Metabolomics, a newly emerging field of ‘omics’ research, is the study of the entire sets of small molecules (termed metabolome, molecular weight < 1500 Da), in a given biological system, such as a cell, organ, whole organism or biofluid. The metabolome is a close counterpart to the genome, the transcriptome and the proteome. Together these four ‘omics’ constitute the building blocks of systems biology. Unlike genes and proteins whose functions are subject to epigenetic regulation and post-translational modifications, respectively, metabolites serve as a direct functional readout of a current cellular state and therefore easier to correlate with phenotype. This fact has made metabolomics particularly useful in the study of environment-gene interactions, the identification of disease biomarkers, and the discovery of drugs.
Mass spectrometry (MS) is an excellent analytical platform to study metabolomics as it is highly sensitive, reproducible and versatile. It measures the masses of metabolites and their fragments to assist in elucidating structure. The goal of our research program is to develop analytical and bioinformatic tools for MS-based metabolomics with a focus on understanding colorectal cancer (CRC) metabolism and seeking its relationship with gut microbiome, environmental exposures, and therapeutics. Our long-term research goal is to drive metabolomics forward and bring it into the toolbox of biological scientists to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of human health and disease.
Our research interests include:
- Integration of metabolomics with other ‘omics’ (epigenomics, genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics) data for the systems-level interrogation of biological problems
- Application of state-of-art metabolomics technologies in various biological challenges, such as mechanistic understanding of cancer metabolism and disease biomarker discovery
- Synergetic development of analytical and bioinformatic techniques to enhance metabolomic coverage and improve the confidence of metabolite identification
Highly motivated students interested in pursuing graduate studies in our research areas are encouraged to contact Dr. Huan (email@example.com) during the application process.
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