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Centre for Metabolomics Research

Metabolomics is the study of the small molecules that are involved in cellular metabolism. We apply metabolomics to all areas of biology with an aim to understand systems at the cellular, tissue and whole organism level

The Centre for Metabolomic Research (CMR) is part of the Department of Biochemistry and Systems Biology and we are based on the Liverpool campus in the Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology (ISMIB)

We develop robust and reproducible metabolomics platforms that can be used in human, plant and microbial studies and have generated metabolomics standards and procedures (SOPs) that have been very well received by the metabolomics community (nature article).  We apply metabolomics to all areas of biology with an aim to understand systems at the cellular, tissue and whole organism level.

We have strong interdisciplinary skills that are complementary in nature as metabolomics is a multidisciplinary science that spans different areas of biology, analytical chemistry and computer sciences.


Metabolomics is the study of the small molecules that are involved in cellular metabolism.  This is a biochemical discipline that can be used to address many different biological questions and involves measurement of intracellular metabolites, as well as those found in the medium outside cells (footprinting/exometabolome), or in circulatory fluids (viz. serum, plasma, urine, etc).  To achieve this we use complementary bioanalytical platforms as well as informatics for interpretation of the multivariate data generated.  In the CMR we are developing and applying a variety of analytical approaches including those based on mass spectrometry (MS) and Raman and infrared microscopy.


In mass spectrometry we currently perform:

  • LC-MS where we focus on reversed phase for the analysis of lipophilic species; this is performed on our Thermo Q Exactive, Orbitrap ID-X Tribrid, or Agilent ion mobility MS system, for untargeted metabolite analysis.
  • LC-triple quad systems from Thermo Fortis and Agilent which are dedicated for the quantification of target metabolites.
  • GC-MS incorporating just in time derivatization (methoximation and silylation) is used for the analysis of polar, non-volatile metabolites.
  • TD-GC-MS for the analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

For Raman and infrared analysis of tissues and single cells we employ:

  • Spontaneous Raman with 785 nm excitation on our Renishaw inViva system.
  • Coherent Raman methods including CARS (coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering) and SRS (stimulated Raman scattering) for imaging specific vibrations on our Leica multipurpose microscope system.
  • Optical photothermal infrared spectroscopy on a mIRage, from Photothermal Spectroscopy Corporation, which is capable of imaging resolution of 500 nm, and is combined with spontaneous Raman with 532 nm excitation.
  • In addition, we have a number of handheld and portable Raman systems and spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS) for through barrier analysis.


In addition to technology and informatics developments, we conduct our own research in many different areas including:

  • Heath and disease, as well as diagnostics, in human and mammalian systems.
  • Microbiology including adaptation and response to human drugs and antibiotics, as well as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • Drug transport into cells and distributions of drugs and drug metabolites within tissues.
  • Functional genomics analyses for assigning function to genes and so bridging genomics to biological systems.
  • Synthetic biology applications focusing on the production of desirable high-value products.
  • Food security, concentrating on microbial spoilage and pathogen contamination.
  • Plant systems for enhancing crop yields or production of other desirable traits.
  • Invertebrate systems for environmental and evolutionary biology.

The nature of metabolomics means that we are keen to collaborate and learn about new biological challenges, both within the University of Liverpool and outside with other academics and companies.  Our teams can provide advice on experimental design and discuss how we can best tackle new research areas together to achieve your research goals.

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