Joanneum – the versatile, wide range research institution of Graz
Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH is a non-academic, non-profit research institution with headquarters located in Graz, Austria. Joanneum Research works on more than 500 research and development projects each year clustered in three thematic areas (Information and Production Technologies, Society and Sustainability, Human Technology and Medicine). In the latter, the Institute HEALTH contributes comprehensive expertise in the field of mass spectrometry and immunochemistry in the Research Group Bioanalysis and Metabolomics which combines state-of-the-art analytical methods with high level scientific expertise to answer complex scientific problems. In addition, analytical methods for the validation and control of pharmaceutical processes are at the forefront of the research work.
The wide-ranging method portfolio includes, among others, the development and optimisation of customised analytical methods to determine the occurrence and concentration of specific active ingredients and biomarkers in biological samples. The know-how is complemented by method validation according to the latest guidelines under GLP (good laboratory practice) if required, the performance of analyses from various biological matrices such as serum, plasma, interstitial fluid, tissue, cell cultures, and pharmaceutical formulations, or detailed sample analysis even with high sample throughput. An intensively investigated matrix for dermal research is dermal interstitial fluid, which is sampled by using a specialised method, the so-called open flow microperfusion (OFM), an innovation designed at HEALTH.
Established analytical panels for pharmacodynamic parameters such as small molecule drugs, therapeutic antibodies, cytokines, or eicosanoids are available and biomarkers such as metabolites of the energy metabolism (e.g. AcylCoA) or polyamines as well as isotope-labelled tracers are targeted in research projects. Next to the targeted metabolomics approach the lab has also established an untargeted metabolomics platform which offers optimised metabolic fingerprint acquisition that enables the detection of new unknown biomarkers.
The combination of scientific expertise and professional project management enables HEALTH to offer individually tailored projects ranging from pilot to multicentre clinical studies in collaboration with trusted clinical partners. Many years of analytical experience enable HEALTH to react particularly flexible to client requirements.
Research Group Bioanalysis and Metabolomics at HEALTH, Joanneum Research
Focusing on metrology in food and nutrition domains in a European RI
Since 2002, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (RIs) supports the building up of RIs in all fields of science and technology. In this context, the METROFOOD-RI for Promoting Metrology in Food and Nutrition (www.metrofood.eu) was evolved to promote high-quality metrology services along the whole food chain, i.e. ’from farm to fork’, through findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable data management practices. The RI governance follows the hub-node scheme. The physical component of the RI has two sides; one consisting of reference material plants and analytical laboratories for the development and validation of new Reference Materials and methods (the ‘Metro’ side) and another one consisting of experimental fields/farms for crop production/animal breeding, plants for food processing and storage, kitchen-labs for food preparation (the ‘Food’ side). The electronic component coordinates them by providing an access platform to share and integrate knowledge and data on metrological tools for food analysis, focusing on food composition, nutritional value, safety issues, and authenticity markers. One of the 18 national nodes participating in the RI, is the Greek one. Currently, 6 public institutions have signed the Joint Research Unit (JRU) consortium agreement regarding their participation to the Greek Node (www.metrofood.gr). The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki coordinates and participates with experts in various food and natural product chemistry, processing and analysis and pesticide control in the food chain. The University of Ioannina contributes with its NMR spectroscopy center. The Agricultural University of Athens is involved with experts in various foods and wine processing and analysis. The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania provides support in honey quality control and the National Laboratory of Chemical Metrology (Chemical State laboratory-Hellenic Institute of Metrology) maintains an extensive analytical arsenal including a plant for reference material production. The Hellenic Institute of Health conducts, supports and advances scientific research in order to promote health and prevent disease, with focus on the Greek population. The METROFOOD-GR partners collaborate under the RI aegis to carry out research projects and provide services to the academia, policy makers, food authorities, food businesses and the consumer associations.
Coordinator of the METROFOOD Greek Node
Thessaloniki School of Chemistry experiments go to space
Multiphase Dynamics Group (MDG, Head: Prof. T. Karapantsios) in the School of Chemistry of Aristotle University (Thessaloniki, Greece) participates in two multi-national experiments (RUBI and SMD-PASTA) on-board the International Space Station (ISS). Apart from the scientific contribution, MDG is responsible for a Remote Telemetry Station and for processing of downlinked data. ISS offers the optimum platform to carry out experiments in weightlessness in terms of duration and quality of microgravity (chiefly around 10-5 g). Both experiments were built and tested by AIRBUS DS on behalf of the European Space Agency and were integrated in the Fluid Science Laboratory facility within the Columbus Module of the ISS.
Multiscale Boiling Experiment (RUBI) has been conducted within two campaigns between 2019 and 2021. The project is currently active on the analysis and interpretation of data, interpretations on the involved physical phenomena and relevant publications in science journals. Within the project, 13 research groups from 8 countries are collaborating to address fundamental questions about two-phase heat transfer during boiling. For this, a single bubble or a few successive bubbles are selectively ignited on a heated substrate using a short laser pulse. A detailed investigation of phenomena is possible, as the boiling process is temporally slowed down and bubbles are spatially enlarged in microgravity. The undisturbed growth of bubbles as well as the influence of shear flow and electric field are investigated using FC-72 as working fluid with optical diagnostics (B/W and IR camera). MDG leads image processing of ~900 pool boiling data sets to: a) Estimate bubbles’ geometrical features (e.g. diameter and contact angles) and b) Interpret the influence of experimental conditions (e.g. pressure and heat flux) on bubble growth curves.
Soft Matter Dynamics–Particles Stabilized Emulsions and Foams Experiment (SMD-PASTA) is currently on-going (February-June 2022). 8 groups from 7 countries are collaborating to assess the evolution and dynamics of emulsions with optical diagnostics (B/W camera, Diffused Wave Spectroscopy and Speckle Variance Spectroscopy). Microgravity allows to investigate emulsion destabilisation under the sole effect of coarsening and coalescence, since on ground segregation (creaming) is intricately coupled with this and develop new models for emulsion stability/destabilisation prognosis. The role of surfactant type (C12EO21, C10EO5) and concentration as well as the role of MCT (Medium-chain triglycerides) oil fraction on emulsion dynamics is examined. MDG is responsible for image processing of acquired data to study the effect of different parameters on the evolution of droplet size distribution during emulsion destabilisation and model the entire process.
Sotiris Evgenidis, Thodoris Karapantsios
Aristotle University Thessaloniki