matrix, this can make the identification and quantitation of analytes difficult.


The general activities undertaken during the visit included calibration of a QTOF instrument, acquisition of QTOF parameters for targeted and non-targeted methods, sample preparation and chromatography requirements prior to TOF analysis, data processing strategies, training on the use of Masshunter software for running experiments, creation of data for processing and subsequently updating the databases with new drug residue information.

Knowledge Transfer:

This visit was a good opportunity to get valuable training on the implementation of the Agilent QTOF liquid chromatography mass spectrometry instrument in a regulatory laboratory, including training on data processing and suitable strategies to avoid potential pitfalls. The knowledge gained during the visit to the USFDA will form the basis for future data processing and method development at the State Laboratory and other staff in the State Laboratory will be provided with training on the use of the technology. Upon successful implementation of this technology, the State Laboratory plans to publish work in scientific journals and present information at scientific conferences on the new methods of analysis developed.

Added Value and Benefits:

The results of this short visit are extremely beneficial. During the discussions which took place it was identified that both laboratories have similar analytical technology and face similar challenges so there is potential to share knowledge between the two sites on an on-going basis as both groups identify the best approaches to adopt when utilising high resolution mass spectrometry.

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