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LGC organizes international collaboration on certified reference materials

The international Biological and Environmental Reference Materials 12 symposium, which was organized by LGC in conjunction with the BERM committee, was opened by Lord Drayson, UK Minister for Science and Innovation.

The importance of measurement science is reflected in the UK Government’s annual investment of approximately £60 million on measurement infrastructure across a range of technical areas and an estimated €80,000 million (£70,000 million) spent on measurements annually in the European Union.

Collaboration between institutes from different countries was a key recurring feature of many of the presentations at the Biological and Environmental Reference Materials (BERM) 12 symposium, and Dr Derek Craston, UK Government Chemist, commented: ‘No one country’s measurement system can provide all certified reference materials (CRMs). International collaboration is vital because it avoids wasteful duplication and plugs important gaps.’

This was exemplified by joint presentations in the area of bioscience. For example, LGC presented its work in collaboration with Physikalisch- Technische Bundesanstalt in Germany, the European Commission, Joint Research Centre, IRMM in Belgium and the National Physical Laboratory in the UK, which will help establish traceable reference measurement systems for complex biomolecules such as proteins. Meanwhile, a joint scientific endeavour between LGC and the US National Institute of Standards and Technology was the recipient of a prize based on their efforts for the production of serum-based reference materials for hormones. These will enable comparability of in vitro diagnostic and clinical measurements that will improve patient care, testing, accuracy and reliability and, in the long run, will reduce costs.

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology and National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality of Brazil are working together to develop reference materials in the area of biofuels. These reference materials will benchmark the measurements of both chemical and physical properties of biofuels. They will also help determine concentrations of crucial by-products of the biofuel production process that can cause engine problems if not removed.

Held at Keble College, Oxford, on 8–10 July, the BERM 12 symposium was the first BERM symposium to be held in the UK. The event attracted more than 150 delegates from 26 countries.

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