PhD Student in Chemical Biology

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Supervisor: Philip Britz-McKibbin

What is your research about?

My current research involves the use of Capillary Electrophoresis-Mass Spectrometry (CE-MS) as an analytical technique to perform metabolomics. Metabolomics is a recently emerging field within the “omics” subdisciplines (i.e. proteomics, genomics) that involves the study of metabolites within biological systems. This is typically achieved through modulating metabolite responses in analyzing an array of biological specimen. My research focuses on the analysis of mammalian tissue such as skeletal muscle; this is otherwise known as tissue-based metabolomics.

What is the goal of your research?

The ultimate goal of my research is to use metabolomics as a systematic approach to elucidate unknown biochemical mechanisms in response to environmental stressors (i.e. exercise, dietary interventions) that currently remain unknown or are poorly understood.

Why does your research matter?

Our bodies are composed of thousands of metabolites that serve important roles to maintain homeostasis. Dynamic changes in metabolites often reflect our body’s response to external stressors; for instance, excess amounts of a certain metabolite may be indicative of a specific metabolic disorder. Evidently, metabolites are small yet informative molecules that can be used to gain further insights into biochemical mechanisms that play crucial roles in certain metabolic outcomes that affect human health such as the manifestation of certain diseases. By elucidating these fundamental mechanisms, it can better shape our understanding in various areas such as medicine, toxicology and cell biology.

What do you enjoy most about your research?

What excites me the most about metabolomics is that this new, exciting field is applicable and crucial in various areas of research from drug development to food safety to clinical diagnostics. There are many questions in these areas that have remain to be answered. In a holistic manner, metabolomics with other “omics” approaches can help enhance our understanding in these areas and answer many questions that remain unknown. Knowing that metabolomics research can contribute to not only one, but multiple areas of research, in answering these underlying but fundamental questions excites me each and everyday.