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Mass Spectrometry Incubator

Richard F. Helm, Associate Professor, with the Mass Spectrometry Incubator

New Developments

Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, commonly known as PFAS (or forever chemicals), are synthetic compounds associated with the production of everyday items. Almost all Americans have detectable levels of PFAS in their blood, and the substances can be detected in many of our water supplies. 

The VT-MSI has developed LC-MS based assays for the most common PFAS, based upon EPA Method 537.1, as well as the developing protocol known as EPA Draft Method 1633. If you have a project that requires the determination of PFAS, please contact us.

A stream in a wooded forest.

Our Mission

The Mass Spectrometry Research Incubator (VT-MSI) is an open facility that supports Virginia Tech's research infrastructure as a mass spectrometry analysis and education center. The facility provides the tools and skills needed for answering key questions in chemical and life sciences research.

About the Facility

The VT-MSI is designed to serve both funded research and proposal development efforts. As a collaborative research "incubator" we seek to develop and expand mass spectrometry-based proteomic and metabolomic efforts on the VT campus. We provide training in the areas of sample preparation, instrument operation and data analysis, with strong emphasis on the metadata and analytical requirements for publication of metabolomic and proteomic results.  

Funding for the facility operations is provided in large part by the Department of Biochemistry and the Fralin Life Sciences Institute. Other key contributors include ICTAS and the Departments of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Human Nutrition Foods and Exercise, and Plant Pathology and Weed Science.

Those interested in proteomic or metabolomic work are strongly encouraged to contact the VT-MSI before embarking on proposal development, experimental design and/or sample collection. 

Hopkins WA, DuRant SE, Beck ML, Keith Ray W, Helm RF, Michael Romero L. Gen Comp Endocrinol. "Cortisol is the predominant glucocorticoid in the giant paedomorphic hellbender salamander (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)." 2019 Sep 3:113267. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2019.113267. PMID:31491375

Liu L, Yi J, Ray WK, Vu LT, Helm RF, Siegel PB, Cline MA, Gilbert ER. "Fasting differentially alters the hypothalamic proteome of chickens from lines with the propensity to be anorexic or obese." Nutr Diabetes. 2019 Apr 1;9(1):13. doi: 10.1038/s41387-019-0081-1.PMID:30931934

Chen Y, Barat B, Ray WK, Helm RF, Melville SB, Popham DL. "Membrane Proteomes and Ion Transporters in Bacillus anthracis and Bacillus subtilis Dormant and Germinating Spores." J Bacteriol. 2019 Feb 25;201(6). pii: e00662-18. doi: 10.1128/JB.00662-18. Print 2019 Mar 15. PMID:30602489

Watkinson JI, Bowerman PA, Crosby KC, Hildreth SB, Helm RF, Winkel BSJ. "Identification of MOS9 as an interaction partner for chalcone synthase in the nucleus." PeerJ. 2018 Sep 19;6:e5598. doi: 10.7717/peerj.5598. eCollection 2018. PMID:30258711

Compton KK, Hildreth SB, Helm RF, Scharf BE. "Sinorhizobium meliloti Chemoreceptor McpV Senses Short-Chain Carboxylates via Direct Binding. J Bacteriol. 2018 Nov 6;200(23). pii: e00519-18. doi: 10.1128/JB.00519-18. Print 2018 Dec 1. PMID:30201781

Gonzalez F, Helm RF, Broadway KM, Scharf BE. "More than Rotating Flagella: Lipopolysaccharide as a Secondary Receptor for Flagellotropic Phage 7-7-1." J Bacteriol. 2018 Sep 10;200(19). pii: e00363-18. doi: 10.1128/JB.00363-18. Print 2018 Oct 1. PMID:30012730

Shipton C, Roberts P, Archer W, Armitage SJ, Bita C, Blinkhorn J, Courtney-Mustaphi C, Crowther A, Curtis R, Errico F, Douka K, Faulkner P, Groucutt HS, Helm R, Herries AIR, Jembe S, Kourampas N, Lee-Thorp J, Marchant R, Mercader J, Marti AP, Prendergast ME, Rowson B, Tengeza A, Tibesasa R, White TS, Petraglia MD, Boivin N. "Publisher Correction: 78,000-year-old record of Middle and Later Stone Age innovation in an East African tropical forest." Nat Commun. 2018 Jun 5;9(1):2242. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04753-0. PMID:29872049

Lapierre C, Voxeur A, Karlen SD, Helm RF, Ralph J. "Evaluation of Feruloylated and p-Coumaroylated Arabinosyl Units in Grass Arabinoxylans by Acidolysis in Dioxane/Methanol."
J Agric Food Chem. 2018 May 30;66(21):5418-5424. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.8b01618. Epub 2018 May 18. PMID:29763561

