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How knowledge of HPLC can enhance my career prospects?

Separation of components of mixtures of compounds and their quantification has remained a challenging task for the analytical chemist. The scope of compounds that could be separated was limited in the early days and more so there were severe limitations when the amounts present were small in nanogram or lower ranges. Chromatography came to the rescue of the analytical chemist and HPLC turned out to be a boon in the past few decades. The vast choice of columns, stationary packing phases, combinations of the different mobile phase solvents and improvements in detection limits led to a significant increase in  applicationof HPLCin diverse areas. Developments in sample extraction techniques also made handling of complex sample matrices such as naturally occurring bio-molecules, bio- analytical samples and commercial synthetic products.


It is desirable to have clear concepts and understanding of common analytical techniques, laboratory safety and basic subjectknowledge for a laboratory scientist but knowledge of chromatography and HPLC, in particular ,is considered to be an asset by most of the employers. This situation has arisen due to the vast area of applications which have emerged and several new developments are reported almost daily.

Due to its widespread popularity several reputed manufacturers offer commercial HPLC systems. It is not possible for any individual to be familiar with the software features and operational details of all available systems but an understanding of thesystem modules will be a definite help to pick up such details in time of need.

The objective of the present article is to expose you to various career options that hold promise for an entrant with a good understanding of HPLC.

Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical industry is today the largest market for HPLC systems with an impressive share touching around 40% of global HPLC market. The present trend is an indicator that HPLC will dominate the pharmaceuticals sector in the coming time as well.Potential areas of application include new drug development, method development and validation, stability studies on formulations, bio- availability andbioequivalencestudies and
clinical studies.

Life sciences

HPLC has contributed significantly in monitoring biochemical reactions and manufacturing processes. Characterization of proteins, peptides, lipids and nucleic acids are other popular  applicationareas.

Foods and beverages

Foods and beveragesare the next major segment which holds  promise of applications in testing of blends, drug residues, colouring additives and adulterants. HPLC is also applied for shelf life studies of synthetic foods and beverages.

Environmental monitoring

Environmental monitoring includes analysis of organics, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and similar compounds in industrial effluents and drinking water.

Synthetic polymeric materials

HPLC with its vast options of columns and detectors offers a potential scope of applications in development and quality control of polymeric materials over a large range of molecular weights. It also serves to calculate molecular weight determination and distribution in polymeric blends.

Agriculture

 HPLC has resulted in several developments in analysis  of pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers.  It is a sensitive technique for analysis of pesticide residues in fruits, grains and vegetables

If you ever get an opportunity to walk into any modern laboratory you are likely to come across dozens of HPLC systems whereas there could be only single number of UV- VIS, AAS, ICP or other sophisticated instruments. This validates the fact that there are more number of career openings for laboratory entrants familiar with HPLC principles and operation.