PhenoLogix is a specialist team of Phenomenex scientists who use their expertise to offer custom separation solutions to laboratories around the world. Sonia Nicholas, Associate Editor of SelectScience®, spoke to Seyed Sadjadi, Senior Applications Scientist, PhenoLogix, to learn more.
SN: Seyed, please can you start by telling us about your background?
SS: I hold a MS degree in Analytical Chemistry from California State University, Fullerton and a BS degree in Chemistry from University of Calif at Irvine. My professional career started at Nichols Institute, an esoteric clinical laboratory, now recognized as Quest Diagnostics at Nichols Institute. During my tenure at Quest, I worked as a bench chemist running routine assays and research scientist developing assays.
After 15 years at Quest, I joined Varian Consumable Products as an applications chemist characterizing liquid chromatography (LC) columns and solid phase extraction (SPE) products by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) technology. In that role, I also supported sales and marketing efforts by interacting with clients and developing technical notes and presentations.
An opportunity knocked in 2004 and I continued my career at Applied Biosystems (now Sciex), as LC/MS Sr Field Applications Specialist. I travelled to client sites and helped with their application development, hardware training and overall education on the use of triple quadrupole and QTRAP mass spectrometers, and the related software.
Overall, I have spent about half my career as a client and the other as a vendor supporting the clients’ effort to succeed in their laboratories.
SN: How did you come to be working at Phenomenex and how has your previous experience helped to prepare you for this job?
SS: My tenure at Applied Biosystems was a truly eye-opening and learning experience. The amount of travel and absence from my family, however, was excessive.
In mid-2010 after leaving Sciex, I joined Phenomenex as an LC/MS Applications Scientist. In this role, I have drawn from my experience in a clinical lab and the mass spectrometry industry, to better devise a solution(s) for our clients. We have offered some unique educational programs to our clinical clients that were not previously available.
SN: What is the overall role of the PhenoLogix Application Group?
SS: PhenoLogix is the application arm of Phenomenex. The traditional role of the applications lab is to support sales and marketing efforts of the Company. Phenologix closely follows that endeavor. PhenoLogix scientists produce a wealth of scientific posters and oral presentations at conferences and trade shows. In addition to these duties, PhenoLogix offers Phenomenex clients customized separation solutions such as small-scale purifications, specialized method development advice and customer education services, on-site support and method development and probably the most popular, free chiral screening.
SN: What is your specific job role at PhenoLogix?
SS: I work on LC/MS projects. Many of these projects are related to various market segments such as food and beverage industries. My duties further include looking after our LC/MS group and LC/MS systems, advise and mentor younger scientists in our group, and work with external clients to address their difficult analysis. On occasion I also meet with clients in their facility or in-house to advise and train them.
SN: How would you describe the PhenoLogix team?
SS: We are a very diverse and interesting group of scientists (affectionately known as Phenologians), truly a cosmopolitan group! The group collectively represents a member from each corner of the globe with specialties ranging in techniques such as GC, GC/MS, SPE, HPLC, LC/MS, SFC, Chiral LC and Prep LC. These individuals have extensive backgrounds in various industries, including pharmaceutical, clinical research, toxicology, chromatography, and MS sales.
I am truly proud to be part of this team.
SN: Can you tell us more about your current method development projects?
SS: I am currently working on a LC/MS solution for very hydrophilic analytes (e.g. catecholamines, serotonin and metabolites, aminoglycosides antibiotics) using conventional reversed-phase chromatography. This project involves multiple industries.
Recently, we evaluated several SPE products to significantly reduce surfactants excipient from oral fluid collection devices to improve LC/MS analysis. We are planning to expand this work.
And finally, we are testing new sample clean up procedures for steroid research from serum matrix. The goal of this effort is to produce a cleaner extract.
SN: What different levels of support can you offer to separation laboratories?
SS: The first level of support is a simple conversation through email or teleconference to assist our client. Some level of data review may be required at this stage.
The next step may involve some level of development at our facilities. These activities are generally based on the business potential and may be fee-based.
SN: What sort of laboratories do you provide support to?
SS: There are a broad range of laboratories that utilize PhenoLogix services. Small pharmaceutical laboratories and universities are typically interested in chiral screening and purification. Clinical research, toxicology and forensic labs have need of sample preparation and/or LC/MS application development. Food and beverage clients need multi-step sample preparation assistance and usually GC/MS method development.
SN: How is your lab set up to recreate the resources in different laboratories?
SS: Our lab is equipped with many of the common analytical systems available in many laboratories. We can provide a solution or at least a starting point with different technologies available at our disposal. Furthermore, we are able to either use real samples (or a reasonable substitute) in our development work.
Our laboratory currently has three triple quadrupole LC/MS/MS systems, three GC/MS and GC/FID, two Prep LC with UV and single quad MS detector, one analytical SFC system with UV detector, two on-line SPE/automated sample prep systems, one automated off-line liquid handling with SPE/sample preparation setup. There are also a dozen HPLC, UHPLC units with UV/Vis and fluorescence detectors. Additional rotovaps and lyophilizer units are available for continuation of small scale purification setups. Although not completely adequate for every situation, we can successfully address many situations with this set-up.
SN: What key benefits can you provide to separation scientists and laboratories working with you?
SS: We don’t always have an answer for every situation, however, with the level of talent and expertise in our group, we are able to provide significant help to our clients. I would say that our scientific expertise in separations, and our specific industry experience, is our primary benefit.
With respect to column screening, it is not always financially feasible to maintain a large inventory of LC columns with varying stationary phases. Our lab is fully capable of addressing this very need. A large benefit for our customers is the potential cost saving measures achieved by employing our services.