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Guest Talk: Dr. Horst Joachim Schirra

Dr. Horst Joachim Schirra, Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Imaging, University of Queensland, Australia, is visiting Aarhus University and is giving a CFIN guest talk

2014.08.29 | Henriette Blæsild Vuust

Date Fri 05 Sep
Time 11:00 12:00
Location CFIN Meeting Room, 4th floor, AUH, Building 10G, Nørrebrogade 44, Aarhus C.

Dr. Horst Joachim Schirra


Cracking the Metabolic Code - Using NMR-based Metabolomics to understand Metabolic Regulation in Systems Biology and Clinical Science


Metabolomics is a dynamic and emerging research field, similar to proteomics, transcriptomics and genomics in enabling the global understanding of biological systems and biological processes. The technique provides a direct functional snapshot of the physiological status of an organism and is in principle ideally suited to describe someone's health status.

Next to mass spectrometry, NMR spectroscopy is one of the major analytical techniques used in metabolomics. The high reproducibility, non-invasiveness, and inherent quantitativeness of NMR spectroscopy gives this method a number of advantages over other techniques.

This talk will focus on the applications of NMR-based metabolomics in systems biology and clinical research. We will (1) provide an introduction into NMR-based metabolomics and systems biology, (2) give an overview of the NMR-based metabolomics capabilities available at CAI, and (3) show several practical examples of the application of NMR-based metabolomics in systems biology, clinical, and environmental research. (4) Lastly, we will briefly outline the future directions for the role of NMR-based metabolomics, including personalised medicine, integration with other -omics datasets, and metabolic modelling, in order to create a systems biology approach to solve fundamental problems in biology and medicine.

Short Biography:

Dr Schirra is an NMR spectroscopist with more than 20 years of experience and one of the leaders of NMR-based metabolomics in Australia. He studied Chemistry at the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and received his PhD in Biochemistry from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich (Switzerland), where he elucidated the solution structure of one of the major proteins catalysing protein folding in E.coli. In 1999, he joined the University of Queensland, and was awarded a prestigious Queensland Smart State Fellowship in 2005. In 2009 Dr Schirra became an independent Lecturer in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at UQ, and in 2012 he joined UQ's Centre for Advanced Imaging, where he leads a multidisciplinary research program in metabolic regulation and systems biology.

The focus of Dr Schirra's scientific career from early scientific education to independent researcher has been to develop research skills and expertise in a number of areas at the interface between biology and chemistry, with the view that important biological problems require a multidisciplinary approach to reach a solution. His main field of research is Metabolic and Structural Systems Biology.

Dr Schirra uses the potential that NMR-based metabolomics offers as a platform technology for characterising the metabolome and investigating the impact of disease and environmental change. Specifically, Dr Schirra's current research focuses on elucidating the basic principles of metabolic regulation and the role it plays in fundamental biological processes, in the development of disease, and in the connection between genotype and phenotype. Part of this research theme is to push the boundaries of NMR-based metabolomics by integrating the technique with genomic and proteomic methods and by expanding the toolbox of computational methods to analyse metabolomic data.

Dr Schirra is Board Member of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Magnetic Resonance (ANZMAG) and editorial board member of the journals "International Scholarly Research Notices" and "Structural Biology".