This is a new application requesting funds to support the acquisition of a Thermo TSQ Quantum Access mass spectrometer to enhance the function of the Lipid Analytic Core Lab at MUSC. This core lab has been in operation for 7 years, and has continually developed novel methodology and progressively advanced the application of LC/MS for the determination of lipids and standardized quantitation. It has been critical to the successful funding of two NIH program project grants (on sphingolipids in cancer at MUSC and apoptosis in liver cells at a collaborating institution), an NIH/NCRR Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (initial and competing renewal grants), and multiple individual investigator research projects as an outstanding core facility of the NCI-designated Hollings Cancer Center at MUSC. In 2008, the Analytic Core Lab logged >14,500 lipid assays for 31 MUSC users, 41 users outside MUSC, and 11 international users. The core lab currently relies on three operational mass spectrometry set ups - all are being used to capacity. Therefore, a core group of 18 major users, representing 8 departments at MUSC, are requesting this grant to acquire a Thermo TSQ Quantum Access mass spectrometer. This request is supported by letters from a representative sample of 6 outside users at biomedical research institutions across the nation. Technical expertise within the Analytic Core Lab includes a fulltime faculty member with extensive qualitative and quantitative lipid chemistry experience and 3 staff members. A comprehensive Administrative Plan ensures appropriate management, oversight, equitable access, and compliance. Strong institutional commitment ensures long term operation and maintenance of the requested instrument and overall facility.
The requested instrument will be used to analyze and quantify specific lipids that are important biological mediators regulating a broad range of cellular processes. Lipids function as both energy stores and signaling molecules. In addition, they form an impermeable bilayer separating the intra- and extracellular components of cells. Major lipid classes include triacylglycerols, phospholipids, glycolipids, sphingolipids, sterols, waxes and fatty acids. Because alteration of lipid function is strongly implicated in the etiology and pathogenesis of many diseases that have a very high burden of personal and social cost, e.g., atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory disorders, infectious diseases, neurodegeneration, obesity and stroke, research in this area is vital for identifying potential therapeutic targets.