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The establishment of CREAM in 2006 brought together the major analytical instruments for metabolomics and stable isotope-resolved metabolomics (SIRM), under the direction of experts in the field. The overall mission of the Center is to enable cutting-edge approaches and to provide state-of-the art instrumentation for SIRM, thus promoting fundamental and translational systems biochemical research in the life sciences.

CREAM was established following receipt of an NSF/EPSCoR Metabolomics Initiative Infrastructure Award (EPS-0447479) to Dr. Fan (co-PI) in 2005, expressly to establish a Center of Excellence in Metabolomics. This grant provided the funds to purchase state-of-the-science mass spectrometry and related equipment, which complemented existing NMR instrumentation purchased with funds from an earlier NSF/EPSCoR grant (EPS-0132295; co-PIs R.J. Wittebort and G.R. Pack, Dept. Chemistry). Simultaneous with the creation of CREAM was the establishment of the Mass Spectrometry Service Center (MSSC), which is a cost center created as a mechanism for providing state-of-the-art mass spectrometry instrumentation for metabolomics research and methods development. In keeping with the purposes of the NSF/EPSCoR grant and recommendations of their advisory committee, there is only limited time set aside for non-metabolomics use.

Metabolism is the functional activity of all living cells, and thus this reflects the health status of an organism. Therefore the ability to measure global metabolism in quantitative detail is of fundamental importance in all aspects of biology. Metabolomics is the technical means to carry out global analyses of metabolism, via the ability to identify and quantify a large fraction of all of the metabolites present in a cell, and how they change in response to perturbations. This therefore requires high-end analytical instrumentation, of which mass spectrometry and NMR together are the most appropriate technologies. Furthermore, at CREAM, a particular emphasis is on measurements of metabolic rates and changes by tracing individual atoms though metabolic pathways, via the agency of Stable Isotope Resolved Metabolomics (SIRM) an approach pioneered by the directors of CREAM. Environmental factors come into play both at the extrinsic level (macroenvironment) as represented by diet and pollutants for example, and local environments (microenvironment) as represented by the conditions prevailing outside cells in tissues.

The major focus has always been, and will continue to be, inclusion of CREAM as a Core Facility in major multi-investigator proposals, as well as support to obtain preliminary results to improve the competitiveness of extramural proposals. Instrument service of non-metabolomics proposals and grants was advised against by the NSF/EPSCoR external advisory committee, nevertheless CREAM, via the MSSC, has supported the UofL community in across a wide variety second-priority tier (non-metabolomics) research. In the last five years, CREAM has been an important component in a large number of individual and multi-investigator federal and state grant proposals, both within the University and with external collaborators. The Institute welcomes such collaborations, which form part of its overall mission to promote metabolomics research.

Since its inception, CREAM has supported more than $22M in grant funding (>$21 M federal), more than 100 publications and 130 abstracts since 2008 arising from research involving the technology. The research is also disseminated by invited seminars given at institutions or national and international conferences.

Here is a more detailed description of CREAM activities.
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