Our research group primarily focuses on using analytical tools to advance our knowledge in specific areas that are related to our health and living environments. Specifically, our current projects include the following:

Method Development

Since establishing our research group, the development of new or improved analytical methods has continued to be one of our focuses. For the end-point measurements in our developed methods, mass spectrometry has been commonly used. To address the challenge of analyzing isomeric compounds, the coupling of ion mobility spectrometry to mass spectrometry has been explored. Currently, we are interested in improving the accuracy for quantifying RNA modifications as well as shortening the time required for analyzing each RNA sample. The goal is to provide a set of methods for studying the roles of RNA modifications (or epitranscriptomes) in various cellular activities.

Disease Biomarkers

The benefits of being able to detect specific disease biomarkers include the prevention, diagnosis, and/or treatment of diseases. However, the analysis of specific disease biomarkers is often restricted by the limited amount of samples that can be collected from an individual patient. This is further complicated by the complex contents in the sample of interest and/or the low abundance of targeted biomarkers. To improve our ability in the qualitative and quantitative analysis of specific disease biomarkers, our group has explored the use of different approaches and analytical techniques. By collaborating with the Tannous group at the Massachusetts General Hospital, we have initiated an effort to identify new RNA biomarkers for brain cancer by using high resolution mass spectrometry. This project is currently funded by NIH.

Prevention of Suicidal Behaviour

Despite the strong support and help from our government and communities, the suicide rate among veterans remains higher (~52%) than that for non-veteran adults in the US. A recent publication from the United Service Organization reports the suicide rate among active service members has been increasing over the past five years. In our collaboration with Drs. Maloney and Goolkasian, we are currently exploring a new way to lower the rate of suicide among veterans and active service members.


By using whole cell mass spectrometry, we are interested in developing a high throughput screening method for the cytotoxicity of nanomaterials. Through a collaboration with the Jia group at UNCG, we have also participated in a study to explore the applications of carbon-based nanomaterials in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. This project is currently funded by NIH.