May 2017: Moving Ever Closer to Tricorders

Moving Ever Closer to Tricorders
New Portable Tools to Screen FDA-Regulated Products
Dr. Peter T. Palmer, San Francisco State University
Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 6 – 9 PM
Location: Michael’s at Shoreline Park Mountain View, CA 94043

As per its mission statement: “FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.” Up until now, much of the analytical work needed to ensure the safety of these products has been performed ipso facto (after people became sick) in a regulatory lab setting using the best available instrumentation to provide accurate results. This paradigm is slowly changing thanks to the introduction of new portable tools that enable rapid screening of products in a field setting such as a factory, import center, or mail facility. This presentation will review emerging tools including portable X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzers, handheld Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectrometry (LIBS) analyzers, portable X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) systems, Gamma-ray spectrometers, UV/Vis/IR and Raman spectrometers, and Ion Mobility Spectrometers (IMS). It will also provide examples of how these tools can be used to monitor trace levels of toxic elements, radioactive species, and/or illegal/contaminated/counterfeit drugs. Many scientists and administrators dismiss these new devices as “screening tools” and prefer to rely on “gold standard” methods based on ICP-MS, GC/ MS, and LC/MS/MS. The reality is that these new portable tools have an important niche, provide a much more efficient means to assess products, and can provide reliable qualitative and quantitative results in the hands of a trained user. This presentation will review these tools, their capabilities, and limitations, and use in regulatory settings to find contaminated or potentially dangerous products.

Dr. Peter T.Palmer received a Chemistry fromCanisius College in Buffalo, NY, and a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Michigan State University. He has held positions as a lab technician in an environmental testing laboratory, a research scientist at Proctor & Gamble designing and developing laboratory robotics systems, and as a group leader at NASA Ames Research Center where he developed Mass Spectrometry systems for life support, atmospheric, and ecosystems monitoring applications. Dr. Palmer is currently a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at San Francisco State University (SFSU), Co-Director of SFSU’s Mass Spectrometry Facility, and Science Advisor for the FDA. His research interests focus on the development, characterization, and application of highly automated instrumentation for trace chemical analysis. Some of his applications to date include the development of Direct Sampling Mass Spectrometry and Solid Phase Micro- Extraction Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry methods for monitoring pollutants in air water, development of the first Proton Transfer Reaction Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer for monitoring volatile organic compounds in air, numerous case studies on the determination of pesticide contamination on Native American artifacts, and pioneering the use of X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry for rapid screening of toxic elements in consumer products.

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