Awards Recognizing the Achievements of Young Researchers

Metabolites 2023 Young Investigator Award

We extend our congratulations to Dr. Tao Huan, the TMIC node leader at UBC, for being awarded the Metabolites 2023 Young Investigator Award. Dr. Huan currently serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of British Columbia, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada. His research interests primarily revolve around the development of analytical methods, processing metabolomics data, and annotating metabolites. Dr. Huan earned his PhD in 2015 and boasts an impressive publication track record, with 82 articles published in esteemed peer-reviewed international journals. His scholarly contributions have garnered considerable attention, evidenced by his Scopus scientific citations totaling 3175 and a Hirsch index of 27. Dr. Huan is recognized as a rising star in the field of metabolomics. Additionally, as a co-applicant, he has successfully secured funding exceeding CAD 13 million since 2018, marking a remarkable achievement in today’s competitive research landscape. We join in celebrating Dr. Huan’s exceptional accomplishments.

Dr. Tao Huan’s research centres on the advancement of analytical and bioinformatic tools for MS-based metabolomics, particularly in the context of investigating colorectal cancer (CRC) metabolism. His focus extends to exploring the interplay between CRC metabolism, the gut microbiome, environmental factors, and therapeutic interventions. The overarching objective of his long-term research is to propel the field of metabolomics forward and integrate it into the arsenal of biological scientists, thereby fostering a deeper comprehension of human health and disease. This work intersects with exposomics, aiming to elucidate the complex relationships between environmental exposures and metabolic processes. Dr. Huan’s node offers Exposomics Assay for Complex Biosamples, which is an untargeted profiling and characterization by UHPLC-HRMS (QTOF MS) of the entire set of endogenous metabolites and chemical exposures for teeth, bone, urine, hair surface, and hair strand

His research interests:

  • Integration of metabolomics with other ‘omics’ (epigenomics, genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics) data for the systems-level interrogation of biological problems
  • Application of state-of-art metabolomics technologies in various biological challenges, such as mechanistic understanding of cancer metabolism and disease biomarker discovery
  • Synergetic development of analytical and bioinformatic techniques to enhance metabolomic coverage and improve the confidence of metabolite identification

Some publications by Dr. Huan on metabolomics tools:

BUDDY: molecular formula discovery via bottom-up MS/MS interrogation, a paper in Nature Methods that focuses on the development of a novel method for discovering molecular formulas using bottom-up MS/MS interrogation. This tool is invaluable for researchers in metabolomics, enabling precise identification of molecular compounds.

ChloroDBPFinder: Machine Learning-Guided Recognition of Chlorinated Disinfection Byproducts from Nontargeted LC-HRMS Analysis introduces a machine learning-guided approach for identifying chlorinated disinfection byproducts from nontargeted LC-HRMS analysis. Published in Analytical Chemistry earlier this year, this article showcases a groundbreaking advancement in exposomics research, offering a sophisticated solution for identifying and characterizing harmful chlorinated compounds.

HDPairFinder: A data processing platform for hydrogen/deuterium isotopic labeling-based nontargeted analysis of trace-level amino-containing chemicals in environmental water, Journal of Environmental Sciences, presents a data processing platform tailored for hydrogen/deuterium isotopic labeling-based nontargeted analysis. This tool facilitates the identification and analysis of trace-level amino-containing chemicals in environmental water samples, contributing significantly to exposomics and toxicology research.

Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements

Ryland Giebelhaus, a doctoral student from the Harynuk node at the University of Alberta, has been granted a CIHR Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements award to pursue studies at the University of Copenhagen this winter. The project’s objectives entail the development of novel workflows for processing GCxGC-MS data employing chemometrics and machine learning techniques. These advancements aim to facilitate the investigation and interpretation of extensive GCxGC-MS metabolomics studies encompassing over 1000 samples. By enhancing the capabilities of this sensitive technique, researchers will be able to utilize it more effectively in larger metabolomics and exposomics studies, thus broadening its adoption within the scientific community.

The Canada Graduate Scholarships – Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements (CGS-MSFSS) aim to support outstanding Canadian graduate students in broadening their research horizons and establishing international connections by undertaking research experiences at foreign institutions. Recipients of the CGS-MSFSS will contribute to enhancing collaboration between Canadian and international research entities by gaining access to global scientific research and training opportunities. Each year, a total of 250 awards are distributed among the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

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