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Underpinning many disciplines, this theme encompasses the study of metabolic processes in different systems and using a range of approaches.

Multi-coloured illustrative mineral pills © Maxx Studios, Shutterstock

Researchers are investigating how metabolic pathways are perturbed in cancer, heart disease, metabolic disorders, immunological processes and other conditions using the full range of experimental scales, from molecular through to cell systems and up to experimental medicine studies. They also study how metabolic pathways are altered in developmental pathways or under specific physiological or environmental conditions. Mitochondrial function is a further area of research interest at Oxford, with groups exploring the metabolic behaviour of mitochondria in a number of diseases including chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis and cancer.

Researchers are using metabolomics to understand disease pathogenesis for conditions such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in efforts directed at improving prevention, detection and treatment of these diseases. The Department of Chemistry offers a metabolomics platform and infrastructure for both targeted and untargeted metabolomics, including metabolic flux analysis, at its Mass Spectrometry Research Facility. It also hosts a service for NMR metabolomics at its NMR Facility. On the Old Road Campus, the Target Discovery Institute undertakes proteomics, metabolomics and lipidomics studies for target discovery in human disease. 

The gut microbiome is a major contributor to the human metabolome and is an expanding area of research interest. Oxford is a leading centre for research on the relationship between the intestinal microbiota and the host immune system and how this breaks down in many diseases. The Oxford Centre for Microbiome Studies at the Kennedy Institute provides a hub for microbiome science across Oxford and works with a diverse range of researchers to help them associate microbiome description with function. The Centre is developing capability to be able to identify the bacterial metabolites that have functional properties.