International Metabolomics Conference Hosted by Foods for Health a Great Success

On October 18-21st the OSU Foods for Health Research Initiative (FFH) hosted MANA 2021, the annual meeting of the Metabolomics Association of North America. The conference drew an international audience, with 445 registrants from the US, Canada, Mexico and abroad. 

MANA invited Ohio State to host this scientific meeting in early 2020. Originally planned as an in-person event, conference co-chairs Dr. Jessica Cooperstone (CFAES) and Dr. Rachel Kopec (EHE) pivoted to a virtual conference earlier this year due to ongoing uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic.  “Hosting MANA with the FFH team presented a platform to highlight the work of OSU faculty and students while creating new opportunities for collaboration and providing an important service to the metabolomics community”, says Dr. Cooperstone, a core FFH faculty member. While MANA has a broad mission to promote the growth and development of the field of metabolomics, the conference planning team also worked to ensure that aspects of the program focused on the interdisciplinary research in food and nutrition.  FFH Senior Researcher Dr. Matt Teegarden noted that “the application of metabolomics in food and nutrition research is a cornerstone of the FFH research strategy, so it was a privilege to host a conference that placed a large emphasis on a topic that is rapidly growing here at OSU.”  In addition, conference planners partnered with the OSU Campus Chemical Instrumentation Center (CCIC) and a team led by Dr. Vicki Wysocki to incorporate the “Mass Spec Mornings” to highlight recent developments in mass spectrometry instrumentation often used in metabolomics. 

MANA places a strong emphasis on education, and almost 50% of attendees were trainees or early career researchers.  “The MANA annual meeting provides a great opportunity for young investigators and students to present their research and interact with established experts in the field of metabolomics”, says Dr. Kopec. “The emphasis on engaging early-career scientists played a role in our decision to organize the conference this year.” In fact, OSU was well represented in the oral abstract presentations, with eight students and recent graduates presenting. Graduate students from OSU also participated in the virtual poster session, representing four colleges and departments that included Chemistry and Biochemistry, Food Science & Technology, Horticulture & Crop Science, Human Nutrition, Statistics,  Biological Chemistry & Pharmacology, and Biomedical Informatics. 

In addition to scholarly presentations, MANA 2021 engaged multiple industry partners. Ten corporate sessions were held as part of the program, featuring scientific lectures on metabolomics workflows, improving data quality, and new technologies.  

This four-day conference was viewed as a success by all involved.  Current MANA President, Dr. Tom Metz, Metabolomics Team Lead, Integrative Omics Group at the Pacific Northwest National Library, expressed his gratitude to the OSU FFH team. “OSU delivered an incredible experience for MANA and we are so thankful for the hard work you guys put in.  MANA 2021 was a huge success” says Dr. Metz. MANA vice president Dr. Tracey Schock (National Institute of Standards and Technology) was equally impressed with the Ohio State-led program. “Excellent conference everyone!!!  You killed it, from the content to the production!” says Dr. Schock. 

Foods for Health strives to make OSU a leader in interdisciplinary research that defines the relationship among foods, disease prevention and health promotion.  Hosting this international metabolomics conference supports the FFH vision of healthier lives through scientific discovery across food, nutrition and diet.