Even as a young biochemist in the 1980s, Prof. Jeremy Nicholson brimmed with new ideas. In a decade when molecular biology and the human genome project had riveted the attention of the scientific community, Prof. Nicholson was one of the first to embrace the importance of metabolic profiling, and is now Head of one of the largest clinical academic departments in the world. Prof. Nicholson’s current role is to translate advanced spectroscopic techniques for molecular phenotyping into point-of-care clinical practice throughout the entire hospital system. His research involves understanding the role of microbes in regulating human metabolic pathways and how the microbes are involved in drug metabolism toxicity as well as variations in therapeutic responses.
For his work, Nicholson has received numerous honors, including The Royal Society of Chemistry Gold Medal for Analytical Chemistry, the Pfizer Global Chemistry Prize for Chemical Biology and the Semmelweis University – Budapest Prize in Biomedicine.
A major challenge in Professor Nicholson’s work is being able to characterize and classify hundreds of thousands of molecules produced by the metabolic system.
The ACQUITY UPLC® separation system, combined with Waters® high resolution MS systems, has proven to be an invaluable tool for his research. In fact, for this specific type of analysis, the resolution attainable in separating compounds is about four times better than any other commercially available system. Four times higher resolution means more metabolites in a shorter analysis time, which can be very enabling in large population studies. In conjunction with Waters time-of-flight mass spectrometry, Prof. Nicholson and his team at Imperial College have an incredibly powerful analytical tool capable of measuring thousands of molecules at the same time from one sample.
An advantage that will help them impact the future of health care. A future based on personalized medicine where physicians provide a new level of tailored health care; where a simple blood or urine tests will detect the risk of cancer or heart disease early enough to begin preventive therapy; where new drugs, customized to each person’s metabolic profile, target bacteria instead of organs.
“It opens up visions of a future that we would never have suspected even a few years ago,” says Prof. Nicholson. “Many microbiologists might argue that this is fanciful, but you only make huge progress in science by first thinking the unthinkable and then doing it.”
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