Norman Chiu

Title: Associate Professor
Field: Analytical Chemistry
Nucleic Acids Research
Disease Biomarkers
Room: 410 Sullivan Science Building
Phone: 336.334.3126
Research Website:


B.Sc. in Chemistry, University of Liverpool, U.K., 1990
M.Sc. in Analytical Chemistry, University of Bristol, U.K., 1992
Ph.D. in Biochemistry, University of Windsor, Canada, 1993-1998
Postdoctoral Fellow, Boston University, 1998-2001
Postdoctoral Fellow and Scientist, Sequenom Inc, 1998-2001

Research Interests

One of the limiting factors for studying any biological system is how well the system can be monitored. The focus of Dr. Chiu’s research group is to identify specific analytical challenges in measuring biomarkers, and develop new analytical methods to overcome the challenges. Specifically, we are interested in the analysis of variations in the human genome, transcriptome, gut microbiome and other specific biomarkers that are related to disease development or management.

To reduce the complexity of biological samples, specific molecular probes as well as the activity of some unique enzymes have often been used as part of our developed methods. For the end point measurements in our developed methods, the use of different analytical techniques have been explored, which include fluorescence spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, etc.

To improve our data analysis, we have also explored the use of different statistical methods.

The highlights of Dr. Chiu’s achievements include the development of :

  1. First expressible enzyme-coding DNA reporting label for immunoassays;
  2. Tandem mass spectroscopic measurements of DNA adducts using high CID energy;
  3. Generation of unique mass signatures for microRNA analysis;
  4. Commercialized assay for identifying bacterial cell cultures using MALDI-TOF MS;
  5. Universal screening tool of cytotoxicity studies/risk assessment.

The ongoing research projects in Dr. Chiu’s group include:

  • Characterization and cytotoxicity of Carbon Nanodots with Profs. Z. Jia  and J. Wei at UNCG
  • SNP biomarkers and stress monitoring of Type 2 Diabetes with Prof. J. Hu at Ohio State University
  • Mass spectrometry of RNA with Prof. B. Tannous at Harvard Medical School
  • Ion mobility mass spectrometry of large biomolecules
  • New approach for analyzing gut microbiome

The above projects have been supported by funding from NIH, NSF, UNCG, and NCBC.

Representative Publications

  • Christopoulos TK, Chiu NH. Expression Immunoassay. Antigen quantitation using antibodies labeled with enzyme-coding DNA fragment. Anal. Chem., 67; 4290 (1995).
  • Chiu NH*, Tang K, Yip P, Braun A, Koster H, Cantor CR. Mass spectrometry of single-stranded restriction fragments captured by an undigested complementary sequence. Nucleic Acids Res., 28; e31 (2000).
  • Shahgholi M, Garcia BA, Chiu NH, Heaney PJ, Tang K. Sugar additives for MALDI matrices improve signal allowing the smallest nucleotide change (A:T) in a DNA sequence to be resolved. Nucleic Acids Res., 29; e91 (2001).
  • Wintzingerode FV, Bocker S, Schlotelburg C, Chiu NH, Storm N, Jurinke C, Van den Boom D. Base-specific fragmentation of amplified 16S rRNA genes and mass spectrometry analysis: A novel tool for rapid bacterial identification. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci ., 99, 7039 (2002).
  • Qing L, Chiu NH and Vouros P. Investigation of benzonase/alkaline phosphatase digestion of DNA and DNA-adducts using LC-ESI MS. Anal. Chem., 79(5), 1907-17 (2007).
  • Barnes CA, and Chiu NH. Accurate characterization of carcinogenic DNA adducts using MALDI tandem time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Int. J. Mass Spectrom., 279, 170-175 (2009)
  • Yang W, Chiu NH. Correlation between UV spectrophotometry and quantitative MALDI-TOF MS.Spectroscopy Letters, 43(7), 602-608, (2010)
  • Xiaojiao Zheng, Guoxiang Xie, Aihua Zhao, Chun Yao, Weiping Jia, Norman H. L. Chiu, Zhanxiang Zhou, Wei Jia. The footprints of gut microbial – mammalian co-metabolism. Journal of Proteome Research 10(12), 5512-5522 (2011).
  • Chiu NH* and Wilson WB. Unexpected decrease of internal standard signals in quantitative MALDI-TOF MS. J. Anal. Sci. Method Instrum., 2(3), 120-125, (2012).
  • D.M. Wambua, B.A. Tannous, N.H. Chiu*. Creating unique mass signatures for identifying microRNAs. Anal. Methods, 4 (10), 3453 – 3459, (2012).
  • Wambua D, Ubukata M, Dane J, Cody RB, Chiu NH*. Bottom-up mass spectrometric sequencing of microRNA. Anal. Methods. 6, 8829-8839, (2014).
  • Chiu NH*, Jia Z, Wright P, Diaz R. Rapid differentiation of in vitro cellular responses to toxic chemicals by using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 34(1), 161-166 (2015).
  • Wright P, Hu Q, Choi M, Chiu NH, Jia Z*.  Carbon nanodots interference with lactate dehydrogenase assay in human monocyte THP-1 cells. SpringerPlus, 3, 615 (2015).
  • Watson A, Hu J, Chiu NH*. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in type 2 diabetes among Hispanic population. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice 108, e25-27, (2015).
  • Watson A, Chiu NH*. Fluorometric cell-based assay for β-galactosidase activity in probiotic gram-positive bacterial cells — Lactobacillus helveticus. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 128, 58-60, (2016).
  • Mwangi J, Chiu NH*. High percentage of human isomeric microRNA and their analytical challenges. Non-coding RNA (manuscript in preparation).