Liam joined the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences in May 2018 under the Loughborough Excellence 100 scheme. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Bioanalytical Science in October 2022 and has a research interest in high-throughput measurement of small molecule metabolite biomarkers. He is actively working on projects that span multiple disciplines including clinical diagnostic and prognostic applications, sports anti-doping analyses, and biomonitoring of exercise performance/fatigue. His work is centred around the application of analytical chemistry applying both gas chromatography- and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.

In October 2022, Liam was voted onto The Analytical Scientists 40 Under 40 Power List. This prestigious list highlights the most influential early-to-mid career researchers in analytical science. Liam’s inclusion on the list demonstrates his work in developing and disseminating the use of analytical science to a wider audience within the research community, specifically through opening up new opportunities for academics within the sports and health sectors to engage with analytical science to improve the options available to answer their research questions.

Previous to his current academic role, Liam studied an undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough University, where he continued to a master's in Exercise Physiology and a PhD in Analytical Chemistry (mass spectrometry). Prior to his current position, Liam spent time as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leicester’s NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Centre, working in the John and Lucille van Geest Biomarker Facility.

Liam’s research is focussed on the measurement of small molecule metabolite biomarkers using liquid and gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. Current research projects include the analysis of clinical cohorts, as well the application of mass spectrometric techniques in health, toxicology, anti-doping, and exercise-based investigations. In November 2021, Liam visited the German Sport University Cologne to undertake a short-term research scholarship in the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratory where he worked under the supervision of the Institute’s lead scientist and Chair, Professor Mario Thevis.

Across his career, Liam has been involved in successful research funding awards from multiple sources including industry, MRC, EPSRC, Partnership for Clean Competition, and the German Academic Exchange Service.

Current research projects within Liam’s team include:

  • The measurement of gut microbiota-derived metabolites as novel biomarkers in renal disease
  • Multi-omic investigations to identify biomarkers of tissue development
  • Manipulation of gut microbial metabolism for exercise performance and recovery
  • The development of rapid ambient analyses for anti-doping measurements.

Liam is involved in local, regional and international activities focussed on the application of mass spectrometry-based assays in research. He sits as an elected Committee Member of the British Mass Spectrometry Society, a member on the editorial advisory boards for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine and Analytical Science Advances, and Associate Editor for the Journal of Mass Spectrometry and Advances in the Clinical Lab. He is also a registered mentor as part of the Females in Mass Spectrometry (FeMS) mentoring scheme.

Liam has delivered invited research presentations at numerous events including a recent Keynote Presentation at Beneficial Microbes (2021). He has also delivered invited talks to the British Society of Mass Spectrometry, the London Biological Mass Spectrometry Discussion Group, the European College of Sport Science, and has regularly contributed special interest articles in The Analytical Scientist and Bioanalysis-Zone. Furthermore, in 2017, Liam was invited to present his research in Parliament as a Finalist in the STEM for Britain competition. STEM for Britain is designed for the UK’s most promising Early Career Researchers to disseminate their work. It is a prestigious annual event which is attended by a significant number of Members of Parliament and Peers, and is sponsored by Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chair of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.

Featured publications

  • Bain JT, Taal MW, Selby NM, Reynolds JC, Heaney LM. Simple, high-throughput measurement of gut-derived short-chain fatty acids in clinically relevant biofluids using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Journal of Mass Spectrometry and Advances in the Clinical Lab 2022;25:36-43. DOI: 10.1016/j.jmsacl.2022.07.002
  • Rankin-Turner S, Turner MA, Reynolds JC, Heaney LM. Applications of Ambient Ionization Mass Spectrometry in 2021: An Annual Review. Analytical Science Advances 2022;3:67-89. DOI: 10.1002/ansa.202100067
  • Bongiovanni T, Ong Li Yin M, Heaney L. The athlete and gut microbiome: SCFAs as potential ergogenic aids for exercise and training. International Journal of Sports Medicine 2021;42:1143-58. DOI: 10.1055/a-1524-2095
  • Heaney LM, Kang S, Turner MA, Lindley MR, Thomas CLP. Metabolomic study of the exhaled breath of swimmers: evidence for alternative elimination profiles of disinfection by-products and potential markers of airway responses to chlorinated water exposure. Indoor Air 2020;30:284-93. DOI: 10.1111/ina.12630
  • Heaney LM. Applying mass spectrometry-based assays to explore gut microbial metabolism and associations with disease. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine 2020;58:719-32. DOI: 10.1515/cclm-2019-0974
  • Heaney LM, Deighton K, Suzuki T. Non-targeted metabolomics in sport and exercise science. Journal of Sports Sciences 2019;37:959-67. DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2017.1305122