Mapping metabolites to their key biochemical pathways

Study code

Lead researcher
Professor John Bradley

Study type
Samples and data

Institution or company
University of Cambridge

Researcher type

Speciality area
Genomics and Rare Diseases

Recruitment Site


Metabolomics is the study of small molecules and an integral technology for understanding the function of biological systems. It is the systematic measurement and biological interpretation of the low molecular weight (~50-1,500 Da) biochemicals or “metabolites” within a biological sample. Surveying these small molecules allows for better understanding of biological mechanisms, thereby creating a more complete picture of the phenotype (the observable characteristics of a living system).

This first-line phenotyping tool tracks alterations in metabolite levels and maps them to the appropriate biochemical pathways, improving our understanding of health and the influences of genes, microbiome, diet, lifestyle and drug treatment.

By providing a comprehensive picture of the biochemistry of a system, metabolomics helps answer many clinical and research questions and advance programs in translational science, biomarker identification and the study of disease and treatment mechanisms. This makes metabolomics a key technology for precision medicine, as well as for the NIHR BioResource, across multiple application areas.

Participation: The NIHR BioResource sent a total of 13,500 samples from 6 local BioResource centre's to be analysed on the Metabolon platform (by Metabolon Inc.).

Organisation: This study was organised by Professor John Bradley at the University of Cambridge. Analysis of the metabolon data was conducted by the National Coordinating Centre Data Scientist in Cambridge.