Life is dynamic, complex, and interconnected. At the foundation of those features are biomolecules—proteins, lipids, and metabolites that control the key steps in growing and maintaining life.
Omics underpins much of PNNL’s biomedical and environmental scientific discovery and informs lab research into energy resilience and national security. Our integrative omics researchers unite analytical and computational technologies to dissect the molecular complexity of plants and people by employing mass spectrometry, bioinformatics, and computational biology.
Omics-related projects at PNNL range from studying environmental microbiomes in soil and plant systems to characterizing biomolecules involved with cancer, diabetes, and chronic and infectious disease. All of this work benefits from collaborations with the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy user facility located on the PNNL campus.
Our environmental research uses omics to study bioenergy, carbon cycling, environmental remediation, and microbial community dynamics. PNNL researchers also investigate molecular details of pathways involved with aspects of biofuel production, including microbial photosynthesis and degradation of lignocellulose.
Our health and disease researchers use omics to study cancer, diabetes, and infectious diseases in samples ranging from tissue and blood to single cells. We are studying molecular mechanisms of aging, lung development, and viral pathogenesis. Our researchers trace molecular signatures of exercise, how the gut microbiome influence human health, and the health effects of chemical exposures related to diet, industry, and warfighting.
Dissecting molecular complexities requires developing new technologies for analysis and measurement. Our researchers develop new protein-directed activity-based probes to uncover the precise function of proteins measured on a large scale. New metabolomics libraries classify the wide variety of small molecules in living systems, and bioinformatics technologies integrate data from various sources.
Finally, the PNNL omics separations and mass spectrometry group develops advanced chromatographic and other separations methods coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry. With their advances, our researchers can identify individual molecules or proteins in a mixture of thousands.