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News & Events

Dr. Erick Helmeczi

And just like that, another student successfully defended their PhD thesis. Congratulations to Dr. Erick Helmeczi who defended yesterday. Erick's work focused on developing new screening tools for Vitamin D deficiency, particularly for children in the ICU. Recent work has shown worse health outcomes for deficient children, setting the stage for Erick's work.

He also developed new software tools to help streamline our data workflow. Specifically he developed PeakMeister, a new data processing tool to help automate data pre-processing when performing multisegment injection-capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry (MSI-CE-MS). Historically data pre-processing has been the most time-consuming and cumbersome step of our workflow, but not anymore thanks to Erick's contributions. 

Travel Award

We would like to congratulate Patricia, one of our masters students who received a travel award for oral presentation that took place in the Biomedical Mass Spectrometry symposium at CSC (Canadian Chemistry Conference) in Winnipeg last week! Her talk focused on lipidomic studies on dried blood spot extracts for early detection of cystic fibrosis in newborns.

Vanier Award Winner: Zach Kroezen

We are thrilled to finally announce that one of this years prestigious Vanier recipients is our lab assistant Zach. We are beyond excited for him as he begins his PhD in our research group. Zach started in the Britz-McKibbin group in 2017, completing his undergraduate thesis requirement before starting his current role as research assistant in 2019. This award includes the highest recognitions of his accomplishments and leadership abilities. Many congratulations as you begin working towards finding biochemical insights into early exposures associated with childhood obesity!

Celebrating excellence in Canadian research: Announcing recipients of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships

Current Research in Engineering, Health Sciences and Technology (CREST) Conference

Ana attended the CREST (Current Research in Engineering, Health Sciences and Technology) conference this past Saturday, here at McMaster. She had a great time and was able to share a poster where she presented her ongoing research in biomarker discovery of burn injuries. Many thanks to the WISE (Women In Science and Engineering) initiative for hosting this conference. 

Canadian Metabolomics Conference 2024

We had a great time last week at the 5th annual Canadian Metabolomics Conference hosted at the University of British Columbia. It was great to catch up with our fellow Canadian metabolomic researchers. An added bonus was the BC mountain range as our backdrop for this conference.

A major congratulations to Zach, our research assistant, who won 2nd place for his oral presentation titled "A method for comprehensive drug surveillance of clinically depressed patients by multisegment injection-capillary eletrophoresis-mass spectrometry"!

Undergrad Thesis Presentations

Many congratulations to all the Chemistry and Chemical Biology undergraduate students who defended their thesis yesterday. A special shout-out to Haley and Victoria, two students who completed their work in our research group. We hope you both gained experience and analytical knowledge that will set you up for success in the future. 

We would be remiss not to also mention Esther and Yasmin who also completed research projects in our research group this academic year. The pleasure was ours getting to walk alongside all four of you as you undertook your respective independent research project. 

Nature Paper

A massive congratulations to Tommy, who we had the opportunity to host on a research stay in 2022 on his recent Nature publication. We know how hard you have been working towards this publication. In his work Tommy conducted a multi-omics study comprising three generations of family members to investigate the early development of the gut microbiota. We are honoured to be featured in this work! Want to check it out? See the link below.

Comparative characterization of the infant gut microbiome and their maternal lineage by a multi-omics approach

We are growing!

The Britz group would like to extend a warm welcome to 2 new lab members joining our research group. José Bozelli joins us from the Biochemistry department here at McMaster. His extensive experience in lipid research is going to be a great addition to our group as we extend our capabilities beyond only metabolomics. João Victor Pimenta is joining us from Brazil. He is a visiting graduate students who will be staying with us for the next 7 months! His work involves the characterization of coffee beans, where he is trying to map their origin based on their distinct differences. Welcome to the Britz Group!

Happy Holidays!

From our lab group to yours, we wish you a happy holidays and all the best in 2024! 

LACE 2023 and visiting our Mexican collegues

Dr. Britz had a great experience attending the LACE 2023 conference in Mexico earlier this month. It was a great excuse to also meet up with some of our Mexican collaborators to discuss our ongoing research projects and discuss future research opportunities. A special thanks to Dr. Miguel Cruz and his research group for being such kind and gracious hosts.

Department Christmas Party

Some of us made it out to the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Christmas Party last week. A fun time was had by all! Looking forward to this holiday season and celebrating everyone's accomplishments from the past year. 

