Analytical Biochemistry (including Metabolomics facility)

The Analytical Biochemistry Shared Resource was established to support and facilitate collaborative cancer research between the various disciplines at the UH Cancer Center by providing chemical analyses which contribute to understanding cancer and other chronic diseases in populations in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere. It assists in the determination of the molecular structure of biologically relevant molecules as well as their quantification in a targeted format and also untargeted or metabolomics format. In addition, it performs routine clinical chemistry analyses and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The facility is equipped with essential instruments needed to perform highly-sensitive analytical chemistry, applying modern, state-of-the-art technologies for difficult-to-measure and ultra-low concentrated compounds including foremost mass spectrometry. This resource is directed since its inception in 1993 by Dr. Franke and received an outstanding score during each of the previous 5 Cancer Center Support Grant reviews. Adrian A. Franke, PhD is trained as a pharmacist and analytical chemist and has over 33 years of experience leading projects for clinical, metabolic, experimental, epidemiologic, and other types of analytical chemistry-based studies. His research success and collaborative efforts are evidenced by his extensive publication record, 279 peer reviewed authored or co-authored publications to date, in addition to his success in obtaining subcontracts and research grants. Xingnan Li, PhD is trained in medicinal and analytical chemistry and has worked in the ABSR since 2007. She performs all hands-on analytical chemistry bench work for targeted analyses including the performance of MS based assays. She specializes in assays requiring chemical derivatization to increase MS sensitivity, particularly for the analysis of ultra-low concentrated metabolites and small molecules. She also publishes peer-reviewed papers with Dr. Franke regularly. Jennifer Lai, MS has been with the ABSR since 2007 as a Research Associate and Study Coordinator. She has a nutrition background with previous experience in cell and tissue culture, and molecular biology, and is intimately familiar with all study components ranging from wet chemistry work to laboratory logistics. She is in charge ordering supplies, compiling and analyzing data, overseeing and completing IRB related matters, and preparing presentations, grant applications, and manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed journals. She also publishes peer-reviewed papers with Dr. Franke regularly. Huizhen Zhang, MS started with the former Metabolomics Shared Resource since 2018 and has taken over the role of Senior Technician and Metabolomics Lab Manager in May 2021. She has 7 years of research experience in targeted and untargeted metabolomics analyses. She is in charge of UPLC/ triple quadrupole MS metabolomics-related operations, and assists with metabolomics data and statistical analyses. Keegan Noda, BS started with the MeSR since 2020. He has previous work experience in the healthcare field and currently operates and maintains the UPLC-TQMS machinery supervised by Ms. Zhang and assists with the metabolomics data analyses and laboratory logistics.

The laboratory is routinely conducting analyses from human, animal or cell sources of a very wide array of biologicals including, lipid soluble plasma antioxidants, serum carotenoids and vitamins, hormones particularly sex hormones, oxytocin and others, but also environmental pollutants such as bisphenol-A, phthalates, parabens or triclosan to name a few (see detailed list of analytes) . The metabolomics based assays include an array of over 300 lipids, bile acids, or small molecules (“Q300 assay”). This is done in support of research projects funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies but also the basis for training of students. The resource constantly updates its assays to utilize the latest state-of-the-art technology. For example, blood Vitamin C is now measured by liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection which is faster and more accurate relative to the traditional colorimetric method. HPLC-based assays are transitioning to smaller column diameters, faster flow rates and the use of ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography to provide better sensitivity, faster analysis time and less waste generation. This core provides routine clinical chemistry services using robotic autoanalyzers (Cobas Mira Plus, Roche) and conducts routine assays based on liquid chromatography with diode-array detection and electrochemical detection, in addition to mass spectrometry (LC/MS) using a tandem MS system (Thermo TSQ Ultra) or of two high-resolution accurate-mass orbitrap systems (Thermo Q-Exactive). For metabolomics-based analyses we have available two LC/MS (one triple quadrupole and one time-of flight MS) and one GC/MS system with triple quadrupole MS (see details in our Instrumentation page). These high-end instruments offer improved sensitivity, selectivity and accuracy for many analytes. The array of ionization options include electrospray ionization (ESI), atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI), atmospheric pressure photo ionization (APPI) and most recently open air ionization using direct analysis in real time (DART). This resource also provides routine services for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) including multiplexed operations using Luminex technology.  More recently measurements of pigments in the eye are offered using a Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD) reader (model Macular Metrix II instrument acquired in 2016 from Macular Metrics, Rehoboth, Massachusetts).  A specialty of ABSR services is to multiplex assays to reduce turn-around time and cost.

For a complete list of established services, visit our Analytical Biochemistry (includes Metabolomics facility) Services Offered page and our cost schedule page which are regularly updated.

For more information and requests about analytical chemistry services not listed please contact Dr. Franke directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..