Research Training Group 2154 - Materials for Brain

RTG Online Colloquium talk by Prof. Pablo Sinues: Translational Breath Research for Clinical Diagnosis and Therapeutic Monitoring

University Children’s Hospital Basel (UKBB), Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Basel, Switzerland

Jan 21, 2021 from 05:00 PM to 06:00 PM


Link to the video-meeting
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Pablo SinuesExhaled breath is an under exploited body fluid, which contains valuable biochemical information at the metabolic level. Hence, it holds great potential as a non-invasive method to assist in clinical decision making. While there has been progress in making use of breath tests to guide clinical decision making, the full potential of exhaled breath analysis still remains to be exploited.
I will present a summary of the technical developments that allowed Secondary Electrospray Ionization-High Resolution Mass Spectrometry to become a reference analytical platform for real-time trace gas analysis. Bio-informatic tools developed in our lab unravel biochemical information encoded in the mass spectral fingerprints of our patients. Subsequently, I will illustrate how are we exploiting this technology in a clinical setting to address unmet clinical needs. For example, I will showcase how we use breath analysis to predict drug blood concentrations in epileptic patients, as well as risk estimates for drug therapy effects as well as side effects. Further examples of the potential of this technique include the diagnosis of infectious respiratory diseases, enabling the identification of the responsible pathogen within minutes. Ultimately, this work aims to improve diagnosis, to better phenotype complex pathophysiological processes, as well as to personalize therapy.


I am a chemist (University of Murcia, Spain) and hold a PhD in Mechanical Engineering (University Carlos III, Spain). I performed my doctoral research in Madrid and at Yale University in the former lab of Prof. John B. Fenn (Nobel Prize winner in 2002) under the supervision of Prof. Juan Fernandez de la Mora. During this period, I became acquainted with electrospray ionization, ion mobility spectrometry and mass spectrometry. During my post-doctorate, I further developed mass-spectrometric methods for the real-time analysis of trace gases. Between 2011 and 2017, I was appointed senior scientist at ETH Zurich (Renato Zenobi’s group), where I deployed these novel analytical methods in a translational research program in collaboration with the University Hospital Zurich. I eventually earned my Habilitation in analytical chemistry at the ETH. I remain affiliated with the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at ETH as Privatdozent ever since. Since 2017, I hold a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor position (Botnar Research Professorship) at the University of Basel (Department of Biomedical Engineering). I am also principal investigator of the Research Network Zurich Exhalomics, which is an initiative by scientists from the Zurich area with the goal to provide technical solutions for the rapid and sensitive on-line analysis of breath. I have co-authored > 50 peer-reviewed papers covering fields ranging from engineering to medicine. In 2018, I was recipient of the Swiss National Science Foundation Eccellenza grant. In 2020 I received the biannual Swiss Group for Mass Spectrometry award for outstanding independent research in the field of mass spectrometry.

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