Background, coordinators and main contacts

MaSH has evolved from a group of University of Auckland-based researchers who are passionate about the application of mass spectrometry techniques to a wide range of scientific research. For several years this group has linked researchers together to discuss mass spectrometry techniques and troubleshoot technical challenges. We have partnered with the Centre for eResearch to create MaSH to draw together researchers from across the university to develop a mass spectrometry knowledge base and data analysis capability while fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. We acknowledge the support of the University of Auckland Strategic Research Initiatives Fund for support of MaSH.

Our Goal

To develop an outstanding technical and research support environment to increase the effective impact of University of Auckland mass spectrometry-based research


MaSH People

Gus is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology, and the academic director of the Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry Research Platform at the university. His research interests lie primarily in vision science, where as part of the New Zealand National Eye Centre he utilises imaging mass spectrometry to study the structure and function of the ocular lens. 

Frederik is a Senior Research Fellow in the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre where he has the oversight of the suite of bioanalytical instruments. His main research interest is in the co-development of novel anti-cancer drugs and predictive biomarkers, e.g. hypoxia-activated prodrugs and antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). He uses mass spectrometry to measure small molecules (drugs & metabolites) and for characterisation of intact proteins (ADCs) and is highly supportive of the development of absolute quantitation of proteins through proteotypic peptide analysis (targeted proteomics) as a platform technology in the University of Auckland.

Martin is responsible for the operation of the School of Biological Sciences Mass Spectrometry Facility (3x LC-MS/MS instruments, 3x GC-MS instruments) housed in the Science Centre (Buildings 301 and 302). His main areas of interest and expertise lie in LC-MS/MS analysis of peptides, proteins, drugs, small molecules and lipids. Current areas of ongoing activity are the characterisation of modifications to specific proteins, global quantitative proteomics (SWATH), and the profiling of small molecules and secondary metabolites in complex samples.

Eric is the Technical Services Manager of the Liggins Institute and oversees the three mass spectrometers (two LC-MS/MS instruments and a Q-Exactive) in the Liggins research lab. He has a background in HPLC and small molecule analysis. His expertise is in developing targeted methods for specific groups of compounds by LC-MS/MS with a particular focus on steroid quantitation across a variety of matrices. He has assisted many Ph.D students to learn the wonders of mass spectrometry as an analytical tool and promotes the importance of this technique across the University.

George is focusing on computer programing for quantitative proteomics/metabolomics research. He has adaptive computer scripting strategies to provide highly efficient, robust ‘omics data solutions. He is willing to share his ‘omics experience and provide data analysis support on behalf of the MaSH.

Chris Pook is Research Fellow and biochemist at the Liggins Institute. His research explores the roles chemicals play in biological processes. Particularly how chemical synthesis or fluxes can drive biological outcomes through signalling and regulatory pathways, essential nutrition and toxicity. Chris uses advanced mass spectrometric, chemometric and bioinformatic techniques in his research and has developed a metabolomic platform at the Liggins Institute using the Q-Exactive high resolution tandem mass spectrometer, and high performance liquid chromatography. Using this platform Chris is contributing to multi-disciplinary collaborations spanning diverse fields, such as neonatal health and nutrition; ethnobotany, natural product discovery and pharmacology; and the chemical ecology of host-microbiome interactions. Chris is currently Te Ika-a-Māui (Aotearoa New Zealand’s North Island) representative for the Australia New Zealand Society for Mass Spectrometry [ANZSMS]. 

Jin is a Senior Technologist of the GC-MS part of the Mass Spectrometry Facility at the School of Biological sciences. He provides technologist support for metabolomics analysis, including amino acids, organic acids, fatty acids, and sugars. His research interests lie in the metabolite analysis of grape juice and wine using the GC-MS and LC-MS/MS.

Githal is currently working as an instrumentation technologist of GC-MS and LC-MS, operating and maintaining the instruments and facilities of the Mass-Spectrometry suite housed within the School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland. He holds a BSc (Biomedical science), MSc (Biotechnology) and PhD (Biomedical Science) in the development and application of UHPLC-MS/MS methodology to characterise plasma Fat-Soluble Vitamer profiles in Australian children and adults at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland. Githal also possesses several years of experience in cancer research and has a deep understanding of several analytical techniques and tissue culture used in biomedical research. His main research interests include but not limited to nutritional metabolomics, lipidomics and cancer.

Jagdish is a Senior Research Fellow at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre. His research interest is in the discovery and development of novel small-molecule anti-cancer drugs. His expertise is in pre-clinical pharmacokinetics and drug metabolism (DMPK) studies in rodents and measurement of drug/ metabolites concentration utilising LC-MS/MS and Q-TOF.

MaSH Alumni

Dr Elizabeth McKenzie

Liz is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Medical Sciences. Her research interests lie in the use of volatile biomarkers as diagnostic and investigative tools (volatilomics), where she applies gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) coupled with solid phase microextraction/thermal desorption to study milk, plasma/serum, faeces, skin and urine. She has several volatilomic project collaborations internally, as well as with North Shore Hospital and Auckland University of Technology (AUT). Currently she is investigating the role of symbiotic fungi and yeast in the metabolism of fatty acids in the human gut, using both SPME GC-MS and imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-ToF-MS). She also has an interest in optimisation of untargeted data extraction and curation for mass spectrometry-based metabolomics and has a collaboration with the Department of Statistics developing statistical methods for detection of metabolite dysregulation.

Dr Nicholas Demarais

Nicholas was a Research Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences, and was responsible for the operation of the Bruker SolariX XR 7T Fourier transform-ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer.  His research interests stem from his passion for ion chemistry and mass spectrometry, and include advancing top-down mass spectrometry of macromolecular complexes for structural biology, interogating reaction intermediates through novel ionization sources, and characterizing surfaces and thin-layer materials. Nick now works for Syft Technologies.

Dr Kyriakos Varnava

Kyriakos was a Research Fellow in the Department of Physiology. He has extensive experience in HPLC and LC-MS/MS of small molecules, peptides and proteins. He shared his experience and provided support on behalf of the MaSH for a range of projects including but not limited to sample preparation of proteins, analysis of extracts and fractions of natural products, peptide purification and characterization, etc.

Dr Erica Zarate

Erica Zarate was the Senior Technologist of the GC-MS part of the Mass Spectrometry Facility at the School of Biological sciences. She holds a MSc (Biological Sciences) and a PhD (Biological Sciences) in lipid and fatty acid analysis of sea urchin gonads using the GC-MS from the University of Auckland. She has been working with GC-MS since 2010 during her PhD. Prior to her PhD, Erica worked as Research Technician in the Marine Lab at the University of Auckland managing the research laboratory, performing biochemical analysis and using the TLC-FID. Erica provided technologist support for metabolomics analysis, sample preparation, calibration and maintenance of GC-MS and GC-MS data processing at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Dr Yongchuan Gu

Yongchuan was a Senior Research Fellow in the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre. His research interest mainly lie in characterisation of the DMPK and predictive biomarkers in drug discovery. He also has a deep understanding of varieties of bioanalytical techniques, tissue culture and animal models used in biomedical research. His expertise in the applications of LC-MS/MS on small molecules and targeted proteomics helped researchers to develop robust methods for their projects.