Estella Soledad Cerutti performs an experiment with the mass spectrometer. Cerutti, a Fulbright scholar, is the first chemistry Ph.D. at the University of Florida specializing in global metabolomics.

Above: Estella Soledad Cerutti performs an experiment with the mass spectrometer. Cerutti, a Fulbright scholar, is the first chemistry Ph.D. at the University of Florida specializing in global metabolomics.

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Chemistry Joins Forces with UF’s Clinical Translational Science
Institute (CTSI)

The University of Florida has won the National Institutes of Health's Clinical and Translational Science Award, one of only 60 institutions to be named to the consortium and the only one in the state of Florida – the Department of Chemistry is playing a key part.

Over the next five years, the university will receive nearly $26 million to promote discovery and basic science and transform those breakthroughs into medical advances for patients.

Since 2007, the High Resolution Mass Spectrometry Core in the Department of Chemistry has been collaborating on research through the CTSI Metabolomics Core, which comprises four analytical facilities across campus and the biostatistics core in the health center. The Metabolomics Core provides biomarker identification and quantification for biomedical and biochemical research throughout the university.

Dr. David Powell, the Director of both the Spectrometry Core and the CTSI Metabolomics core, sees a great potential for the research.

“Metabolomics studies are not limited to human health and show great promise of benefiting a wide variety of research across campus, while also stimulating development of new technologies and collaborations in CLAS” said Powell.

Metabolomics is a relatively rapidly developing field building off the remarkable sensitivity and rich information content that two analytical chemistry technologies provide - nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Using mass spectrometry, the Core can detect and quantify the concentration of nearly 3,000 compounds in a third of a drop of blood. Differences in the concentration of these 3,000 compounds in plasma or other tissue are determined, and high-powered statistics are employed to find patterns of chemical constituents. These patterns can delineate the blood plasma of healthy versus unhealthy people.

This approach has the potential to not only alter the diagnosis of disease, but also to point the way to biological mechanisms of disease and many other areas of research in translational medicine and beyond.

The Core is currently collaborating with the College of Nursing to find biomarkers for autism in children. Two other studies in conjunction with the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are looking at the effects of a very high fat diet (called the ketogenic diet) on the blood plasma of healthy adults, and the changes in blood plasma constituents during the first week of life.

The first chemistry Ph.D. specializing in global metabolomics will be awarded this month.

Contact

Writer

David Powell, Jeff Stevens

Media Contact

David Powell, Ph.D., Director of Spectroscopic Services, Department of Chemistry
powell@chem.ufl.edu

Photo

Courtesy High Resolution Mass Spectrometry Core

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