Expanding Lipidomic Coverage

Check out Ritchie's newest publication in Analytical Chemistry from his PhD work. Here he explores a novel derivatization protocol for lipids based on 3-methyl-1-p-tolyltriazene (MTT) as a safer alternative to diazomethane for quantitative phospholipid (PL) methylation. This charge-switch derivatization strategy expanded his lipidome coverage when using MSI-NACE-MS under positive ion mode with improved resolution, greater sensitivity, and higher throughput.

Expanding Lipidomic Coverage in Multisegment Injection–Nonaqueous Capillary Electrophoresis–Mass Spectrometry via a Convenient and Quantitative Methylation Strategy

Publication in collaboration with David Mutch

What a month for publications it has been for our research group. As they say, when it rains, it pours! A big congratulations to Brittany from David Mutch's research group at the University of Guelph on her most recent publication. It's great to be able to collaborate alongside local researchers! We would be remiss to not also congratulate members of our research group for their contributions to this work. Congrats to Meera and Zach, as well as our former undergraduate co-op students Na-Yung and Vanessa for their critical work in this research. Check out the work where we discovered urinary metabolites that could be used to non-invasively monitor omega-3 index in urine to assess individuals undergoing, EPA or DHA supplementation for 12 weeks.

Urinary Metabolite Profiling to Non-Invasively Monitor the Omega-3 Index: An Exploratory Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial in Young Adults

New biomarkers of O3I

Congratulations to our former PhD student Ritchie Ly who recently published some of his thesis work where he discovered blood lipid biomarkers to more readily assess changes in the omega-3 index following high-dose fish oil, DHA or EPA only supplementation. This work was published in the Journal of Lipid Research. We also were recently featured in a McMaster University media release because of this work and it's significant impact on human nutrition and health. 

Lipidomic Studies Reveal Specific Circulating Phosphatidylcholines as Surrogate Biomarkers of Omega-3 Index

Omega watch: Researchers develop new test to measure omega-3 fatty acids in blood

Celebrating Masahide's work

It was great to be able to take Masahide, a Japanese summer student completing some research in our group this summer to a local microbrewery to celebrate all of his work before he leaves on Sunday. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication this summer and best of luck back in Japan. Masahide worked on developing and optimizing CE-iUV methods for the detections of cations and anions in human saliva!

Postdoctoral Research Scientist Position in Exposomics

We are hiring!  A funded postdoctoral scientist research position is available in metabolomics to objectively assess dietary and smoke exposures relevant to population health at McMaster University.

The Britz-McKibbin laboratory at McMaster University (https://britz.mcmaster.ca/) is a member of The Metabolomics Innovation Centre (TMIC) and is focused on applying high throughput methodologies for biomarker discovery using multiplexed capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry technology.
This position involves an exciting multidisciplinary project related to the assessment of dietary, tobacco smoke and other exposures on clinical events in a prospective cohort of participants from 14 countries with colleagues at the PHRI Population Health Research Institute in Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Qualifications and How to Apply:

Seeking a qualified candidate with a PhD in chemistry/biochemistry (or related field to metabolomics or exposomics) with laboratory experience in method development/validation using liquid chromatography or capillary electrophoresis with high-resolution mass spectrometry together with computational skills in data pre-processing and statistical analysis using R, and unknown metabolite or lipid identification by MS/MS.

Candidates with excellent organizational and communication skills are sought after with a passion for scientific integrity, data transparency, QC/QA, and trainee mentorship.
Start date for this position is November 2023 (up to 2 years, renewable after first year) - later start dates may also be considered.

Please forward a cover letter and a curriculum vitae ASAP by email to Dr. Britz-McKibbin (britz@mcmaster.ca) that also includes contact information for at least 3 references.

Jacqueline's MetaboNews interview

Our summer co-op student was recently featured in MetaboNews after being awarded 1st place for her oral presentation at the CanMetCon2023 conference held at Niagara on the Lake. Not only was her presentation one for the books we love seeing our student's work highlighted and recognized. Jacqueline is a talent for sure and we consider ourselves lucky to have her as a co-op student until December. 

If you want to check out her interview with MetaboNews you can access it here (Volume 13, Issue 6): MetaboNews

WAE McBryde Medal

Back at the beginning of the month, Dr. Britz was honoured by receive the WAE McBryde medal award in analytical chemistry at the Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Vancouver (CSC 2023) Thank-you to the Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition for this award and to Dr. Christina Bottaro from Memorial University who serves as Director of Awards at the CSC. 

