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Fruit Logistica 2015

MRS will once again be attending Fruit Logistica in Berlin on February 4th to 6th. This year we will be co-located with the UK Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (Hall 8.2 Stand A-07)that will be showcasing the best of UK fruit and potatoes. We look forward to meeting old customers and new at this years event.

New Commercial Company

The James Hutton Institute is to create one new commercial subsidiary which will incorporate the activities of its current commercial subsidiaries, Mylnefield Research Services Ltd (MRS) and Macaulay Scientific Consulting Ltd (MSC). The move is supported by the Boards of the James Hutton Institute, MRS and MSC, and will strengthen the commercial interests of the Institute, building on the growing success of the two existing subsidiaries.

“It’s an exciting time for the James Hutton Institute as we focus our attention on developing sustainable income streams to support further investment in delivering excellent science that meets the needs of our stakeholders,” said Professor Iain Gordon, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute.

“Through MRS and MSC we already have an excellent track record of translating science into products and services that industry needs and the creation of the new commercial company will further strengthen our commercial interests and enable us to fully exploit our wide ranging expertise.”

Managing Director of MRS, Dr Nigel Kerby, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the Institute to realise its commercial potential across both its sites and between both its existing commercial subsidiaries. It is a forward looking move that builds on the reputation and success of both MRS and MSC.

“The change will be evolutionary not revolutionary. There is still much to be decided for the new company and during the transition period it will be business as usual for MRS customers who we look forward to working with well into the future, while also attracting new customers.”

Business Manager for MSC, Hans Steuten, added: “During the transition the focus will remain firmly on delivering the excellent service that our customers are used to from our people. The new commercial subsidiary can build on the significant achievements of MRS and MSC to date.”

It is anticipated the transition to the new commercial company will take some months. A transition Board, drawing membership from the existing Boards of the James Hutton Institute, MRS and MSC, will oversee the creation of the new company and transfer of activities from the existing companies.

Accolade for Dr Nigel Kerby

The Managing Director of Mylnefield Research Services Ltd (MRS), Dr Nigel Kerby, has been named the Tayside Region Director of the Year 2013 by the Institute of Directors. He received the accolade at a glittering awards ceremony and dinner in Glasgow.

After accepting his award Dr Kerby said: “I was delighted to receive the award for me personally and the Mylnefield Research Services Ltd team as it is recognition of the continued growth and success of MRS. It has come at the end of a most successful financial year and we expect to significantly exceed all our financial targets.”

The award completes a run of achievements for MRS, which picked up the Agriculture Business of the Year at the inaugural Courier Business Awards in November and Dr Kerby himself, who was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

MRS Managing Director awarded MBE

Dr Nigel Kerby, Managing Director of Mylnefield Research Services (MRS), a commercial affiliate of the James Hutton Institute, has been recognised in the 2014 New Year Honours list.

Dr Kerby has been honoured with an MBE for services to business and science. Since 1992, he has pioneered the commercialisation of scientific intellectual assets and resources of the James Hutton Institute and one of its predecessor organisations, the Scottish Crop Research Institute, and helped develop MRS into a significant contributor to the UK economy.

Dr Kerby said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive an MBE in the New Year Honours.

“The award came at the end of a remarkable year for me personally and for the company: MRS had a record turnover, we won major new contracts and won the 2013 Courier Agriculture Business of the Year.

“This honour wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment and support of my many colleagues at MRS and the James Hutton Institute.”

MRS develops potato, soft fruit and brassica varieties, mainly through collaborative plant breeding, many of which are commonly found on supermarket shelves in the UK and are market leaders in their respective categories. MRS has made charitable donations through Gift Aid of over £2 million in the last 10 years mainly to support scientific research and education.

As well as his position with MRS, Dr Kerby is also a Director of the China-Britain Business Council and chairs their Innovation and Technology Forum. He conceived the “China Tomorrow” initiative for developing UK/China innovations.

He is a founding Trustee of the Mylnefield Trust; a Fellow of the Society of Biology; a member of the Institute of Directors (and former Chairman of the Tayside branch) and the UK Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. During Dr Kerby’s academic career he worked with Sir William Stewart (former UK Government Chief Scientist) and was a lecturer in microbiology at the University of Dundee and authored over 60 scientific articles.

