Analytical Unit

The Lipidomics Shared Resource at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center provides intellectual and physical resources (including state-of-the-art mass spectrometry analysis of sphingolipids and synthetic molecular tools), including an analysis unit. To request services, please use our Analytical Services Request Form (PDF).


Operations Manager

Jason S. Pierce, MS

Laboratory Personnel

Aiping Bai, Ph.D.
Min Cai, Ph.D.
Octavia Mitchell, BS


Children's Research Institute
Room 505C
173 Ashley Ave., Charleston, SC 29425


The analytical unit provides sample preparation/lipid extraction, data normalization measurements (levels of inorganic phosphate/sample), and lipid analysis based on High-Performance Liquid Chromatography-tandem Mass Spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) or Supercritical Fluid Chromatography-tandem Mass Spectrometry (SFC-MS/MS) approaches.

The core provides both qualitative (compound identification) and quantitative mass spectral analysis of key lipids from different biological materials (cells, tissues, serum, blood) with assays to measure over 300 different sphingolipid and DAG components at a basic metabolomics level.

Units & Pricing

Analytical Services Request Form (PDF) registered supplier logo

Analytical Approach

Quantitative analyses of sphingolipids are based on eight-point calibration curves generated for each target analyte. The synthetic standards along with a set of internal standards are spiked into an artificial matrix, then subjected to an identical extraction procedure as the biological samples. The extracted standards are then analyzed by the HPLC/MS/MS or SFC/MS/MS system operating in positive multiple reaction-monitoring (MRM) mode employing a gradient elution. Plotting the analyte/internal standard peak area ratios against analyte concentrations generates the analyte specific calibration curves. Any lipid with no authentic standards is quantitated using the calibration curve of its closest counterpart.

Reference: Bielawski, J., et al. (2009) Comprehensive Quantitative Analysis of Bioactive Sphingolipids by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography–Tandem Mass Spectrometry, Methods Mol Biol. 2009;579:443-67. PMID: 19763489. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60761-322-0_22.


  • Thermo Scientific TSQ Quantum Access Max Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometers with Thermo Scientific Vanquish uHPLC Chromatography System (Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography)
  • Thermo Scientific TSQ Quantum Access Max Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometers with Waters Acquity SFC/UPC2 Chromatography System (Supercritical Fluid Chromatography)

These instruments have available electrospray ionization (ESI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) probes for various applications.