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WUSTL Mass Spectrometry Core


This Core provides rigorous mass spectrometry analyses to Diabetes Research Center (DRC) investigators that include quantification as well as structural characterization of diabetes-related biomolecules. The Core increases efficiency and cost effectiveness by providing centralized, standardized analyses to study molecular mechanisms of the pathogenesis of diabetes, its risk factors, and its complications. A major goal of the Core is to promote use of mass spectrometry methods in diabetes research by efforts in training, collaboration, development, service, and dissemination.

Specific objectives of the Core are:

  1. To provide and maintain functional mass spectrometry systems for diabetes-related studies;
  2. To consult with DRC investigators on application of mass spectrometry to advance their research programs;
  3. To perform service-related mass spectrometry analyses for diabetes investigators, such as quantifying target analytes, obtaining spectra for structural identification, and assisting with mass spectra interpretation;
  4. To develop new mass spectrometry methods; and
  5. To provide training to students and fellows in principles and use of mass spectrometry systems.

Core Evolution

From the inception of DRC in 1977, the Center has leveraged the infrastructure and expertise of the institutional Mass Spectrometry Core Laboratory. In 2010, Washington University provided additional institutional resources to establish a Metabolomics Facility to address a growing demand among investigators for targeted metabolomic services that broadly assess diverse metabolic pathways and provide precise quantification of pathway metabolites. The need for this type of high-throughput analytical service particularly among DRC investigators was quickly recognized, and over the past 5 years, the DRC initiated an expansion and restructuring of its Mass Spectrometry Core to incorporate strengths of the Metabolomics Facility. Accordingly, with renewal of the DRC in 2017, the Core will transition to become the DRC Metabolomics Core under the combined leadership of Director Daniel Ory and Associate Director John Turk.


Targeted metabolomic analysis (GC/MS and LC-MS/MS)

We quantify low molecular weight organic biomolecules including fatty acids and related molecules; small organics; amino acids; carbohydrates; sterols, isoprenoids and polyols; glycerolipids; cardiolipins; sphingolipids; nucleosides and nucleotides; oxidative stress metabolites; and drug and natural product metabolites. In all, the core has expertise in routine characterization and quantification of >1400 small molecule metabolites.

Structural analysis and identification

The Core assists investigators in identifying unknown molecules from biological extracts by MS methods (ESI/MS/MSn) and interpreting mass spectra.

Validated assay development

The Core provides access to validated assays required for quantitative analysis of large sample sets from diabetes-related clinical studies and trials. We also develop FDA-compliant validated assays needed for measurement of analytes for clinical trials.

Qualitative flux analysis

Flux analysis is performed in vitro or in vivo using stable isotope-labeled tracers and LC-MS/MS to monitor isoptologue composition of targeted metabolites and enable tracking of metabolic flux through pathways.

Training of DRC investigators

The Core instructs DRC members and their laboratory personnel in the principles of various modes of MS and their applicability to analyses of biological samples and in the preparation of samples for MS analyses. Because MS analyses require specialized skills, it is more economical and practical for MSCL/Metabolomics staff to perform most analyses, but members of users’ laboratories are trained to perform some procedures, particularly if requirements are large and sustained.

Core People

Core Director
Xuntian Jiang PhD WUSTL Mass Spectrometry Core Email