FDA Approval for Mylnefield Lipid Analysis (GMP)

Mylnefield Lipid Analysis is delighted to report that its facilities for lipid analysis have been approved for GMP work by the US FDA. This complements similar approval from the UK MHRA for both GCP and GMP analysis. We are now one of the few laboratories in the world able to undertake specialist lipid analysis that is approved by both European and US authorities.

Fatty Acids and Lipids - Chemistry, Biology and Analysis Course (2015)

MRS announce that the 2015; Fatty Acids and Lipids - Chemistry, Biology and Analysis Course, will take place between the 26th and 27th February 2015, at The James Hutton Institute, Dundee, Scotland. The course of lectures will be given by Dr Charlie Scrimgeour and Dr Bill Christie MBE, and is designed especially for those working with lipids (fats and oils) in the food, oleochemical, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in academia. The course will provide an introduction to the chemistry, physics, biochemistry and analysis of lipid molecules. For more details, please contact David Somerville by email ( or by phone on +44 1382 568568.

MRS Awarded Agricultural Business of the Year

MRS were presented with an award for the Best Agricultural Business of the Year at the Courier Business Awards held in St Andrews on the 1st November. MRS were also commended in the Life Science catagory. We would like to thank all our customers as well as the staff of both MRS and the James Hutton Institute for their continued support.

American and Canadian Science Magazines Interview Head of Mylnefield Isotope Signatures

Once again Prof Meier-Augenstein,s experience and expertise in the field of stable isotopes and their application to the provenancing (and authenticity control) of foods resulted in him being approached and interviewed by two science journalists writing for the American Scientist and The Scientist, respectively. Wolfram''''s comments can be found in the articles A Difference Kind of CSI and You Are What You Eat.

Great British Bred Big Ben receives Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society

We are delighted to report that the Royal Horticultural Society has recently awarded our blackcurrant variety Big Ben its presitigious Award of Garden Merit. Big Ben is a high yielding variety withe exceptionally sweet and large fruit suitable for the fresh market. It is marketed in the UK and South Africa by Winterwood Farms Ltd. Big Ben, together with Ben Connan, joins an impressive list of Great British Bred varieties bred by MRS, including the raspberry varieties Glen Ample and Glen Magna, the strawberry varieties Symphony and Rhapsody, the potato Vales Emerald and the swede Brora.

Head of Mylnefield Isotope Signatures interviewed for PRI’s The World

Owing to his reputation of being one of the few internationally recognised experts in the use of stable isotope signatures of human tissue for human provenancing, Prof. Meier-Augenstein was interviewed by Ari Daniel Shapiro for “Strands of Evidence: Hair Forensics”, a special report about forensic stable isotope analysis of human hair that was aired on PRI’s The World. The story went on air on The World this Wednesday (17 Oct 2012). One can also find a sneak peep of the story on the website of The World’s partner programme NOVA Science Now.

Dr Helen Kemp approved by FIRMS as a lead forensic practitioner.

Dr Helen Kemp (Senior Research Fellow and Lab Manager of the Stable Isotope Facility in Invergowrie) has been approved as a Lead Forensic Practitioner in the field of stable isotope forensic analysis of drugs by the Forensic Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (FIRMS) Network. As a result, Mylnefield Isotope Signatures are now formally recognised to meet the required standard of evidentiary reliability for the forensic examination of isotope signatures in two different classes of physical evidence. Dr Kemp''''s certification as approved Lead Forensic Practitioner for the forensic examination of isotope ratios in drugs such as heroin, cocaine and ecstasy compliments Prof. Meier-Augenstein''''s earlier approval as Lead Forensic Practitioner the forensic examination of isotope signatures in human bone, teeth, hair and nails. The FIRMS Regulatory Framework for Approval includes the following elements; organisation, methods, underlying science, individuals, case work, and quality management. FIRMS is certified to the international quality standard ISO9001 for the approval of forensic practitioners in the field of isotope forensics.

Two International Conferences in 10 Days

Upon invitation, Prof Meier-Augenstein attended the 2012 Joint European Stable Isotope User Meeting (JESIUM 2012) as well as the 11th Internal Isotope Symposium (IIS 2012). The JESIUM 2012 conference was organized and hosted by the Environmental Research Centre Leipzig (UFZ Leipzig) and lasted from 3 to 7 Sep. This international conference is held only every 4 years and attracts scientists involved in fundamental and applied stable isotope research ranging from archaelogy, climate recontruction and hydrology to ecology, pharmacology and food science. Here, Wolfram gave a Keynote on “Ten Years of forensic stable isotope analysis: the good, the bad and the ugly” while also convening and chairing Session 9 on “Food authenticity and isotope forensics”. IIS 2012 was organized by Sanofi-Aventis (a global healthcare leader) and this year took place from 9 to 13 Sep in Heidelberg. Wolfram gave the invited opening lecture for Session 12 “Non-Pharmaceutical Application of Labelled Compounds”. The title of his lecture was “Stable Isotope Forensics: provenancing Pharmaceuticals, Drugs and People”.

The Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science embraces Stable Isotope Forensics

Owing to their international reputation in the field of Stable Isotope Forensics, Prof Wolfram Meier-Augenstein and Dr Helen Kemp were asked to contribute to an updated version of the Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science. A vital reference work for all professionals working in the field of forensic science, the Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science “provides essential information for forensic scientists, doctors, practicing and academic lawyers, paralegals, police, crime scene investigators, analytical chemists, behavioural scientists, and toxicologists”. Between them Prof Meier-Augenstein and Dr Kemp contributed 4 chapters to this reference work by covering various aspects of forensic Stable Isotope Analysis: 1. General Principles and Limitations; 2. Bone and Teeth; 3. Hair and Nails; 4. Drugs. Wiley have recently published these 4 new chapters and they are now available on-line from the Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science website.

A "Full-House" of stable isotope presentations at EGU 2012

Prof Meier-Augenstein and Dr Helen Kemp attended the annual conference and general assembly of the European Geoscience Union (EGU) in Vienna (22 – 28 April 2012) where on 5 posters they presented recent research findings ranging from the first detailed isoscapes (= isotopic maps) of Scottish freshwater to stable isotope signatures of methamphetamine synthesised from over-the-counter cold medication. Prof Meier-Augenstein also convened and chaired session IG4 on “Isotopes and Isoscapes as Tool for Forensic Provenancing”. The EGU general assembly is one of the largest conferences of its kind, this year attracting 11,275 scientists from 95 countries who gave 13,528 presentations between them.

Good Practice Guide for IRMS: Mylnefield Isotope Signatures play a key role.

Prof Wolfram Meier-Augenstein and Dr Helen Kemp of Mylnefield Isotope Signatures have been part of an eight members strong team that produced the recently released Good Practice Guide for Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry. This Guide was commissioned and published by the Laboratory of the Government Chemist with its production funded in part by the UK National Measurement System. The Guide is available for download from the website of the FIRMS Network or the National Measurement System’s Chemical and Biological Metrology website.

MHRA Certificate of Good Manufacturing Practice Compliance

In November 2011, Mylnefield Lipid Analysis were inspected by the UK MHRA. Following this inspection we were delighted to receive our certificate of GMP Compliance. We are very interested in meeting with companies requiring their products to be tested to GMP standards.

Stable isotope signatures help tracing designer drug manufacture

Professor Wolfram Meier-Augenstein, head of laboratory at Mylnefield Isotope Signatures, has recently been involved in a collaboration with scientists at the University of Strathclyde to develop innovative new methods of tracing designer drugs. These are drugs designed to give a ‘legal high’ by mimicking the effects of illegal drugs such as amphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy.

Although they are potentially dangerous, many of these materials have not yet been classified as illegal drugs. This new class of drugs are difficult to detect with drug tests currently in use. Stable isotope analysis is being investigated as a corroborative method for tracing the source of the raw materials used to make these designer drugs and for providing information about the synthetic route by which they are being made.

The project was presented at the recent 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), which was held in Denver from 28 August to 1 September 2011. A more detailed summary can be found here at the University of Strathclyde’s Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences.

Mylnefield Isotope Signatures in TSB Consortium

Mylnefield Isotope Signatures is pleased to announce our participation in a successful Technology Strategy Board (TSB) consortium.

Led by Protium MS Ltd, a leading supplier of equipment for stable isotope analysis and including Mylnefield Research Services and the STFC Space Science and Technology Department, the consortium was set up to develop state of the art portable equipment for stable isotope analysis.

Stable isotope ratio analysis is recognized as a standard technique for identifying adulterated foodstuffs. However applications of the technique in the food and drink industry are limited by the need to send samples back to a laboratory for analysis.

