Nicola joined Murdoch University in 2019 as a Senior Lecturer in Phenomics based at the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) and Centre for Computational and Systems Medicine (CCSM). Nicola is fascinated with understanding the complex interactions between our genetics, evironment and lifestyle in health and disease, and applies metabolic phenotyping to reveal chemical changes in several disease areas, with a particular interest in cardiometabolic health. Her expertise are in the application of analytical techniques, specifically liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), for metabolite phenotyping to elucidate changes that correlate with disease. The application of metabolic phenotyping improves our understanding of the mechanisms of disease development and allows for the discovery and validation of biomarkers of disease for earlier detection and improved health outcomes through personalised treatment.
Nicola’s interests lie in developing new mass spectrometry-based methods to investigate metabolism and characterise metabolic signatures of disease, the microbiome and microbe-host interactions. Her research focuses on the development and application of novel chromatographic and mass spectrometric approaches for molecular phenotyping. She has a strong interest in the role of lifestyle and diet in maintaining health, in particular in the investigation of environmental factors in the development of diabetes and obesity. Prior to joining Murdoch University, Nicola’s research focused on nutritional biomarkers and the development of mass spectrometry tools for the development of objective measures of dietary assessment for large-scale epidemiology studies. She also studied the metabolism of polyphenols and the influence of the gut microbiome on the metabolism of bioactive components of our diet to determine their effects on cardiovascular health.
Nicola has over 10 years’ experience in developing and validating liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) methods, ensuring assays are robust and reliable for the analysis of samples from large-scale population studies. Based at the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC), she is implementing targeted LC-MS/MS assays that will be used for investigating population health, including the measurement of amino acids, bile acids, short chain fatty acids, lipids and lipid mediators. Her work has resulted in the development and application of novel assays to profile and quantify metabolites in biological fluids, tissue samples, and cell lines. Nicola’s current research projects span a breadth of clinical applications including microbial metabolites and the lung-gut axis in cystic fibrosis, the use of probiotics in intensive care patients, burn wound healing and SARS-CoV-2 infection and severity.
Nicola has several years of experience serving on national and international committees within her discipline. She currently sits on the West Coast Mircobiome Network (WCMN), the Australian and New Zealand Metabolomics Network (ANZMN), Mass Spectrometry Applications in the Clinical Laboratory-Europe (MSACL-EU) and Females in Mass Spectrometry (FeMS) organising committees, enabling her to contribute to the global effort of supporting early-career and female scientists. Within Murdoch University she is also part of the Gender Diversity Working Party.
Research Students and Teaching
In education, Nicola has taught at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, has contributed to the development of a new Master of Research in Systems Medicine at Murdoch and co-ordinates the Cardiometabolic Health unit of this program. Nicola is passionate about educating the next generation and supporting and mentoring early career scientists, and has extensive experience of providing hands-on training to students and professional scientists in industry.
Nicola currently supervises two PhD students, Monique Ryan who researches the inflammatory profile of acute burn wound healing, and Julie Meek who researches the anti-inflammatory properties of milk consumption.
After a BSc Hons in Biomedical Sciences at Newcastle University (UK) and a MSc in Forensic Science at King’s College London (UK), which involved a research placement at the Laboratorio Antidoping FMSI in Rome (Italy), Nicola obtained her PhD in 2013 from King’s College London in analytical chemistry applied to anti-doping testing. Her PhD research evaluated ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) couple to mass spectrometry (MS) for the quantification of small molecule doping agents and involved working as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games testing program. In 2013, she began working for Waters Corporation as a Senior Scientist based at Imperial College London where she was responsible for liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) assay development and technology evaluation to support large-scale metabolic phenotyping for the National Phenome Centre in the UK. Nicola took the position of LC-MS and Clinical Market Specialist with Shimadzu UK in 2016 where she was responsible for pre- and post-sales support, LC-MS method development, collaboration and business development in the clinical market. In 2017, she joined the nutritional epidemiology research group of Professor Gunter Kuhnle at the University of Reading (UK) as a post-doctoral research associate working on the development of LC-MS assays for the detection of nutritional biomarkers as objective measures of dietary intake and the association between polyphenol metabolism and health. She left the University of Reading in 2019 to join the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) and Centre for Computational and Systems Medicine (CCSM) at Murdoch University as a Senior Lecturer in Phenomics, specialising in diabetes and obesity.
Research Publications and More Information
Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Nicola_Gray16