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Mary Beth Donnelley Clinical Pharmacology Core Facility

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The mission of the Mary Beth Donnelley Clinical Pharmacology Core Facility is to provide state-of-the-art quantitative mass spectrometry-based support to Northwestern University investigators as an integral part of bench-to-bedside drug development. The Core Facility was established to foster preclinical and clinical pharmacologic collaboration with anyone with a question that can be addressed with the resources at our disposal. To that end, the Core provides support for in vitro studies and both preclinical and clinical studies of a variety of small molecules, including, but not limited to, cancer chemotherapeutic agents, analgesics, and antidepressants. Expertise includes optimizing the design, conduct, analysis, interpretation, and reportage of pharmacokinetic studies. The Core Facility has extensive experience in biological sample preparation, quantitative mass spectrometric drug concentration measurement, and drug concentration versus time data modeling. Small molecule concentrations in plasma and other body fluids are measured using a Sciex 6500 QTrap with UPLC and nano LC or an Agilent HPLC system linked to an Applied Biosystems API 3000 triple quadrupole mass spectrometer after sample preparation by, for example, solid-phase extraction. Drug concentration versus time relationships are fitted to various compartmental pharmacokinetic models using commercially available and specialized software. The pharmacokinetic models can then be used to design dosing schedules for compounds in early preclinical and clinical studies or dosing schedules for products already approved for use by the FDA that take into account the effects of drug interactions, age, sex, ethnicity, or other factors as part of developing personalized medical treatments. 

Consultations Offered

  • Research planning  
  • Experimental design
  • Grant preparation
  • Study conduct
  • Data analysis
  • Results interpretation
  • Manuscript preparation

Services Offered

  • Small molecule concentration measurement in biological fluids
  • Pharmacokinetic modeling of drug concentration versus time relationships
  • Analysis of drug concentrations in tissue samples (groups must collect and homogenize tissue samples in preparation for concentration measurement after consultation with the core)

Equipment Available

  • Sciex 6500 Q-Trap MS with Shimadzu  LC-30A UPLC and Thermo Dionex Ultimate3000 nano UPLC
  • Bruker Impact II q-ToF with Bruker Evo UPLC and Thermo Dionex Ultimate3000 nano UPLC
  • Applied Biosystems API3000 with Agilent 1100 HPLC
  • Biological safety level II laminar flow hood
  • High throughput solid-phase extraction



Michael J. Avram, PhD
Scientific Adviser

Ben Owen, PhD


Integrated Molecular Structure Education and Research Center
Technological Institute, B Wing, Evanston


All manuscripts and grants presenting work supported by this core should include the following acknowledgement:

"This work was supported by the Clinical Pharmacology Core Facility at Northwestern University and NIH S10 OD021786.."