Dr. Ruth Welti
Cancer is caused by alterations in genes that code for proteins involved in the regulation of cellular development, growth, or death. Many of these proteins are components of the pathways that allow a cell to share information with its neighbors (signal transduction pathways). An important subset of proteins in signal transduction pathways are those that act on lipids to produce lipid or lipid-derived signals. One approach to understanding the function of these proteins is to catalog the hundreds of types of lipids in a cell. This “lipid profiling” or “lipidomic” approach leads to identification of the exact lipid substrates and products of these proteins, thus defining their biochemical action. By comparing the lipid profiles of normal and cancer (transformed or mutant) cells, the potential cancer-causing roles of proteins involved in lipid-signaling can be determined.
Dr. Welti is director of the Kansas Lipidomics Research Center at Kansas State University, which is dedicated to providing the latest technology for comprehensive, quantitative, high-throughput profiling of lipids to scientists from around the world. The Laboratory houses several electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometers, gas chromatography mass spectrometers, and personnel to carry out lipid profiling. The center’s activities involve scientists specializing in lipid research at K-State and beyond.