Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is a sensitive mass spectrometric method for detecting and quantifying rare long-lived isotopes with high precision. This technique is widely employed in the earth and environmental sciences and is now being applied in the biomedical fields. AMS is primarily used to in the areas of pharmacology and toxicology to investigate the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of radiolabeled drugs, chemicals, and nutrients, as well as in the detection of chemically modified DNA and proteins in animal models and humans. The exquisite sensitivity (10-18 mol) of AMS allows for the use of low chemical and radioisotope doses and relatively small sample sizes, which enables studies to be performed safely in humans, using exposures that are environmentally or therapeutically relevant. Such studies include risk assessment of environmental toxicants, drug candidate selection, absolute bioavailability determination, pharmacokinetic evaluation, and assessment of drug-target binding as a biomarker of response to chemotherapy. Recent advances in the AMS technology at LLNL have allowed for greater sensitivity enabling the use of lower radioisotope and chemical doses, which are imperative for clinical testing. The ability to perform in-human studies has allowed AMS technology to become a valuable tool for the biomedical sciences.

Speaker Bios


Dr. Michael Malfatti

Dr. Michael Malfatti received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology/Toxicology from the University of California, Davis, and is currently a Senior Biomedical Scientist at LLNL in the Physical and Life Sciences Division.  His current research includes characterizing the low-dose pharmacokinetic, metabolic, and biodistributive properties of toxicants and potential drug leads using accelerator mass spectrometry in an effort to understand their mechanisms of action.  Other focus areas include using a pharmacogenomics approach to understand inter-individual susceptibility to adverse drug reactions, and studying the toxic and/or carcinogenic effects of small molecules in subcellular, cellular, and animal models to determine how these effects relate to human cancer susceptibility. Dr. Malfatti is the author/co-author of over 40 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has presented his work at several international meetings.



Katherine Huang

Katherine Huang has been teaching at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon for the past 7 years.  She teaches Honors Anatomy and Physiology and Accelerated Biotechnology and Research.  She is passionate about integrating molecular biology and bioinformatics research into her classroom with the Waksman Student Scholars Program, which works closely with Rutgers University and Lawrence Livermore National Lab. The project involves sequencing novel Duckweed DNA in hopes of discovering proteins for uses such as bioremediation. Her goal is to motivate and connect students to enter fields in health care and science research that address global environmental issues. Ms. Huang received her BS in Biology at UCLA and MAT at UC Irvine.  Her interests are travel, reading, yoga, and gardening.

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