Professor David Cowan, King's College London

Under the direction of Prof. David Cowan, The King’s College London Drug Control Centre will be responsible for drug testing all athletes at the 2012 Olympic Games. That translates into 5,000 to 6,000 samples in two weeks, with results back in 24 hours.

Little wonder, Prof. Cowan likes to think of ‘faster, higher, stronger’ as not simply the Olympic motto, but the motto of the Centre as well.

Faster analysis-- Higher sensitivity--Stronger proof.

Dr. Cowan’s illustrious background was a key feature of the successful London 2012 Olympics bid. He was a Visiting Laboratory Director at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, where the first positive result for novel erythropoiesis-stimulating protein (NESP) was discovered, a substance used to increase the delivery of oxygen. He was the senior external international drug expert at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games and 2008 Beijing Olympics, a member of the IOC Medical Commission for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and Vancouver Winter Olympic Games this year. He has served on a number of national and international committees and has published extensively in the field of pharmaceutical analysis especially as it relates to detecting drug administration in sport.

With Prof. Cowan at the helm, the Drug Control Centre conducted the sample analysis during the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games. Professor Cowan was Co-Director of the laboratory for the Malaysian Games in 1998 and in 2006 directed the testing for the Olympic Council for Asia’s 15th Asian Games held in Qatar.

Of particular interest to Prof. Cowan is the value of mass spectrometry in lab analysis. Over the years he has become an ardent user of Waters ACQUITY UPLC®/tandem quadrupole mass spectrometry. He prefers the Waters equipment because of its speed, significantly shorter prep time, notably higher sensitivity.

In fact, Waters and King’s College London have had an extensive research partnership for the last five years to investigate analytical technologies (LC/MS) to improve drug testing in sports, most recently collaborating on how to increase the detection limits in EPO analysis.

Does Prof. Cowan have any bold predictions for the 2012 Games in London?

“New illegal drugs and masking agents arrive almost daily. Today we are able to detect HGH and NESP, which we could not do before. I predict new technology will indeed make us faster, higher, stronger than ever before, ensuring the integrity of the Games and the reputation of this laboratory.”

Prof. Cowan’s Website

Prof. Cowan Talks About His Research and His Relationship With Waters

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