Strategies and Standards for High-throughput, Long-term, Non-targeted Metabolome Analysis of Human Biofluids – PHRT


Strategies and Standards for High-throughput, Long-term, Non-targeted Metabolome Analysis of Human Biofluids

Short Summary

Metabolomics is a technique that allows to quantify in parallel the content of thousands of metabolites in liquids and tissues. Because of its extreme sensitivity, the technique is very prone to batch effects or day-to-day variability. In this project, we develop procedures and software to attain long-term reproducibility of metabolomics data. This will enable to compare measurements that have been collected distant in time.


The project builds on a preexisting but unique platform for high-throughput and non-targeted metabolomics. We established the system over the past 10 years and have analyzed more than 1’000’000 samples. Here, we aim at introducing innovations and standards that enable long-term, longitudinal, and multi-center metabolomics studies of plasma, serum, and urine samples. Specifically, we aim at developing computational and experimental approaches for the characterization of instruments, for the calibration of metabolites, and for normalization of samples in absence of internal standards.


Combined with the inherent speed, broad coverage, and competitive costs of our existing metabolomics platform, the project paves the road to the use of broad-scope, flexible, interoperable, cutting-edge metabolomics screening in a clinical context. This ideally complements genomics, i.e. in the characterization of metabolic disorders.


Metabolomics aims at the analysis of organic molecules (e.g. metabolites, lipids, drugs, environmental contaminants) in biological samples. Metabolomics offers unique translational opportunities in personalized health, e.g. in biomarker discovery, newborn screening, drug development, or even for guiding in real-time surgical interventions. Metabolomics is enabled by a technology named mass spectrometry, which combines exceptional sensitivity and parallel analysis of thousands of metabolites at once. Mass spectrometry is a mainstay of modern biomedical research, but its use in clinical is limited to targeted analyses of few compounds and samples.

Technology Translation

Prof. Dr. Nicola Zamboni

ETH Zurich


In Progress

Funded by