My main research focus 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.
- Infant metabolismEarly life nutrition is associated with lifelong changes in disease risk. In collaboration with the group of Prof David Dunger we are studying infant metabolism to understand how early changes in infant metabolism can contribute to growth and subsequent disease risk. This work is supported by two BBSRC funded research projects, “The validation of infant nutritional biomarkers” and “The development of biomarkers of infant fat distribution”. For the last project, we closely collaborate with Dr Bjorn Nielsen at the Technical University of Denmark and Prof Anita Hokken-Koelenga (Erasmus University, Rotterdam). Furthermore, there are collaborations with different teams worldwide to study lipid metabolism of severely malnourished children.
- Technological developments in metabolomics and lipidomics We aim to establish 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 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.
Snowden SG, Korosi A, de Rooij SR, Koulman A. Combining lipidomics and machine learning to measure clinical lipids in dried blood spots. Metabolomics. 2020 Jul 24;16(8):83. doi: 10.1007/s11306-020-01703-0.
Jenkins B, Ronis M, Koulman A. LC-MS Lipidomics: Exploiting a Simple High-Throughput Method for the Comprehensive Extraction of Lipids in a Ruminant Fat Dose-Response Study. Metabolites. 2020 Jul 17;10(7):296. doi: 10.3390/metabo10070296.
Furse S, White SL, Meek CL, Jenkins B, Petry CJ, Vieira MC, Ozanne SE, Dunger DB, Poston L, Koulman A. Altered triglyceride and phospholipid metabolism predates the diagnosis of gestational diabetes in obese pregnancy. Mol Omics. 2019 Dec 2;15(6):420-430. doi: 10.1039/c9mo00117d.
Harshfield EL, Koulman A, Ziemek D, Marney L, Fauman EB, Paul DS, Stacey D, Rasheed A, Lee JJ, Shah N, Jabeen S, Imran A, Abbas S, Hina Z, Qamar N, Mallick NH, Yaqoob Z, Saghir T, Rizvi SNH, Memon A, Rasheed SZ, Memon FU, Qureshi IH, Ishaq M, Frossard P, Danesh J, Saleheen D, Butterworth AS, Wood AM, Griffin JL. An Unbiased Lipid Phenotyping Approach To Study the Genetic Determinants of Lipids and Their Association with Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors. J Proteome Res. 2019 Jun 7;18(6):2397-2410. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.8b00786.
All published work can be found on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?sort=date&term=Koulman+A&cauthor_id=33196026