Mass Spectrometry Core Facility

We are an expert bioanalytical research facility for the analysis of clinical and biological samples by mass spectrometry

About Us

The Mass Spectrometry Core is located in the East Block of the Centre for Cardiovascular Science in the Queen's Medical Research Institute (QMRI) at the University of Edinburgh’s BioQuarter Campus.

The facility was set up to encourage bioanalytical development for clinical and preclinical research working with the local and international clinical community. We are overseen by the Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility’s (Edinburgh CRF) operational management committee.

Generally we use tandem mass spectrometers to carry out Multiple Reaction Monitoring (MRM) based targeted quantitative analysis of clinical and biological samples using authentic standards and isotopically labelled internal standards. We are accredited for 25hydroxy-Vitamin D analysis through DEQAS for VITDAL and we are also enrolled in NEQAS for 7 steroids (Cortisol, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, progesterone, estradiol, testosterone, androstenedione, aldosterone) for analysis in human clinical samples.

We are an active part of both The Edinburgh Association of Mass Spectrometrists (TEAMS) and the Scottish Metabolomics Network and can provide expert advice and signpost to other mass spectrometry facilities and researchers in other departments and higher education institutions too.


Core Director: Prof Ruth Andrew

Core Manager: Dr Natalie Homer

Deputy Core Manager: Scott Denham

Post-doctoral research assistant: Dr Shazia Khan

Research Technician: Tricia Lee

Mass Spectrometry Analyst: Dr Jo Simpson



We have a wide range of specialist instrumentation for bioanalysis and sample preparation for chromatography and mass spectrometry analysis and expertise on how to handle a range of biological samples (e.g. plasma, serum, urine, tissue such as liver, cell media)

Tandem mass spectrometry enables targeted quantitative analysis of compounds, particularly of small molecules, including endogenous compounds, metabolites and drugs from complex matrices such as plasma, urine, saliva, hair and tissue (e.g. adipose, kidney, brain).

The Sciex QTrap 6500+ is our most sensitive tandem linear ion trap mass spectrometer available, attached to an I-Class UPLC system, operated using Analyst software We also have a Sciex QTrap 5500 with an Acquity I-Class attached, operated using Analyst software. We have a Waters Xevo TQS with M-Class for microflow applications and an I-Class+ for UPLC applications, all operated using MassLynx.

We have a ThermoFisher TSQ 9000 and Trace 1300 GC-MS/MS including Headspace and liquid autosampler, operated using Chromeleon software.

We are installing a ThermoFisher Exploris 240 and Vanquish uHPLC, which will be operated using Chromeleon software and will be used for steroid and metabolic profiling by high resolution mass spectrometry.

Three approaches to projects are outlined below:

1. Sample Analysis Service

If you think mass spectrometry will answer your questions then you  can collaborate with us and we’ll use our expertise to develop novel methods. Our team can assess molecules of interest, develop sample preparation methods, validate bioanalytical methods, prepare samples, analyse on appropriate instruments, interpret and report data.  Examples of this include steroid profiling, drug analysis, pharmacokinetic assessments and adherence to drug regimens. We have a number of methods already validated and can adapt, improve or innovate for small molecule analysis in many sample types  

2. Supported Analytical Research

Researchers have the opportunity of a ‘hands on’ approach (undergraduates, post-graduates, resaerchers) for the preparation, instrument analysis and software data handling of their own samples. This training opportunity allows individuals to gain valuable experience and understanding in the use and operation of analytical instruments, data handling and interpretation.

3. Open Access

Researchers who are confident and experienced have the opportunity to prepare and analyse their own samples, interpret data and report results in the laboratory. This is for researchers who require access to specialised instrumentation but require minimal support from the team.


Contact us

Dr Natalie Homer

Tel: 0131 242 9331 / 242 9229