Research in the Yost group centers around three aspects of analytical mass spectrometry: instrumentation, fundamentals, and applications. Instrumentation development includes a wide range of projects in tandem mass spectrometry (MSn) and chromatography. We are utilizing a laser microprobe MSn system to image trace levels of drugs and biomolecules in varying tissue samples. Additionally, we are utilizing high-field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) coupled to a mass spectrometer for the analysis of various compound classes. In addition Rick Yost heads Core 3 of the South East Center for Metabolomics (SECIM). Core 3, the Advanced Mass Spectrometry core, is involved biomarker identification using high resolution MS and ion mobility MS.
Fundamental studies aimed to enhance the analytical capabilities of mass spectrometry focus on experimentation and computer modeling. Ion trajectory simulations in ion traps point towards strategies for dramatically improving sensitivity. We are also studying MSn techniques that encompass both analytes and their internal standards in one analytical scan in order to improve quantitation capabilities in MALDI MS.
Applications of MS techniques developed in our group include studies in clinical, pharmacological, biotechnological, environmental, petrochemical, and forensic analysis. Current projects include sequencing peptides and oligosaccharides, profiling acylcarnitines in metabolic disorders, discovering biomarkers in diseased-state tissues, characterizing oxidized lipids, identifying human attractants for mosquitoes, characterizing chemical changes in wood tissue during pretreatment procedures, and developing a novel detection system for explosives. These applications involve direct collaboration with colleagues in other departments on campus and around the world.