Metabolomics 2023

What a great week hosting the Metabolomics 2023 conference in the beautiful Niagara Falls last week. It was great catching up with former students and watching all the wonderful presentation. Some extra congratulations to Stellena and Sandi, former PhD students in our group who received travel awards for the conference as well as Alicia (former PhD student), Sandi and Zach on a wonderful presentations. Looking forward to Metabolomics 2024 being hosted in Japan!

Chemistry International Excellence Scholarship

A big congratulations to Patricia, in our lab group, on being awarded the Chemistry International Excellence Scholarship. We couldn't think of a better candidate who works more diligently.

TA Award: Patricia Pissolatti

We are proud to announce that another one of our graduate students, Patricia Pissolatti was just awarded a TA award for all her hard work with the third year analytical chemistry course (CHEM 3AA3). Great work Patricia and thanks for all your help!!

OGS Scholarship: Erick Helmeczi

A very big congratulations to Erick Helmeczi, a Chemical Biology PhD candidate within our lab group on his recent OGS scholarship. We couldn't think of a more deserving candidate.

Congrats Prem and Natasia!

Congratulations to two of our undergrad thesis students, Prem and Natasia who won first and second place respectively for this thesis talks last week within the analytical chemistry stream. A group of professors score each presentation and they received the top two scores. 

Prem's research focused on studying the urinary metabolome of irritable bowel disease (IBD) patients, with the objective to try and confirm/discover urinary metabolites that differentiate the IBD subtypes (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis). 

Natasia studied the fecal metabolome of mice who were B9 and B12 deficient to try and better understand the role B vitamins play with respect to the gut microbiota.

Great work once again!

Undergrad Thesis Presentations

We got to celebrate our undergrad students today as they presented their thesis talks. A big congratulations to Jacqueline, Prem, Claire, and Natasia on your successful research projects. It has been such a privilege to walk alongside each of you this past year during your research projects. We cannot wait to see what you all accomplish and we wish you all the best of luck on what's next. If you are interested in completing a thesis project in our research group, reach out!

Analytical Science Magazine

Did you know we were recently featured in Analytical Science Magazine on our CE-MS metabolomics research program. Take a look at the interview for yourself if you are interested in some of our more recent research projects and developments. 

Q&A with Philip Britz-McKibbin

SOUSCC51

Two of our undergraduate students, Claire and Jacqueline, were at Trent University this past weekend presenting their undergraduate thesis research at the annual Southern Ontario Undergraduate Student Chemistry Conference. Great work ladies on your thesis work this past year. We are looking forward to your thesis presentations, along with the rest of our undergraduate students in April. 

Urinary Thiocyanate as a Robust Biomarker of Active Tobacco Smoking

Check out the groups most recent publication featuring Stellena's (currently a post-doc at the University of Toronto) work validating urinary thiocyanate as a biomarker of active tobacco smoking from participants in the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study. They examined the associations between urinary thiocyanate and self-reported never and current smokers among 1000 participants from 14 countries using capillary electrophoresis and analyzed urinary thiocyanate in light and heavy smokers as compared to never-smokers from high-, middle-, and low-income countries. The work was also featured in a McMaster press release, how exciting!

Validation of Urinary Thiocyanate as a Robust Biomarker of Active Tobacco Smoking in the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological Study

McMaster researchers find tobacco users in Canada are exposed to higher levels of cyanide than other regions

W.A.E. McBryde Medal

The W. A. E. McBryde Medal is presented to a young scientist working in Canada who has made a significant achievement in pure or applied analytical chemistry. We are so pleased to announce that Philip Britz-McKibbin is the 2023 recipient. We are looking forward to CSC to accept this prestigious honor. 

https://www.cheminst.ca/awards/csc/mcbryde-medal/

Dynamic metabolic signatures of choline and carnitine across healthy pregnancy and in cord blood: Association with maternal dietary protein

Congrats to Meera and Zach on their most recent publication exploring the importance of choline and carnitine during fetal development. They discovered that despite inadequate choline intake, serum free choline was elevated in late pregnancy and enriched in cord blood compared to maternal serum. Serum carnitine declined in late pregnancy despite a high protein diet. The higher cord:maternal concentrations in choline and carnitine metabolites suggests active uptake in late pregnancy.

Join us at Metabolomics 2023

We are very excited to host Metabolomics 2023 in picturesque Niagara Falls! Abstract submissions are now open, we hope to see you there!

The conference will cover the major scientific themes of: Technology Advances; Computational Metabolomics, Statistics, and Bioinformatics; Metabolomics in Health and Disease; and Metabolomics of Plants, Food, Environment and Microbes. A special theme for this conference will focus on Mental Health, Drug Addiction and Medicinal Cannabis.