Innovating research, policy and education in synthetic and systems biology

Connect and Collaborate: The Future for Lab Automation

Automated mass spec platform called Stella

On June 8th, the Centre hosted a thought-provoking workshop to explore the possibilities for lab automation with Anatune, a leading provider of lab automation. 

Anatune have been working with Dr Hannah Florance, a Metabolomics Specialist at the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology, to design and support an analytical solution for the automated sample preparation of biological material prior to analysis by GC-QTOF. Hannah and her colleagues currently use the system to carry out a range of tasks prior to direct injection into the Agilent 7200 GC-QTOF including solvent extraction, derivitizing extracted materials and preparing calibrants for standard curves. The modular setup – more affectionately referred to as ‘Stella’ (see photo left) – is highly flexible providing the potential to automate the whole process from extraction to detection.

Attended by 12 mass spec experts from across the region, the focus of this collaborative workshop was to explore the impact of lab automation and benefits on current lab practice and research in bioscience and biotechnology as well as other market sectors including food and fragrance, fast moving consumer goods, water and environmental technologies, pharmaceuticals and forensics. Representatives from academia, industry as well as industrial biotechnology specialists tired of carrying out tedious and lengthy sample preparation and analysis techniques met to discuss and share ideas on the potential benefits of lab automation.

The group spent some time discussing the benefits of automated set ups including:

  • Freeing up more time for thinking and downstream in-depth analysis
  • Providing a faster and broader scope for method development and validation
  • Reducing sample preparation with better control over incubation times
  • Reducing exposure to nasty chemicals
  • Flexibility to carry out a variety of projects for colleagues both within and outside of the University who use similar sample preparation steps and require the high quality data provided by accurate mass GC-QTOF

If you would like to contact Hannah to enquire about preparation and analysis of samples please call her on 0131 650 6044 or email at

About Anatune

Anatune serves analytical chemists in the UK and Ireland who wish to improve on turnaround times, reduce cost per sample and improve the data quality observed with manual sample preparation. Anatune integrate automated sample preparation with Gas Chromatography (GC), Liquid Chromatography (LC) (-Mass Spectrometry) and Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) to provide flexible and reliable analytical on-line/in-line, real-time and process analysis solutions which generate high quality data on a daily basis. If you want to know more about lab automation possibilities for your own lab workflows then please call or email Anatune on 01223 279210 and