State-of-the-art research in the life sciences has been greatly facilitated by recent advances in analytical techniques, including new tools for DNA sequencing and determining protein structure. To meet future challenges in life sciences research, development of new bioanalytical technologies are required that provide more sensitive detection, detailed structural information, and higher throughput analyses. For example, new tools that can quantitatively measure multiple compounds (proteins, signaling compounds, and others) will be required to elucidate processes in single cells. Bioanalytical technologies are being developed by many GST faculty, who are applying fundamental concepts from chemistry, physics, and engineering to applications in genome sciences. These analytical tools include mass spectrometry, microfluidic devices, imaging tools, hybridization chips (genosensors), and other techniques being developed in close collaboration with biological scientists.
Mass spectrometry has become one of the most powerful tools in the biological sciences, with applications ranging from detection of drugs in serum to the analysis of proteins. Oak Ridge National Laboratory 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.