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Analytical Technologies for Bioenergy and the Environment

mass_spec

State-of-the-art research in the life sciences has been greatly facilitated by advances in analytical techniques, including new tools for DNA sequencing, for resolving the structures of proteins and protein complexes, and for measuring the abundance and dynamics of proteins and metabolites. GST faculty and students are actively engaged in advancing the measurement capabilities through advanced imaging technologies such as confocal and super-resolution microscopy, single-molecule microscopy using total internal reflection fluorescence, and novel tomography methods for the 3D reconstruction of organelles and cells. Moreover, nanofabrication of microfluidic devices is available to investigate problems in a manner that saves resources and reagents, allows high throughput multiplexing of experimental replicates, and mimics the scale of biological cells. The Spallation Neutron Source on the ORNL campus is a singular resource to investigate the structures of proteins and other biomolecules.

The trend to investigate complex systems at multiple scales, from the molecular to the organismal, and using multiple complementary datasets, i.e. (meta)genome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome and phenome, continues to gather momentum. The stage to meet future challenges is set when a thorough understanding of physical and chemical principles is married with a hypothesis-driven approach to solving complex biological questions.

ORNL is home to one of the world’s premier mass spectrometry research centers. Research is conducted in fundamental and applied areas of biological mass spectrometry. Particular emphasis has been placed in trapped ion techniques, such as Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance and quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometries. Ionization methods, such as electrospray and matrix-assisted laser desorption, are being studied to expand the fundamental understanding of the techniques and to expand the applicability of mass spectrometry to a broader range of bioanalysis problems.

These experimental technologies are augmented by state of the art data analytics in bioinformatics, mathematical modeling, and biophysical simulations. The Advanced Computing Facility (ACF) offers access to some of the highest performing supercomputers available to academic researchers anywhere.