Research summary

Research Interests

• Analytical tools for metabolomics
• Applications of metabolomics to functional genomics
• Metabolomics and yeast systems biology
• Woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca) as a model for fruit functional genomics
• Metabolomics and cancer
• Application of metabolomics to study gene function in Arabidopsis

Research Overview

Metabolomics involves the global analysis of all cellular metabolites, which are small-molecule products of the chemical processes occurring in living organisms. This type of analysis is becoming more popular in genomics research, complementing other commonly used techniques to look at genes and proteins on a large scale. Although metabolomics has emerged as a powerful tool for functional genomics, it is now being applied to other areas. For example, metabolomics is being used by researchers to study mutant phenotypes, evaluate responses to environmental stress, further drug discovery work and conduct human disease and nutrition research. Metabolomics is also being applied as a systems biology tool.
 
Our  Research Group is interested in developing metabolomics technology and applying high-throughput metabolite profiling to study stress response in microorganisms, plants and animals. We are working on  the use of a systems biology approach to study the oxidative stress response in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The group is also performing functional genomic studies of fruit crops using Fragaria vesca (woodland strawberry) as a model. Fruit contain a large number of beneficial phytochemicals such as antioxidants and anticancer agents.
 
Our group is identifying the genes involved in the biosynthesis and regulation of these phytochemicals, as well as novel compounds with potential health benefits. In other projects, the group is studying the early stages of transformation of normal cells to cancerous cells (malignancy) in human breast epithelial cells using a combination of mass spectrometry-based metabolomics and transcriptomic approaches. The group also collaborates with Johns Hopkins University on a National Institutes of Health-funded project to study malaria. We are also looking at the application of metabolomics to study gene function in the commonly used model plant Arabidopsis.