Eberlin Lab for Medical Mass Spectrometry


About the Lab


Our laboratory’s expertise is in the development and application of direct mass spectrometry technologies for tissue analysis and disease detection. Our research projects are focused on the identification of metabolic markers of cancer and other diseases, as well as in the development of mass spectrometry technologies and medical devices for surgical use.

We use a combination of chemistry, mass spectrometry, statistical analysis, machine learning, and device prototyping techniques to solve complex problems in biomedical research and develop new technologies to improve patient care.

We are keenly interested in improving clinical decision-making for cancer diagnosis and during surgery by providing clinicians with disease-predictive metabolic information in near real-time, as well as building a deeper understanding of disease progression, prognosis, and treatment strategies.

One of our exciting inventions, the MasSpec Pen technology, has been featured on the television series Grey’s Anatomy and is currently being tested by surgeons in the Texas Medical Center. We also develop cutting-edge mass spectrometry imaging technology to spatially interrogate molecular composition in tissues and in challenging clinical samples.

Our lab is funded by the NIH, CPRIT and other medical and research foundations.


Mass Spectrometry of Tissues for Biomarker Discovery

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We have developed several methods using desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) MS imaging to improve specificity in the detection and imaging of hundreds of metabolites and lipids directly from human tissue sections. 

Development of Diagnostic Methods for Clinical Use

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Using DESI-MS imaging and other direct MS techniques, we are optimizing experimental protocols and data analytics to maximize molecular coverage and sensitivity to detect diagnostic molecules from patient samples that have complex cellular and molecular composition. 

Intraoperative and Medical Mass Spectrometry

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Our team has made significant contributions to the field of in vivo MS analysis by developing and translating MS systems to the operating room, thereby enabling in vivo molecular measurements of the dynamic metabolic information that can help stratify disease and guide treatment decisions for patients in real time. 

Rapid Identification of Infectious Diseases

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We are particularly interested in using the MasSpec Pen technology to look at molecular signatures of clinically relevant bacteria and identify markers to antibiotic resistant. 

Advanced Data Analytics and Statistical Methods

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Our lab has developed many data analysis workflows adapting and integrating sophisticated statistical methods to evaluate complex molecular datasets that we obtain with MS technologies. 

Media Component

The MasSpec Pen


Recent Publications


Hiram Subhra Base, Meredith Spradlin, Tian Weihua, Jose Enriquez, Pratip Bhattacharya, Livia S. Eberlin, "Glutaminase inhibitors block metabolic switch in prostate cancer and prevents anti-androgen treatment resistance", Cancer Res (2023) 83 (7_Supplement): 6035.

Mary E. King, Monica Lin, Meredith Spradlin, and Livia S. Eberlin, "Advances and Emerging Medical Applications of Direct Mass Spectrometry Technologies for Tissue Analysis", Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry, 2023.

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