The overarching goal of the Analytical Core is to improve the capacity, quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of environmental disease research at the University of Kentucky (UK). This will be achieved by providing UK-Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Science (UK-CARES) researchers with premium access to expert advice, consultation and technical support to develop and validate analytical methods using state-of-the-art technologies for studies spanning the range of environmental disease research areas represented in the center. These services are needed to detect and measure environmental pollutants and biomarkers of environmental exposures, which requires sophisticated instrumentation and technical expertise that is unavailable to individual investigators.
Our partner facility cores, the Small Molecule Mass Spectrometry Core laboratory (SMMSC) and Resource Center for Stable Isotope Resolved Metabolomics (RC-SIRM), can provide the entire range of analytical capabilities required for state-of-the-art environmental disease research. However, effective use of these facilities by environmental disease researchers often requires new method development, validation and pilot studies to establish analyte levels and technical reproducibility. The properties of the target analytes and the need to measure them at low levels in environmental and biological samples frequently present unique challenges for sample preparation.
With validated analytical methods in hand data analysis can be challenging, particularly since biological and health outcomes are dictated by exposures to multiple agents often requiring precise, accurate and simultaneous measurements of multiple analytes or biomarkers of environmental exposures and informatics approaches to enable integrated analysis of large data sets. The Analytical Core addresses these limitations by providing consultation in the design, execution and interpretation of studies that require use of advanced analytical instrumentation for environmental disease research. The core staff will then develop and validate sample preparation and analytical methods for detection and quantitation of environmental pollutants and biomarkers in complex samples and provide consultation and assistance with statistical methods for the analysis of datasets generated using these analytical methods.
Finally the Analytical Core will provide education and training in analytical and data analysis methods for environmental disease research through personal outreach, courses and workshops, enabling integration of analytical and metabolomics technologies into the research of UK-CARES members. Overall, the Analytical Core will add considerable value to environmental disease research at UK by leveraging existing institutional and NIH investments in research infrastructure to achieve the goals of our UK-CARES research team.