NIST currently coordinates several quality assurance programs that participants use for various purposes, including compliance with federal regulations. Participation in a quality assurance program in conjunction with the use of SRMs has been shown to improve the comparability and precision of data over time, as shown below.
BIOSCIENCE AND HEALTH
The NIST Clinical Quality Assurance Program (ClinQAP) serves two key functions in the clinical measurement community. The first is to support the long-term reliability of micronutrient, vitamin D metabolite, and fatty acid measurements in serum and plasma matrices though the Micronutrients Measurement Quality Assurance Program (MMQAP), the Vitamin D Metabolites Quality Assurance Program (VitDQAP), and the Fatty Acids in Human Serum and Plasma Quality Assurance Program (FAQAP), respectively. Results from the comparison studies help participants to make accurate clinical and health-care decisions as well as to maintain and improve their measurement comparability. The second function of the ClinQAP is to monitor and support the emerging measurement needs of the clinical community and to expand the range of analytes and matrices studied. To learn more about the ClinQAP and to access a questionnaire requesting program feedback from current and potential QAP participants, please click here.
NIST has established a Dietary Supplement Laboratory Quality Assurance Program (DSQAP) in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Participants measure concentrations of active and/or marker compounds and nutritional and toxic elements in samples distributed by NIST. Data are compiled at NIST where they are analyzed for accuracy, precision, and concordance within the community. Reports and certificates of completion are sent to participants, and workshops are held to discuss results as well as methodological advancements in the characterization of dietary supplements.
NIST has established qMet: Quality Assurance Program for Metabolomics to demonstrate and improve the comparability of metabolomics measurements for both clinical research and routine metabolomics testing laboratories through the use of NIST Reference Materials and Data (RMDs) that are assessed by both NIST evaluations and community-based interlaboratory comparisons. The qMet program is designed to evaluate an individual laboratory's capability to determine an appropriate metabolomic profile (both targeted and global profiling or untargeted analysis) in well-defined, homogenous and stable control materials originating from human biofluids and tissues (e.g., plasma, serum, urine, tissue extracts, breast milk). Through this effort, a suite of viable, well-characterized materials and well-defined protocols will be developed that can be employed in routine metabolomics laboratory practice. These materials will then be made available to the community at large as the first in a series of NIST RMDs for metabolomics.
The marine mammal interlaboratory comparison program was initiated in the early 1990s as informal comparisons among NIST, NOAA, and several other laboratories. By 2000 the measurement of trace elements and organic contaminants in marine mammal tissues was formalized in annual or biennial interlaboratory exercises. Since that time, participation has increased dramatically both domestically and internationally. In addition to providing an assessment of interlaboratory measurement comparability, the organic contaminant exercise has also provided information on new constituents, including fatty acids and brominated flame retardants in SRM 1945 Organics in Whale Blubber, which has been used routinely as a control material for the exercises. The trace element exercise has resulted in the development of three trace element control materials from marine mammal livers, a pilot whale liver homogenate in 1991 and beluga whale and pygmy sperm whale liver homogenates in 1997 and 2003, respectively.
The NIST Intercomparison Program for Organic and Inorganic Contaminants in the Marine Environment was established to provide a tool for assessing the interlaboratory and temporal measurement comparability for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners, and chlorinated pesticides in bivalve mollusk, sediment, and fish samples. The program includes components for developing improved analytical methods, producing NIST Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) and other control materials, conducting annual interlaboratory comparison exercises, and coordinating workshops to discuss exercise results.