Dr Dunn's research group is focused on the development of bioanalytical and computational methods and open-access tools for application in the targeted and untargeted study of metabolism across the human lifecourse. Areas of methodological and tool development include:
- methods to profile large areas of metabolic networks applying untargeted bioanalytical and mass spectrometry approaches to both small studies (n<100 samples) and large studies (n>500 samples);
- quality assurance procedures for large-scale untargeted metabolomics studies for which Dr Dunn led many of the early developments from 2007 onwards and
- new methods and software tools for metabolite annotation and identification in untargeted metabolic studies. Current and future developments have driven forward the group's capabilities to apply untargeted metabolomics studies for dissecting the influence of metabolites on human ageing and diseases in a systems level approach where phenotype and metabolism are integrated.
This approach has been applied in three large-scale studies (600-3500 subject samples) and has resulted in the development of the Phenome Centre Birmingham, a £8M centre for large-scale metabolic phenotyping applying targeted and untargeted metabolomic approaches of which I am Director of Mass Spectrometry.
The large impacts on society and the economy will result from the study of the role of metabolites in the human lifecourse from in-utero to old age as is planned in the Phenome Centre Birmingham. Dr Dunn is currently, and will continue to, strengthen links with the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences to study global and muscle-specific metabolism in relation to healthy ageing and inflammatory diseases; this will be driven through his role as theme lead for systems biology and metabolomics in the MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research.
Dr Dunn also studies metabolism in relation to endocrine diseases (e.g. diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, insulin sensitivity and resistance), inflammatory and immunological diseases (e.g. arthritis), cancer (e.g. blood cancers), trauma (e.g. burn trauma) and complications of pregnancy. He also plans to collaborate with other system biologists to enhance the integration of data from different functional levels (e.g. how does metabolism influence epigenetic imprinting). The multi-disciplinary teams required for successful research programs is an important belief of Dr Dunn's and he will work towards the further integration of research excellence.
Phenome Centre Birmingham:
Birmingham Metabolomics Training Centre