CAST member Bob Pirok of the Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences at the University of Amsterdam was awarded VENI grant in the TTW domain of the Dutch Research Council (NWO). With his grant, Pirok aims to improve the applicability of modern separation technology to enhance its relevance to society.
The Veni grants are part of the Talent Scheme of NWO and are aimed at excellent researchers who have recently obtained their doctorate. The grants of up to € 280,000 confirm the quality and innovative nature of their research and help to further establish themselves in their field over a three-year period.
The UPSTAIRS project aims to resolve this problem by developing algorithms that allow the automated development of methods using state-of-the-art instrumentation for the complex samples of this era. In UPSTAIRS, innovative peak-tracking algorithms will be developed that yield the capability of automated workflows to interpret the data. By utilizing these data for the construction of fundamental retention models for each analyte in the mixture, the algorithm can simulate numerous potential methods, regardless of the sample complexity. Novel equations will be designed for combinations of chemical method parameters. Candidate methods will be selected using novel chromatographic response functions based on Bayesian statistics and submitted for (automatic) validation by the instrument.
Ultimately, the algorithms will enable a control computer to directly interact with the analytical instrumentation and interpret the resulting methods to then propose and evaluate a better method. According to Pirok, ‘a computer can do all this much more effectively than a human being, so that it takes far less time to develop an optimal method. This will bring the full potential of modern separation technology to society.’
Knowledge utilization is a strong focus of this project and will be achieved through a diverse and strong user committee and a demonstration of this workflow on a highly complex sample in the final work package. Moreover, a protocol will be published along with the developed open-access toolbox to allow analysts to use this work.