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Using Metabolomics to Improve Understanding of Human Health, Disease and Toxicology

Using metabolic pathways to identify targets for prognosis, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Published: 8th September 2016
Using Metabolomics to Improve Understanding of Human Health, Disease and Toxicology
Please note, header image is purely illustrative. Source: Jun-Flickr-CCbySA2.0


The Phenome Centre Birmingham has been developed as part of an £8m collaboration between the Medical Research Council, Industry and the University of Birmingham as a state-of-the-art metabolic phenotyping facility to conduct small and large-scale studies in medicine, stratified medicine and toxicology. The centre provides expertise in targeted and untargeted assays to study endogenous and exogenous metabolites in biological systems.

Through collaborative research with its partners and clients, the centre will improve mechanistic understanding of human diseases and ageing, identify targets for interventions and provide approaches for stratified medicine for prognosis, diagnosis and treatment.

The Centre is primarily located in the School of Biosciences and the Henry Wellcome Building for Biomolecular NMR Spectroscopy at the University of Birmingham with capabilities for targeted assay deployment in clinical trials based at the Institute of Translational Medicine in Birmingham.

Technology Overview

The centre offers an end-to-end collaborative service, providing expertise and advice to perform metabolic phenotyping studies (metabolomics) from conception and experimental design through to data acquisition, data analysis and biological interpretation.

A diverse range of sample-types are studied at the centre, including serum, plasma, urine, other biofluids (e.g. CSF), tissues (e.g. liver, muscle) and cell lines. An analytical pipeline combines state-of-the-art nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and high resolution mass spectrometry with ultra-high-performance chromatography to produce data reporting absolute or relative concentrations of thousands of metabolites.

The centre offers targeted assays, developed or tailored according to any requirements, for pre-defined sets of metabolites. Data processing and statistical analysis is undertaken using univariate and multivariate statistical analysis packages to robustly discover metabolites that contribute to the difference related to a biological / clinical question.

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The Phenome Centre Birmingham allows collaborators and clients to:

  • Understand the molecular mechanisms associated with human ageing, disease onset and progression.
  • Identify molecular targets for nutritional, exercise or drug interventions.
  • Identify metabolic markers for the stratification of human populations to be applied in risk stratification of developing a specific disease, diagnosis of a disease, defining progression or remission from a disease.
  • Identify responders or non-responders to nutritional, exercise or drug interventions.

The Phenome Centre Birmingham provides expertise in all aspects of a study, undertaking robust statistical analysis and working with collaborators and clients to extract meaningful biological knowledge from complex data sets.


Research in precision medicine, stratified medicine, drug discovery, biomarker discovery – particularly relevant to the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sectors; academia nationally and internationally; contract research organisations.


The centre is seeking collaborative and contract research opportunities from both the public and private sectors.