My main research involves developing cutting-edge analytical methods to measure specific metabolites and nutrients, and using these methods to facilitate the further understanding of our metabolism and of the role of metabolism in disease. The current technical challenge is to comprehensively analyse all metabolites and lipids (aka metabolomics and lipidomics), which demands developments in experimental design, sample preparation, analysis, data processing and bioinformatics. I have been responsible for the development and application of novel analytical pipelines. These methods enables us to measure metabolites (fatty acids, lipids, etc.) in very large population studies, some of which are still the largest in the world, as well as to measure lipids in single cells (single cell lipidomics). We are currently using these results to understand how genetics and diet are associated with disease risk through metabolism. This has resulted, for example, in new understanding of the metabolism of odd chain fatty acids and their relation to diabetes risk. I was the first to adapt lipid-profiling methodology to use dried blood spots to measure lipid metabolism in healthy infants, leading to the development of biomarkers for infant nutrition. My research is divided into three key areas.
- Metabolism in pregnancy and early life. Early life exposure is associated with lifelong changes in disease risk. In collaboration with the groups of Claire Meek and Sue Ozanne we study lipid metabolism during pregnancy and early life. This has led to development of biomarkers of gestational diabetes, infant nutrition and candidate markers of future childhood obesity. Furthermore, there are collaborations with different teams worldwide to study lipid metabolism of severely malnourished children.
- Technological developments in metabolomics and lipidomics Our lab forms a technology ‘hub’, working on technological advances in metabolomics and lipidomics measurement. Together with the team of Dr Emmanouil Metzakopian we have developed a complete pipeline to use lipidomics to study single cells (Single cell Lipidomics) and we use to study the role of lipids in Parkinson’s disease, funded by the Michael J Fox Foundation. Our methods and analyses contribute to biomedical innovation in diseases where metabolism is perturbed. My lab works collaboratively to identify and validate metabolic markers that can be used in diagnosis and prognosis of disease and treatment, providing the complete pipeline from experimental design, sample preparation, analysis, data processing and bioinformatics.
- Developing, validating, applying and disseminating methods for blood sample collection and nutritional biomarker analysis(supported by the MRC Epidemiology Unit) We will facilitate the application of nutritional biomarker analysis in (clinical) research, surveillance and experimental medicine, allowing objective measurement of dietary and nutritional status and identification of new nutritional biomarkers.
The combination of these research areas makes it possible to maintain the critical mass required to develop analytical methods and approaches with a high level of quality control and assurance. This provides the IMS with a centralised knowledge hub for analytical chemistry to drive forward our understanding of the role of metabolism in disease.
Snowden SG, Fernandes HJR, Kent J, Foskolou S, Tate P, Field SF, Metzakopian E, Koulman A. Development and Application of High-Throughput Single Cell Lipid Profiling: A Study of SNCA-A53T Human Dopamine Neurons. iScience. 2020 Oct 21;23(11):101703. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101703.
Koulman A, Rennie KL, Parkington D, Tyrrell CS, Catt M, Gkrania-Klotsas E, Wareham NJ. The development, validation and application of remote blood sample collection in telehealth programmes. J Telemed Telecare. 2022 May 10:1357633X221093434. doi: 10.1177/1357633X221093434.
van Beijsterveldt IALP, Myers PN, Snowden SG, Ong KK, Brix S, Hokken-Koelega ACS, Koulman A. Distinct infant feeding type-specific plasma metabolites at age 3 months associate with body composition at 2 years. Clin Nutr. 2022 Jun;41(6):1290-1296. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2022.04.015. Epub 2022 Apr 22. PMID: 35537379.
Furse S, Koulman A, Ozanne SE, Poston L, White SL, Meek CL. Altered Lipid Metabolism in Obese Women With Gestational Diabetes and Associations With Offspring Adiposity. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2022 Jun 16;107(7):e2825-e2832. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgac206.
Pantaleão LC, Inzani I, Furse S, Loche E, Hufnagel A, Ashmore T, Blackmore HL, Jenkins B, Carpenter AAM, Wilczynska A, Bushell M, Koulman A, Fernandez-Twinn DS, Ozanne SE. Maternal diet-induced obesity during pregnancy alters lipid supply to mouse E18.5 fetuses and changes the cardiac tissue lipidome in a sex-dependent manner. Elife. 2022 Jan 13;11:e69078. doi: 10.7554/eLife.69078.
Harshfield EL, Fauman EB, Stacey D, Paul DS, Ziemek D, Ong RMY, Danesh J, Butterworth AS, Rasheed A, Sattar T, Zameer-Ul-Asar, Saleem I, Hina Z, Ishtiaq U, Qamar N, Mallick NH, Yaqub Z, Saghir T, Rizvi SNH, Memon A, Ishaq M, Rasheed SZ, Memon FU, Jalal A, Abbas S, Frossard P, Saleheen D, Wood AM, Griffin JL, Koulman A. Genome-wide analysis of blood lipid metabolites in over 5000 South Asians reveals biological insights at cardiometabolic disease loci. BMC Med. 2021 Sep 10;19(1):232. doi: 10.1186/s12916-021-02087-1. PMID: 34503513; PMCID: PMC8431908.
Olga L, van Diepen JA, Bobeldijk-Pastorova I, Gross G, Prentice PM, Snowden SG, Furse S, Kooistra T, Hughes IA, Schoemaker MH, van Tol EAF, van Duyvenvoorde W, Wielinga PY, Ong KK, Dunger DB, Kleemann R, Koulman A. Lipid ratios representing SCD1, FADS1, and FADS2 activities as candidate biomarkers of early growth and adiposity. EBioMedicine. 2021 Jan;63:103198.
All published work can be found on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?sort=date&term=Koulman+A&cauthor_id=33196026