PhD – Lipidome and metabolome changes due to pharmacological stress

Characterising changes in the lipidome and metabolome of mammalian cells as a consequence of pharmacological induced stress

Advisory team: Dr Joanna Denbigh (80%), Professor Peter Gardner (10%)*, Dr Nick Lockyer (10%)*

Deadline: 31 March 2017

Characterising changes in the lipidome and metabolome of mammalian cells as a consequence of pharmacological induced stress affords new insight into biochemical processes associated with disease progression and the treatment thereof. Many diseases are linked with abnormal lipid metabolism. The chemical profiling of diseased and stressed biological systems through lipidomics and metabolomics is a powerful approach to understanding and ultimately controlling biological function.
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Visitor from University of Karachi

This month we welcome Dr. Syed Ghulam Musharraf, Associate Professor from H.E.J. Research Institute of Chemistry and International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at the University of Karachi, Pakistan (  Musharraf will discuss collaborative opportunities between his institution and the University of Manchester and share his own research interests with our group and others in the MIB.  His visit is funded through a Charles Wallace Visiting Fellowship.

PhD Studentship

New insights into disease pathogenesis and therapy through high resolution mass spectrometry imaging

Dr Nick Lockyer, Dr Katie Moore, Prof Kaye Williams

3.5 year MRC DTP PhD Studentship (UK/EU)

Application Deadline: 18 November 2016

Various imaging modalities provide essential tools in modern biological and medical research. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) for example employs fluorophore- or enzyme-tagged antibodies to report the distribution of disease-associated proteins in pathological tissues. In this project we will explore the application of mass spectrometry imaging technology to provide a more quantitative and comprehensive distribution of diagnostic ions related to cancer biomarkers and drug therapy. This is important because of the heterogeneity of solid tumours containing a variety of cells involved in biological cross-talk and responding differently to drug intervention.

The approach will be based on the highly sensitive detection of established and novel anticancer metallo-drugs e.g. cisplatin and metal/nanoparticle-tagged antibodies binding to specific protein biomarkers. Samples will range from in-vitro cellular targets, to multi-cellular 3D tumour models and tissue microarrays. We will assess the performance characteristics of the latest secondary ion mass spectrometry imaging platforms in a series of calibration studies and perform benchmarking against the current state-of-the-art IHC approaches. This technology has the potential to precisely localise, on a sub-cellular scale, multiple biomarkers and metallo-drugs in a single-step measurement. The overall aim of the project is to develop and validate methodology demonstrating the power of secondary ion mass spectrometry imaging as a novel tool for diagnosis, intervention and the development of novel therapeutics for cancer and other diseases.

This is a highly interdisciplinary project providing excellent training opportunities in the application of advanced analytical technologies at the life sciences/medical interface. In addition the student will acquire niche research and core bioscience skills.

For more details contact Dr N Lockyer (

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the MRC Doctoral Training Partnership. Full details on how to apply can be found on our website
Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.


  • Angelo, M. et al. Multiplexed ion beam imaging of human breast tumours. Nature Medicine 20, 436 (2014).
  • Wedlock L.E. et al. NanoSIMS multi-element imaging reveals internalisation and nucleolar targeting for a highly-charged polynuclear platinum compound. Chem. Commun. 49, 6944 (2013).
  • Steinhauser, M.L. et al. Multi-isotope imaging mass spectrometry quantifies stem cell division and metabolism. Nature 481, 516 (2012).

Dr Joanna Denbigh

Congratulations to Jo on successfully completing her PhD ‘Lipidomic and Metabolomic Analysis of Biological Response Mechanisms in Cancer Cells: A Multidisciplinary Approach’.

Jo starts a post-doc in the area of mass spectrometry imaging in collaboration with Adam McMahon’s group at the Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre.


Paper – Water cluster beam imaging of brain tissue

Open AccessOpen Access

Mass spectrometric imaging of brain tissue by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry – How do polyatomic primary beams C60+, Ar2000+, water-doped Ar2000+ and (H2O)6000+ compare?

Irma Berrueta Razo, Sadia Sheraz (née Rabbani), Alex Henderson, Nicholas P. Lockyer and John C. Vickerman
Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 29 (2015) 1851–1862

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Visit to Hyogo University

Nick visited the groups of Drs Moritani and Toyoda at the University of Hyogo, Himeji, Japan, who work extensively with gas cluster ion beams (GCIBs) for materials processing and analysis.  He gave a presentation on our ion yield enhancements with the water GCIB source.

Visit to Osaka University

Nick visited the groups of Prof Terada and colleagues at Osaka University, who are developing high resolution ToF mass analyzers and applying them in SIMS, SNMS, MALDI and FAB.  He gave a presentation on our instrumentation and methodology development and discussed laser SNMS theory – he also had the opportunity to view some moon samples returned by the Apollo 15 and 17 missions.