The development of laser based isotope systems has made it possible to perform isotope analysis in field situations. However current isotope laser technology cannot analyse peak shaped signals that arise in applications where gas chromatographic separation is required to investigate individual components with the same level of precision achievable with isotope ratio mass spectrometry based systems. The STFC Space Science & Technology Department has now developed and patented a laser isotope ratiometer with the ability to carry out isotope analysis over short time periods, typically in the millisecond range. This allows, for the first time, a laser system not based on CRDS technology to perform isotope analysis on CO2 peaks generated from chromatographically separated compounds.

As well as Professor Meier-Augenstein’s technical expertise in chromatographic systems for stable isotope analysis, Mylnefield Isotope Signatures will provide the consortium with commercial experience as an end-user of stable isotope equipment.

Mylnefield Isotope Signatures in the news.

Following up from our previous news article, we are delighted to announce that respected science magazine of the American Geological Institute, EARTH Magazine has published in its October issue of Vol. 56 (2011) a feature length article on stable isotope analysis and Mylnefield Isotope Signatures. Follow the link for the on-line version of the article that provides an excellent summary of what we do and why it matters to you!

CSI: Crime Scene Isotopes

Mylnefield Isotope Signatures were delighted by an unusual request for information that Professor Meier-Augenstein received recently – namely a request from researcher Jon Wellner at the well known television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The research team from CSI are responsible for making sure that the show keeps up to date with the latest developments in forensic science and for making sure that the science is realistically depicted on screen.

Mylnefield Isotope Signatures are proud to announce that Jon was referred to our Head of Laboratory, Professor Wolfram Meier-Augenstein, as a ‘world leader in forensic isotope research’ to help them with their research.

Stable isotope analysis is a cutting edge technique which has a range of applications in forensic science. For example it has been used to support a police investigation into an illegal people trafficking route used by a Vietnamese organised crime group.

Stable Isotopes help unravel the mysteries of coral

Prof Wolfram Meier-Augenstein and Dr Helen Kemp of Mylnefield Isotope Signatures, were recently involved in a major collaboration of internationally recognised marine biology institutes, including the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, the Marine Environment Research Centre in La Spezia, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France and the University of Plymouth Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre.

The aim of the collaboration was to study the complex food chains and symbioses associated with temperate coral species. By allowing researchers to trace the movement of carbon and nitrogen containing organic compounds through the marine environment, stable isotope profiles provide a uniquely effective tool for unravelling these complex food webs.

Corals are one of the principal marine calcifying organisms, converting dissolved mineral ions into solid calcium carbonate. They play a major role in regulating global carbon cycles and are a major carbon sink. As corals grow over thousands of years, their skeletons build up a record of their environmental conditions (temperature, salinity, CO2 concentration and nutrients). This ‘environmental archive’ provides important information for modelling the past, present and future of the global climate.

The paper was published by the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). The abstract can be found here on the ASLO website.

JHI Principal Scientist and head of MIS to join Science Advisory Board of Oritain Global Ltd

Oritain Global Ltd is an internationally operating company based in New Zealand and provides a certification service for food provenance / food authenticity of regional speciality foods. Oritain have recently asked Dr Meier-Augenstein to join the Oriain Science Board (OSB) to advise Oritain on science matters relating to food provenancing, food authentication and other forensic applications.

The main function of the OSB is to critically assess the science offered to Oritain clients. In the food authentication branch Oritain offer "traceability control measures" and as such have a function as independent auditors of claims of authenticity and/or geographical origin. It is this scientific independence and excellence that we need the OSB to guarantee. The other main aspect is the ethical aspect. Although Oritain is a business, the shareholders believe that the company should profile itself as an ethical business and the integrity of the science and interests of both clients and general public should come before profit.

Dr Meier-Augenstein will join an advisory board whose membership already includes eminent scientists of renown such as (in alphabetical order): Prof. Jose Almirall (Florida International University, USA); A/Prof. Russell Frew (Otago University, NZ); Chairman A/Prof. Jurian Hoogewerff (Oritain Global Ltd.); Dr. Mark Woolfe (Ex-UK Food Standards Agency); Prof. Daniel Wunderlin (National University of Cordoba, Argentina).

Stable Isotopes at the European Geosciences Union

Mylnefield Isotope Signatures drew the eye of the blogosphere at the 2011 General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU). Posters presented by Dr Wolfram Meier-Augenstein and Dr Helen Kemp on a wide range of forensic applications of stable isotope analysis, attracted great attention, especially from EARTH magazine. Read their blog article here.

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