History
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Lab Services/Capabilities
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History


The Analytical Service Laboratory (ASL) was established in 1977 to provide general analytical services to IRRI research programs at subsidized rates. ASL was organized from among several but separate analytical laboratories in IRRI to minimize duplication of analytical equipment, optimize space and personnel utilization in many departments, and to handle large numbers of chemical analysis in a single facility using automated systems. Although, ASL operated with its own budget and staff, it was administratively placed initially under the Chemistry Department with an Advisory Committee appointed by the Director General in charge of making the policies and setting the guidelines for its operation.

From its auspicious beginning up to its present status as the first PNS/ ISO/IEC 17025 accredited analytical testing laboratory in IRRI, ASL has gone through a number of transformations and changes. In 1978, after just a year of its operation, a review of ASL was conducted by Dr. John A. Varley, ASL consultant, who identified a number of problem areas related to its operations. Among these is ASL user's efficiency and sample preparation facilities. As a result of this review, the administration approved the Advisory Committee's recommendation for ASL to take over the operation of the sample preparation rooms. Likewise, the review of ASL's analytical equipment and methodologies was deemed necessary in order to cope with the ever-growing number of analysis.

The Analytical Service Laboratory (ASL) at that time was composed of four units - the Chemical Analysis Laboratory, the Mass Spectrometry and Radioisotope Laboratories (added in 1981), and the Pesticide Residue Laboratory (transferred to ASL in 1991).  It occupied the eastern corner of the F.F. Hill Building before it was moved to the CPS Building (formerly the Chemical Storage Building) in 1981. ASL moved to its present facilities in the Kenzo Hemmi Laboratory in early 1992.

In 1993, the ASL Advisory Committee reviewed the scope, focus, and efficiency of the services provided by the ASL and recommended that the Pesticide Residue Laboratory be phased out.  ASL was reorganized into four sub laboratories, namely, the Plant & Soil Laboratory (PSL), the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory (MSL), the Radioisotope Laboratory (RL) and the User Laboratory (UL).  Throughout its operation, ASL had offered the following services:

Throughout its operation, ASL has offered the following services:
Soil Analysis
Plant Analysis
Water Analysis

In 1993, ASL completed l77, 673 analyses of samples generated by IRRI's research programs and special projects.

In 1997 ASL was placed under the Soil and Water Sciences Division (SWSD) following a review of ASL?s operations to explore opportunities for automation and increased efficiency. In addition, ASL worked to improve its analytical methods and upgrade its data management system.

In May 2004, ASL underwent a Center Commissioned Peer Review that covered the function, management, operation and modalities of ASL to ensure that ASL is fulfilling its role in serving the mission and research agenda of IRRI. The review looked into the financial chargeback policies, management and efficiency in operation and sufficiency of analytical protocols and equipment. The review covered a 5-year record of its four laboratories, the Plant & Soil Lab (PSL), the Radioisotope Lab (RIL), the User Lab (UL) and the Mass Spectrometer Lab (MSL). The review panel came up with 19 recommendations on the following concerns:

ASL performance, quality assurance and safety
Restructuring of ASL and consolidation of organic analytical capability at IRRI
Enhancing service and training capacities of the Plant & Soil Laboratory
Improving methodologies
Staff development
Ancilliary matters

Following the above review, the User Laboratory (UL) was phased out.  ASL under the Crops and Environmental Sciences Division (CESD) and in pursuit of the above recommendations, ASL embarked on a development plan that includes improvement of its performance, improving methodologies, upgrading the quality assurance of test results,  skill upgrading of its staff, enhancing service and training capacities, improvement of data management system, etc. In 2005, it started the development of ASL quality management system aimed at improving the quality of its test results, upgrading staff competency, and qualifying for accreditation with the international standard ISO 17025, the hall mark of quality assurance in chemical testing. Through the indefatigable effort and firm determination of the laboratory management and cooperation of the staff, ASL was able to hurdle all the challenges toward its goal of accreditation. After five years of hard work and unswerving commitment, ASL got its certificate of Accreditation as a Testing Laboratory under ISO 17025 which was awarded by the Philippine Accreditation Office on Nov. 23, 2010.

Presently, ASL consists of four sections, the Plant & Soil Laboratory (PSL) , the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory (MSL), Equipment and Database Management Section (EDMS) and the Radioisotope Laboratory (RL). . These Laboratories provide routine standard analysis for plant and soil research, laboratory facilities for handling and analysis of radioisotope-labelled compounds and   facilities for plant and soil samples preparation. ASL also serves as IRRI's Liaison unit with the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), the regulatory body for the use of radioisotope and the facilities used in radiotracer experiments, as well as radioactive waste disposal.

In Feb. 2011, ASL was placed administratively under the Grain Quality and Nutrition Center (GQNC).




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