Gunma University Initiative for Advanced Research > Laboratory > International Open Laboratory > Karolinska Institute

Karolinska Institute

Integrative molecular phenotyping

The vision of our research is to provide a molecular definition of health and the associated deviations due to disease or environmental stress. Accordingly, research efforts in our group center upon developing the necessary methods to quantify a healthy phenotype.

Research Fields

Integrative molecular phenotyping


Metabolomics, exposome, individual variation

What is health?

Despite our best efforts, biomedical science has failed to provide a concrete definition. It is clear that health is more than simply “free from disease”. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. However, traditional biomedicine focuses on identifying pathways and mechanisms associated with disease symptoms, not on understanding the processes that keep us healthy. It is not possible to understand deviations from health, whether disease-, environment-, or therapeutic-induced, without first establishing a baseline and definition of health. To address this question, we focus on small molecule metabolites, which are sensitive measures of an individual’s personal health profile – or phenotype. The field of metabolomics aims to measure the full complement of metabolites in a single sample, which provides a real-time indicator of biological status. The power of metabolomics is that it reflects the integrated result of genetic and environmental interactions, as well as treatment responses, making it ideally suited for characterizing health. Towards that end, our research focuses on the new field of metabolomic epidemiology, which involves the systematic use of epidemiological methods and principles to study population-based variation in the human metabolome as it associates with health-related outcomes or exposures. The application of large-scale metabolomic epidemiology will provide insight into biochemical processes that can guide efforts in precision medicine, which will lead us towards the goal of addressing the fundamental question of how to maintain health.



Naz, S., H. Gallart-Ayala, S. N. Reinke, C. Mathon, R. Blankley, R. Chaleckis and C. E. Wheelock
Development of a liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry metabolomics method with high specificity for metabolite identification using all ion fragmentation acquisition.
Analytical Chemistry 2017 89 (15), 7933-7942
DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b00925