Study level

  • Vacation research experience scheme


Topic status

In progress.

Research centre


Associate Professor Leila Cuttle
Associate Professor
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health
Dr Tuo Zang
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health


This project aims to quantitatively characterise plasma samples from paediatric burn patients using mass spectrometry techniques. Metabolites and proteins in the patients’ plasma will be identified and quantified. The quantitative data will be correlated with clinical information such as burn depth, burn area, first aid treatment and time to heal. The pathways related to wound healing, immune response, inflammatory response, skin cell proliferation and healing will be studied. Potential biomarkers will be identified and validated.

Hundreds of plasma samples have been collected from paediatric burn patients from Perth, Sydney, and Brisbane. The samples are now stored at the QUT Burns and Trauma laboratory in the Centre for Children’s Health Research (CCHR). The metabolites will be extracted from the plasma samples, prepared, and analysed using a gas chromatography – mass spectrometry system. The proteins from the plasma will be enzymatically digested, desalted, and analysed using a liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry system. Data analysis will include automatically matching mass spectrometric spectra with the database by using commercial software and quantification of the spectrum peak. The quantitative data will be analysed by multiple statistical methods.

Research activities

Research activities include:

  • laboratory experiments
  • data analysis
  • drafting or revising conference papers or journal articles.


Expected outcomes are:

  • comprehensive characterisation of plasma samples from paediatric burn patients and control patients in protein and metabolite respects
  • finding out significant biomarkers in plasma.

Skills and experience

You must have:

  • completed a unit of biochemistry or molecular biology i.e. LQB180
  • good pipetting skills
  • a Hepatitis B vaccination to process human samples.



Contact the supervisor for more information.