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Published: 2024-02-15

The world metabolomics community gathers in the North

NEWS The conference Metabolomics in Life Science 30-31 January in Umeå provided great opportunities for 120 scientists from all over the world to network with fellow researchers and potential collaborators, as well as encounter industry professionals.

the success of the conference has paved the way for a recurring event in Umeå every two years

As remarked by Professor Henrik Antti during the opening, the conference underlined the long history of metabolomics research in Umeå.

“The development of the strong metabolomics research in Umeå stems from the unique expertise in the areas of chemometrics, mass spectrometry, NMR and plant science that came together in early 2000. Later followed by a close interaction with medical and clinical researchers at Umeå University coming in with new research questions and valuable sample collections and banks to form an Umeå network for metabolomics in life sciences”, says Professor Henrik Antti, Head of the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University.

Large-scale study of small molecules

Metabolomics is the large-scale study of small molecules, metabolites, within cells, biofluids, tissues or organisms. Collectively, these molecules and their interactions within a biological system are known as the metabolome. Metabolomics is a powerful approach because metabolites and their concentrations directly reflect the underlying biochemical activity and state of cells and tissues. The two predominant techniques in metabolomics are mass spectrometry (MS) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR).

The Metabolomics in Life Science conference in Umeå highlighted the latest advancements, breakthroughs, and applications in the field of NMR and MS based metabolomics research in Sweden and the world, ranging from precision medicine and plant metabolomics to the use of advanced computational and AI strategies within the field.

“One example of breakthrough is Daniel Globisch Chemoselective metabolomics, which is a new technique that can have a major impact for studying metabolism in the intestinal flora but also for other clinical applications,” says Henrik Antti.

Strong global networks

This conference marked a significant initiative, being the first of its kind in Umeå. It was a joint effort between two SciLifeLab units located in Umeå, the Swedish NMR Centre (SNC) and the Swedish Metabolomics Centre (SMC) together with the Computational Analytics Support Platform (CASP) aiding researchers in both the analysis and interpretation of metabolomics data. Together, these facilities provide comprehensive metabolomics services to researchers on both a national and international scale.

“We at CASP were delighted to be asked to be a part of the organization, forming a strong team that combines our complementary expertise in the area of metabolomics. The international participation in the conference highlights the widespread interest and spread of metabolomics expertise worldwide and the success of the conference has paved the way for a recurring event, set to be held in Umeå every two years,” says Kate Bennett, member in the organizing group and Platform Manager at the Computational Analytics Support Platform (CASP).

In addition to the scientific programme, the conference featured six industry exhibitions, where leading companies presented state-of-the-art technologies, products, and services related to metabolomics research.

New knowledge and mingle

Edvin Forsgren, PhD student at the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University, was one of the participants.

“What I liked the most was that there was such a breadth in the short talks and keynotes, for example technological advances in analysis methods, analysis of cancer patients and their metabolic markers, dietary interventions for rheumatoid arthritis patients, understanding the course of multiple sclerosis, and so on. It was also fun that there were a lot of international participants and presenters to mingle with”, says Edvin.

He works on developing data analysis methods and also presented at the conference a method that he has developed together with Pär Jonsson at the company Sartorius and staff scientist Benny Björkblom.

“For me, it was valuable to get a little more insight into how those who are the target group of our method are working and to learn about the need for smoother and better methods that simplify.”

Six distinguished keynote speakers gave lectures: Daniel Globisch, Associate Professor at Uppsala University, Guro Giskeødegård, Associate Professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Young Hae Choi, Associate Professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands,  Timothy Ebbels, Professor at Imperial College London, Marine Letertre, Associate Professor University of Nantes, and Helen Lindqvist, Associate Professor  at the University of Gothenburg.

Metabolomics in Life Science conference was sponsored by Umeå University, Department of Chemistry, SwedNMR, SciLifeLab and six industrial sponsors: Bruker, Leco, Lifespin, ThermoFisher Scientific, Waters and Agilent.


For more information, please contact:

Ilona Dudka
Staff scientist
Kate Bennett
Research coordinator