The O'Brien Laboratory is located in room 2151 and 2152 of the Human Metabolic Research Unit (HMRU) in Martha Van Rensselaer Hall on the Cornell Ithaca campus.

Our main research interests in the laboratory focus on mineral dynamics with an emphasis on pediatric and pregnant populations. To undertake our research projects many of our studies utilize stable mineral isotopes as tracers. These tracers are measured using mass spectrometric instrumentation for high-sensitivity isotopic analyses. Our lab performs these analyses on a state of the art Thermoquest Triton TI magnetic sector thermal ionization mass spectrometer. Analytical services are also provided through collaboration with other academic institutions in the country.

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O'Brien Lab Equipment

The O'Brien Laboratory Triton was installed in the Human Metabolic Research Unit (HMRU) in September 2005 to measure stable mineral isotopes in biological samples. The Triton achieves very precise and accurate isotopic ratios for positive and negative ions and gives the ultimate precision for isotope ratio measurements on solid samples. It uses a proven thermal ionization source and has a unique variable multi-collector platform which can be configured with Faraday detectors and/or miniaturized ion counting detectors for smallest sample sizes. (Thermo Fischer Scientific, Inc., 2008)

The PerkinElmer AAnalyst™ 800 high-performance atomic absorption spectrometer has an automated motorized atomizer exchange that allows switching between flame and graphite furnace AA by a simple software command. The instrument is equipped with a high performance burner system, TotalFlow™ gas controls for flame AA and a Transversely Heated Graphite furnace (THGA) with longitudinal Zeeman-effect background corrector. The graphite furnace system includes True Temperature Control (TTC) and integrated platform tubes providing full Stabilized Temperature Platform Furnace (STPF) conditions for almost interference-free trace metal analysis. The built-in, high-capacity AS-800 autosampler adds exceptional productivity and flexibility. (PerkinElmer, 2008)

For Current O'Brien Lab Members

Lab Meetings take place Mondays at 8:00 a.m. Eastern via Zoom.

If you are interested in working in Professor O'Brien's lab, fill out the O'Brien Lab Application and e-mail it to Dr. Kimberly O'Brien, at

Participant recruitment is ongoing for the FeGenes study. The FeGenes Study, led by the O'Brien and Gu Labs, is seeking participants. This study seeks to understand population differences in iron absorption and status. Please fill out this form if you are interested in participating.

  • Eligibility: healthy, non-smoker, not pregnant or lactating, not a blood donor, 18-50-year-old East Asian or Northern European
  • Time Commitment: approx. 1 hour spread over 2 study visits
  • Study Location: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
  • Honorarium: $20 cash, genetic ancestry information, 2 packed meals
  • Email:
  • Tel: 607-254-5376
  • Katie Delaney successfully defended her degree on April 16, 2021. Congratulations, Katie!
  • Wanhui Kang successfully defended her degree on July 2, 2021. Congratulations, Wanhui!
  • Dr. Christine Akoh is studying at NYU medical school since Fall 2018.
  • Dr. Cora Best received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences and is completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Andy Hoofnagle at University of Washington Medicine in Seattle.
  • Dr. Yuan Ru is now a postdoctoral associate at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.
  • Dr. Carrie Thomas is currently an Assistant Professor at Regis College.
  • Dr. Corrie Whisner is currently an associate professor at Arizona State University.

kimberly o'brien

Kimberly O'Brien, Ph.D.
230 Savage Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
(607) 255-3743