Markers of Health
Researcher focuses on small molecules to show the big picture
Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in NMR Spectroscopy
Franklin College of Art & Sciences
Complex Carbohydrate Research Center
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Art Edison’s lab quickly switched gears.
As a member of the University of Georgia’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, Edison’s expertise lies in metabolomics, the study of essentially all the small molecules that make up an organism, tissues, or cells. Changes in the levels of these chemicals can be markers of disease. Edison and his lab hope these markers can help identify how COVID-19 is making people sick and what can be done to stop it.
“Metabolites are the things that are responding to what’s going on in a person’s life,” Edison said. “Whether it’s a specific disease or trying to find what makes a plant grow better, if you can measure the metabolites, you can know what’s really going on.”
Edison’s lab is comparing blood samples from healthy ferrets to sick ones and quickly sharing their findings with other researchers to help them create and test diagnostic tests and therapeutics.
Though the timeline for finding treatments and preventives for the novel coronavirus is sped up, the collaboration across teams both at UGA and other institutions across the country is familiar to Edison, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in NMR Spectroscopy and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.
“Just about anything that you do to a person or an organism will affect its metabolite levels,” Edison said. “When you wake up in the morning and you have your coffee and your breakfast, that changes your metabolome in a significant way.”
Whether it’s a specific disease or trying to find what makes a plant grow better, if you can measure the metabolites, you can know what’s really going on.