Another Man’s Treasure
Got an obsolete but working instrument sitting in the basement of your institution? There are students across the world who are in need.
Kym Faull |
A few years ago, a scientist from the University of Bornova in Izmir, Turkey, came to do a sabbatical at UCLA. We had a couple of old GC/MS instruments sitting in the basement – they were both in working condition but we had discarded them for a newer, better system. I casually said he could have them, and in due course the instruments were shipped to Izmir. Months later, I visited the Turkish university, and managed to get one of the instruments working. I was amazed to find that the students in the lab had previously never even seen a mass spectrometer, let alone used one. I trained a couple of them in how to use it, and though I afterwards lost touch with the professor, I was told that the instrument ran for several years – helping in their research and to introduce their students to mass spectrometry and GC/MS in particular.
It occurred to me then that this could be done on a larger scale. Institutions, universities and pharma companies are constantly replacing their analytical equipment with more sensitive versions – why not make the old instruments available to countries who need them for research and teaching? For the past two years, I have conducted a workshop at ASMS, discussing the lack of instrumentation in many labs around the world. At this year’s workshop, a scientist from Cameroon confirmed that he’d never seen a mass spectrometer as a student, only read about them in books. That lack of contact puts such students at a huge disadvantage; without experience, they struggle to compete for post docs and positions in other countries. The situation hardened my commitment to try and find a way to repurpose discarded instruments from the USA.
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