Mass Spectrometry Laboratory

Mass spectrometry became one of the most powerful tool in physical chemistry and biophysics. MS is now a major tool in analytical and bioanalytical methods, allowing rapid identification, structure analysis and quantification of analytes in complex matrices.

Prof. E. De Pauw funded the Mass spectrometry Laboratory (MSLAB) in 1994, now led by Prof. Gauthier Eppe since October 2019 with Prof. Loïc Quinton as Vice-Director. A constant concern has been to develop new concepts about innovative uses of mass spectrometry and developing new analytical advanced methods to the scientific community. The rate of publication lies between 15 and 20 papers per year and the Laboratory is present at all major international conferences in Mass Spectrometry and related topics.

The MS platform presents an outstanding panel of the latest technologies, including routine analysis and prototypes for the development of new methods.

Fundamental research is at the heart of the laboratory. It concerns the study of the ionization mechanism and its effect on the structure of the ions, the gas phase structure and reactivity of the ions (activation by electrons, photons, ion mobility, HD exchange, folding processes) and the spatial localization of analytes by Mass Spectrometry Imaging.

Imaging Mass Spectrometry is used in various fields, Chemical Communication between hosts and pathogens, molecular histology, forensics. Coupled to Raman imaging, it is now part of a multimodal imaging platform. The laboratory joined several regional, national and European projects including an European Infrastructure Network, focused on high field FT-ICR MS (EU-FTICRMS). Several international collaborations are active in the fields of structure analysis of complex systems, peptidomics, cross linking and hydrogen deuterium exchange. The MSLAB is in close contact with the Organic and Biological Mass Spectrometry, headed by J.F Focant, specialist in GC×GC MS. Moreover the MS-LAB continuously develops internal collaborations within the Molecular Systems (MolSys) research Unit.

Several large projects have been recently granted and this, coupled with service to external research and industry secures the funding and allows self-supported investment for staff and instrumentation. A plan for the renewing of the instrumentation within the next 5 years is in discussion.

To promote basic and applied research, two platforms offer analytical services under quality management. The CART is a EU national reference laboratory for the analysis of dioxins and related compounds. The Proteomics Platform is one of the platforms of the GIGA research Center. It offers up to date proteomics services and is AFMPS compliant (National Agency for Health products). It has been now extended as an inter-university platform as MSQUANTA.