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Emily Gentry receives Academy of Data Science Discovery Fund award

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Category: research Video duration: Emily Gentry receives Academy of Data Science Discovery Fund award
Emily Gentry, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been named the recipient of a research award from the Academy of Data Science Discovery Fund. She discusses her current project, which aims to discover and phenotype new dietary phytochemical metabolites in humans.
So the project is really looking fundamentally at how different individuals can metabolize dietary nutrients differently, based on the composition of their microbiomes. We're looking at this rheumatoid arthritis data set, where the patients underwent a dietary intervention study and half of them saw a huge difference by going on this diet, and then the other half didn't see any difference at all. We're interested in looking at this population of responders versus non responders, and trying to figure out if there's some fundamental difference in the way that these responders metabolize their food, and if it's different than these non responders. We very much look at the chemistry of our microbiomes and try to think about holistically, like how that might affect our health. It enabled one of my students to do all the work that this project requires. So she's already finished all the synthesis, but now she's still in the midst of the data analysis, but she's been able to already generate MS/MS spectra, these tandem mass spectra for hundreds of compounds, which is pretty cool. MS/MS spectra is kind of like a structural fingerprint or a molecular fingerprint. It gives structural details about a molecule. So these are the types of things that are used to do metabolomics experiments that help us better understand how the chemistry of the body works. We're giving all of the spectra, these library spectra, to the public. And we're really enabling the community to be able to have a better idea of the identity of the small molecules in our body. Many people don't know this, but we actually don't know about 95% of the molecules in our body. We only know about 5%. I'm trying to figure out that other 95%. Monetarily wise, rate it to get started on this project, which is huge and generated a lot of data already. But then in terms of other resources, right, it just helps us become a part of the Virginia Tech Data Sciences community.