The lab was started in the late 1960s with help from the Campbell Soup Company to the MIT Department of Nutrition and Food Science for the purchase of an Hitachi RMU-6E double-focusing mass spectrometer. It was supervised at that time by the late Phil Issenberg, and the research involved food-related areas such as odors, flavors and oxidation products. In the early 1970's the emphasis shifted toward food-related genotoxic substances such as aflatoxins and nitrosamines, and GC-MS was used extensively both to identify potentially toxic food components, and their precursors and metabolites, and to quantitate them.
By 1974, Phil Issenberg had moved to the Eppley Institute in Omaha, and Pete Wishnok joined the Department, working first with Mike Archer (now at the Ontario Cancer Institute) and then with Steve Tannenbaum. Support shifted to NIH (e.g., NIEHS and NCI) and the laboratory became the basis of the Analytical Cores for Program Project Grants under Steve Tannenbaum (Endogenous Nitrite Carcinogenesis in Man) and Jerry Wogan (Molecular Biomarkers of Exposure and Effects of Environmental Carcinogens). Sara Stillwell - who joined the group in 1985 after having worked at the Institute for Lipid Research at Baylor University College of Medicine with the Horning group - has retired. Paul Skipper has had an especially significant role in the development of the accelerator mass spectrometer, and Rosa Lilberman has been a major contributor to this project.
A series of Hewlett Packard/Agilent instruments, including HP5992, HP5995, and HP5972 benchtops, an HP5987 GC-MS, an HP5989B LC-MS and several Agilent ion traps, along with a Finnigan TSQ 7000 and an Applied Biosystems API 3000, were well-used over the intervening years. The current equipment includes an Applied Biosystems/Sciex QStar Elite quadrupole time-of-flight, an Agilent 1100 LC-MSD TOF, an Agilent 6430 triple quadrupole mass spectrometer, and - our newest instrument - an Agilent 6530 quadrupole time-of-flight with a 1290 Infinity UHPLC system. In collaboration with Newton Scientific Instruments, Inc., we have developed GC and LC interfaces for a small accelerator mass spectrometer.
The laboratory has been supported primarily by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Cancer Institute. We have recently begun work on the human-on-a-chip project sponsored by DARPA and NIH.