Tom Mathews, Assistant Professor, Research

Research Focus

We define cellular metabolism as a dynamic process that breaks down small molecules to create energy while simultaneously investing energy to build new ones. For example, sugars are consumed through a series of biochemical reactions to produce energy in the form of ATP. Meanwhile, larger molecules like lipids are constructed for energy storage or structural components of organelles and membranes. While these two classes of molecules have very different chemical characteristics, their direct detection is essential for understanding the metabolic processes at work within an organism and provides valuable insights into cellular homeostasis and disease pathology.

Mass spectrometry is a technique which detects and discriminates biomolecules by their mass-to-charge ratio and is ideally suited to detect and study metabolites. Chemical extraction techniques leverage the unique chemistry of different metabolite classes to enrich them from biological matrices prior to detection. For over 15 years, I focused my research efforts on optimizing the extraction and detection of biomolecules using mass spectrometry. I have applied these approaches to study lipids, proteins, nucleotides, central carbon metabolites, drugs of abuse, environmental toxins, and pharmacological metabolites. I draw on my experience to lead method development within the Metabolomics Facility and support projects throughout CRI.

Tom Mathews earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Virginia and stayed to complete a Ph.D. in bioorganic chemistry. Following his thesis work, Dr. Mathews pursued postdoctoral…
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Select Publications

Faubert, B., Tasdogan, A., Morrison, S.J., Mathews, T.P., and R.J. DeBerardinis. (2021). Stable isotope tracing to assess tumor metabolism in vivo. Nature Protocols 16, 5123-5145. (PubMed)

Ubellacker, J.M., Tasdogan, A., Ramesh, V., Shen, B., Mitchell, E.C. Martin, M., Gu, Z., McCormick, M.L., Durham, A.B., Spitz, D.R., Zhao, Z., Mathews, T.P., and S.J. Morrison. (2020). Lymph protects metastasizing melanoma cells from ferroptosis. Nature 585, 113-118. (PubMed)

DeVilbiss, A.W., Zhao, Z., Martin-Sandoval, M.S., Ubellacker, J.M., Tasdogan, A., Agathocleous, M., Mathews, T.P.,# and S.J. Morrison. (2020). Metabolomic profiling of rare cell populations isolated by flow cytometry from tissues. eLife 10:e61980. (PubMed)

Tasdogan, A., Faubert, B., Ramesh, V., Ubellacker, J.M., Shen, B., Solmonson, A., Murphy, M.M., Gu, Z., Gu, W., Martin, M., Kasitinon, S.Y., Vandergriff, T., Mathews, T.P., Zhao, Z., Schadendorf, D., DeBerardinis, R.J., and S.J. Morrison. (2020). Metabolic heterogeneity confers differences in melanoma metastatic potential. Nature 577, 115-120. (PubMed

Mathews, T.P., Carter, M.D., Johnson, D., Isenberg, S.L., Graham, L.A., Thomas, J.D., and R.C. Johnson. (2017). High Confidence Qualitative Identification of Organophosphorus Nerve Agent Adducts to Human Butyrylcholinesterase. Analytical Chemistry 89, 1955-1964. (PubMed)

# Co-corresponding author

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