The Malta Independent 7 July 2020, Tuesday

Maltese doctor tops LabRoots Scavenger Hunts

Monday, 14 October 2019, 14:29 Last update: about 10 months ago

Michelle (k/a Mikhaila) Muscat, a Maltese doctor of medicine and surgery and chemical pathology specialist, won the ‘Forensics and Toxicology’ scavenger hunt and was the top point leader on the Leaderboard in the ‘Microbiology and Immunology’ scavenger hunt organised by LabRoots, an international pioneer in scientific international worldwide events.

LabRoots are based in Orange County, California but deliver scientific content worldwide.


Analytical toxicology deals mainly with analysis of drugs, overdoses, heavy metals and various other poisons. Immunology is the medico-scientific study of the immune system and its various aspects such as for example when disease arises after the body’s natural defence no longer discriminates between self and non-self, as well as other phenomena such as allergies.

Muscat was mentored in Malta by Professor Michael Sammut during her period of training. The Toxicology Unit in Malta was established at Saint Luke’s Hospital in the early 1980s by Professor Sammut who was the person in charge of the toxicology laboratories for over 30 years till his retirement. For decades, Professor Michael Sammut and the Toxicology Unit were involved in clinical, occupational, forensic as well as environmental toxicology.

In the UK, Muscat extracted biological samples and worked on an analytical method in the setting of non-adherence on a specialised instrument known as a Q-TOF in the toxicology laboratory, and a poster of that work was presented at the Precision Medicine 2018 conference. She collated data on drug pharmacokinetics which refers to how drugs move in the body and is listed as co-author in an abstract in the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2019.

The popular Maltese medical magazine, TheSynapse is currently publishing a series authored by Muscat on Toxicology Briefs, which covers various drugs including the lesser-known ones. Certain previous reviews of hers also touched upon environmental toxicology. Two toxicology related pieces she wrote are accepted for publication in the prominent American journal Clinical Chemistry, one called ‘A Toxic Place to Be’.

A further toxicology related piece has been published in The Indian journal Research & Humanities in Medical Education (RHiME) and another scheduled for upcoming publication.  A piece she wrote on the ‘Manchineel Apple of Death’ recently appeared as Letter to the Editor in The Journal of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EJIFCC).

Other diverse endeavours range from local articles such as ‘Poisons… a deadly weapon’ in the Times and a review of the ‘The Portrayal of Drugs in NANA’ published on Malta Comic Con website. She wrote a chapter on Toxicology in the book she authored ‘A Multifaceted Tinge of Chemical Pathology: A Survival Guide to Clinical Biochemistry & Laboratory Medicine’.

Muscat received training on various immunoassay laboratory techniques and prescribed monoclonal antibodies, PCSK9 inhibitors and denosumab, to target groups whilst Specialty Registrar in the UK.  In the past, she had undertaken an immunology project on substances that are produced by cells of the immune system, called cytokines, and their involvement in the immune gene network.

She jointly authored a series of articles on immunological related conditions being published mostly in Italy, on occasion locally, where her area of focus was the laboratory aspect, whereas another specialist doctor Dr N. Pennisi explored the radiological diagnostic aspect.


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