Metabolomics is the science and technology of the measurement, identification, and quantification of metabolites in living systems. Metabolites are sensitive to genetics and the environment, and they are closely related to behavioral phenotypes. In a systems biology analysis, metabolomics can provide important data that can improve the understanding and interpretation of other omics such as genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics.
There are many components of a metabolomics study, including study design, sample collection and preparation, analytical measurements, statistical analysis and data reduction, compound identification, data integration, and pathway mapping. As a result, the required skills in metabolomics studies include statistics, chemistry, biochemistry, computer science, genetics, and more. Clearly, most people don’t have all of these areas of expertise, so metabolomics is a team effort. One of the great challenges in any interdisciplinary science such as metabolomics is to develop a common language and appreciation for disciplines outside of a person’s specific training and education.
The Edison lab is highly collaborative and works with people with expertise in all of the areas necessary for systems biology. Students and postdocs in the Edison lab have different backgrounds, and one of the ongoing themes is to learn as much as possible about all aspects of metabolomics and systems biology.
The video linked with the title of this section is a fun overview of metabolomics. It was made while I was at the University of Florida and was PI of SECIM. It won a contest celebrating the 10th anniversary of the NIH Common Fund and was featured on the NIH Director’s blog.