Jennifer Kirwan named head of the BIH Metabolomics Core Facility

Mass spectrometry metabolomics at the MDC now has a second leg to stand on: On October 1, Dr. Jennifer Kirwan took up her position as the new head of the Metabolomics Core Facility of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), which is situated at the MDC. Dr. Stefan Kempa, who has been in charge until now, will continue to head the Metabolomics Core Facility within BIMSB.

Jennifer originally trained and practiced as a veterinarian. Before arriving at BIH, she managed a metabolomics facility at the University of Birmingham, where she did similar work – using mass spectrometry to analyze metabolic products. In the facility she investigated everything from the prediction of outcomes in liver transplant patients to improving treatment decisions in cases of brain damage in babies.

Jennifer's focus has been applying this method to metabolic research where there is a real potential for clinical applications. "I am particularly interested in how metabolic changes we observe in diseases can contribute to our understanding of their aetiology and the discovery of new treatments," the scientist says. From a technical point of view, Jennifer is interested in the metabolomics pipeline as a whole, from good experimental design all the way through to data processing to optimize results. She was involved with the validation and implementation of a batch correction algorithm (QCRSC) developed by Prof David Broadhurst, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup which can be used to improve the robustness of data quality and thus the reliability of experimental results.

"Over the next five years, working in close conjunction with the other BIH facilities, I hope to expand the services to offer a full systems biology approach to analyses of complex diseases,“ Jennifer says. One step she is planning is to enhance existing methods and to develop new ones that will expand the breadth of coverage of the metabolome coverage, the reproducibility of experiments and the robustness of the analytical results.

Featured image: BIH/Christian Kruppa