U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Metabolic Processes & Env Signatures (Metabolomics)

A cell.

Identify the flux, exchange, and character of metabolites, lipids and related chemicals in biological systems and in the environment

Life is sustained by chemical transformations within cells. They provide energy, eliminate waste, and create proteins, lipids, and other biologically critical substances. 

Metabolism—all this cellular breaking down and building up—creates metabolites, small molecules that are the end products of cellular processes. The chemical fingerprints metabolites leave behind provide a picture of a cell’s physiology. Studying them is called metabolomics.

Our researchers characterize metabolites, lipids, and other interrelated chemicals to investigate fluxes and exchange mechanisms in search of molecular mechanisms that promote cellular function and reveal disease pathogenesis.

As they search, our researchers are developing computational tools to identify and quantify metabolites that are subsequently archived in ultra-fast and accurate metabolomics libraries.

Metabolites are considerably more complex and heterogeneous than genes or proteins. The technical challenges of understanding them requires interdisciplinary expertise in bioinformatics, biochemistry, physiology, and spectrometry.

These challenges also require our diverse, specialized technologies for metabolic analysis, including varieties of coupled chromatography and mass spectrometry.


Dr. Young-Mo Kim is a senior bioanalytical chemist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Dr. Kim received his Ph.D. from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH, Pohang, South Korea) in the School of Environmental Science and...
Tom Metz is a Principal Investigator within the Integrative Omics group at PNNL and the Metabolomics Team Lead for a group of scientists that focuses on development and applications of high throughput metabolomics and lipidomics methods to various...
Dr. Cannon is author of more than 50 technical publications in modeling and simulation, data analysis and proteomics. His graduate work was in statistical thermodynamics in the laboratory of J. Andrew McCammon studying molecular recognition proteins...
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