Shipton C, Roberts P, Archer W, Armitage SJ, Bita C, Blinkhorn J, Courtney-Mustaphi C, Crowther A, Curtis R, Errico F, Douka K, Faulkner P, Groucutt HS, Helm R, Herries AIR, Jembe S, Kourampas N, Lee-Thorp J, Marchant R, Mercader J, Marti AP, Prendergast ME, Rowson B, Tengeza A, Tibesasa R, White TS, Petraglia MD, Boivin N. "78,000-year-old record of Middle and Later stone age innovation in an East African tropical forest." Nat Commun. 2018 May 9;9(1):1832. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04057-3. Erratum in: Nat Commun. 2018 Jun 5;9(1):2242. PMID:29743572

Whiten SR, Ray WK, Helm RF, Adelman ZN. "Characterization of the adult Aedes aegypti early midgut peritrophic matrix proteome using LC-MS." PLoS One. 2018 Mar 23;13(3):e0194734. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194734. eCollection 2018. PMID:29570734

Shi H, Munk A, Nielsen TS, Daughtry MR, Larsson L, Li S, Høyer KF, Geisler HW, Sulek K, Kjøbsted R, Fisher T, Andersen MM, Shen Z, Hansen UK, England EM, Cheng Z, Højlund K, Wojtaszewski JFP, Yang X, Hulver MW, Helm RF, Treebak JT, Gerrard DE. "Skeletal muscle O-GlcNAc transferase is important for muscle energy homeostasis and whole-body insulin "sensitivity. Mol Metab. 2018 May;11:160-177. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2018.02.010. Epub 2018 Feb 24. PMID:29525407

Slade WO, Ray WK, Hildreth SB, Winkel BSJ, Helm RF. Exogenous Auxin Elicits Changes in the Arabidopsis thaliana Root Proteome in a Time-Dependent Manner. Proteomes. 5 [2017]. pii: E16. PubMed: 28698516; PMCID: PMC5620533.

Vu LT, Orbach SM, Ray WK, Cassin ME, Rajagopalan P, Helm RF. The hepatocyte proteome in organotypic rat liver models and the influence of the local microenvironment. Proteome Sci. 15 [2017] 12. PubMed: 28649179; PMCID: PMC5480101.

Miller DV, Ruhlin M, Ray WK, Xu H, White RH. N(5), N(10)-methylenetetrahydromethanopterin reductase from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii also serves as a methylglyoxal reductase. FEBS Lett. 591 [2017] 2269-2278. PubMed: 28644554.

Webb BA, Compton K, Castañeda Saldaña R, Arapov TD, Keith Ray W, Helm RF, Scharf BE. Sinorhizobium meliloti chemotaxis to quaternary ammonium compounds is mediated by the chemoreceptor McpX. Mol. Microbiol. 103 [2017] 333-346. PubMed: 27748981.

Velander P, Wu L, Ray WK, Helm RF, Xu B. Amylin amyloid inhibition by flavonoid baicalein: Key roles of its vicinal dihydroxyl groups of the catechol moiety. Biochemistry. 55 [2016] 4255-4258. PubMed: 27431615.

Berardi AE, Hildreth SB, Helm RF, Winkel BS, Smith SD. Evolutionary correlations in flavonoid production across flowers and leaves in the Iochrominae (Solanaceae). Phytochemistry. 130 [2016] 119-127. PubMed: 27291343.

Liu H, Ray WK, Helm RF, Popham DL, Melville SB. Analysis of the spore membrane proteome in Clostridium perfringens implicates cyanophycin in spore assembly. J. Bacteriol. 198 [2016] 1773-1782. PubMed: 27068591

Webb BA, Helm RF, Scharf BE. Contribution of individual chemoreceptors to Sinorhizobium meliloti chemotaxis towards amino acids of host and nonhost seed exudates. Mol. Plant Microbe Interact. 29 [2016] 231-239. PubMed: 26713349.

Wang A, Duncan SE, Knowlton KF, Ray WK, Dietrich AM. Milk protein composition and stability changes affected by iron in water sources. J. Dairy Sci. 99 [2016] 4206-4219. PubMed: 27060822.

Jervis J, Kastl C, Hildreth SB, Biyashev R, Grabau EA, Saghai-Maroof MA, Helm RF. Metabolite profiling of soybean seed extracts from near-isogenic low and normal phytate lines using orthogonal separation strategies. J. Agric. Food Chem. 63 [2015] 9879-9887. PubMed: 26487475.

Jervis J, Hildreth SB, Sheng X, Beers EP, Brunner AM, Helm RF. A metabolomic assessment of NAC154 transcription factor overexpression in field grown poplar stem wood. Phytochemistry. 115 [2015] 112-120. PubMed: 25771508.

Rich Helm


Richard F. Helm, Associate Professor
(540) 231-4088

Mass Spectrometry Incubator
1015 Life Science Circle
Blacksburg, VA 24061

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