I am currently a PDRA studying volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in relation to them being used as putitive biosignatures for life. I am also investigating how VOCs interact in extreme environments termed 'analogue sites' (as they resemble those that could exist on other planetary bodies) and with extremophile microbes. How the environmental VOCs and those produced by the microbial life itself influence the surroundings and each other could give us key information on how to detect them on other planetary bodies. By then combining this volatile or 'volatilomic' data with metagenomic, metabolomic and transcriptomic data we can build a full picture of how life exists and persists in extreme conditions. It also give us a great baseline to compare any mission data to that comes back.
I am also interested in VOCs in relation to planetary protection. This aspect relates to molecular organic comtamination in cleanrooms and the bonding materials (usually silicone based) that are used to adhere components on flight hardware. I completed an STFC-IAA project in 2022 to initially investigate this and hope to expand on it further..
I joint AstrobiologyOU after maternity leave and just as the pandemic and lockdown was rearing its ugly head!
I started my career in Osteopathic Medicine which involved treating patients in both private clinics and the NHS, as well as working with a sporting teams to provide medical care, and teaching a sports massage and rehabilitation diploma. Although I loved the variation in this job, I decided to expand my knowledge even further (because obviously I didn’t have enough to do!) and enrolled myself on a part-time MSc research degree.
I completed said MSc at Cranfield University in Medical Diagnostics and this is where I first got interested in metabolic compounds that could be used as indicators for things like disease. An opportunity arose to then expand on this area by doing a PhD at the Open University (OU) with Professor Claire Turner and Professor John Hunter (Addenbrookes Hospital) on the ‘Use of VOC Profiling in Investigating Diseases of the Gut and Diet Related Conditions’. This is where my introduction to VOCs blossomed, and I developed skills in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), thermal desorption (TD), gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and selective ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS).
While doing my PhD I was involved with ‘The Brilliant Club’ – teaching school age students about my research – which opened my eyes to encouraging under-represented groups in schools to be confident in applying to highly-selective universities. Standing on a soapbox was also required – by being in the first year group to present at Milton Keynes’ public outreach platform ‘Soapbox Science’ event.
Two further PDRA roles lead me into VOC analysis using optical fibre technology, 3D printing diagnostic platforms, and organic compound and surface variation analysis using reflectance UV-spectrophotometry. I also previously taught as an associate lecturer for the OU on their SK299 module – human biology.
The amazing thing about VOC analysis is how the application can move from one area (medical diagnostics) to another (Astrobiology) and still follow similar metabolic pathways and chemistries which when once could determine disease, now could determine life.
Working at the OU has also allowed me to expand on local and international collaboration in the UK (Nottingham University, Cranfield University, University of the West of England, Addenbrookes Hospital, Guy’s Hospital Kings College London, Tharos Ltd) and Japan (The University of Kitakyushu) as well as starting to build industrial links and commercial relationships. Hopefully my current expertise will allow me to further expand my knowledge into the many wonderful corners of Astrobiological research.
A laboratory study to assess the formation of effluent volatile compounds and disinfection by‐products during chemomechanical preparation of infected root canals and application of activated carbon for their removal (2021-04)
Ioannidis, K.; Batty, C.; Turner, C.; Smith, D.; Mannocci, F and Deb, S.
International Endodontic Journal, 54(4) (pp. 601-615)
Ex vivo detection and quantification of apically extruded volatile compounds and disinfection by-products by SIFT-MS, during chemomechanical preparation of infected root canals (2020-02)
Ioannidis, K.; Batty, C.; Turner, C.; Smith, D.; Deb, S. and Mannocci, F.
Dental Materials, 36(2) (pp. 257-269)
Sniffing Out Resistance - Rapid Identification of Urinary Tract Infection-Causing Bacteria and their Antibiotic Susceptibility Using Volatile Metabolite Profiles (2019-04-17)
Smart, Amy; de Lacy Costello, Ben; White, Paul; Avison, Matthew; Batty, Claire; Turner, Claire; Persaud, Raj and Ratcliffe, Norman
Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 167 (pp. 59-65)
Nitrate supplementation in thoroughbred racehorses: Addition of beetroot juice to the equine diet and effects on the gut metabolome (2019-03)
Waring, R. H.; Hunter, J. O.; Turner, C.; Batty, C. and Ramzan, P. H. L.
Integrative Food, Nutrition and Metabolism, 6(2) (pp. 1-4)
Modulation of the equine microbiome by pasture and feed supplements: A metabolomics approach (2019)
Snalune, K. L.; Hunter, J. O.; Waring, R. H.; Cauchi, M.; Turner, C. and Batty, C.
Integrative Food, Nutrition and Metabolism, 6(2) (pp. 1-4)
Is food intolerance a factor underlying chronic immunethrombocytopenia (ITP)? (2018-11)
Batty, Claire A.; Hunter, John O.; Woolner, Jenny; Baglin, Trevor and Turner, Claire
British Journal of Haematology, 183(4) (pp. 683-686)
Differences in microbial metabolites in urine headspace of subjects with Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) detected by volatile organic compound (VOC) analysis and metabolomics (2016-10-01)
Batty, Claire A.; Cauchi, Michael; Hunter, J. O.; Woolner, Jenny; Baglin, Trevor and Turner, Claire
Clinica Chimica Acta, 461 (pp. 61-68)
Characterisation of the faecal metabolome and microbiome of Thoroughbred racehorses (2015-09)
Proudman, C. J.; Hunter, J. O.; Darby, A. C.; Escalona, E. E.; Batty, C. and Turner, C.
Equine Veterinary Journal, 47(5) (pp. 580-586)
Use of the analysis of the volatile faecal metabolome in screening for colorectal cancer (2015-06-18)
Batty, Claire A.; Cauchi, Michael; Lourenco, Celia; Hunter, John O. and Turner, Claire
PLoS ONE, 10, Article e0130301(6)
The use of SIFT-MS in profiling the faecal volatile metabolome in horses with colic: a pilot study (2013-10)
Turner, Claire; Batty, Claire; Escalona, Ebony; Hunter, John O. and Proudman, Christopher
Current Analytical Chemistry, 9(4) (pp. 614-621)
Co-ordinated UV Reflectance and Raman Spectroscopy of Martian Meteorites and Terrestrial Analogue Samples (2019)
Grady, Monica; Abernethy, Feargus; Barrett, Thomas; Batty, Claire; Bedford, Candice and Rowden, Pam
In : 82nd Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society (7-12 Jul 2019, Sapporo, Japan)