Ariel D. Anbar, Ph.D.

Professor, School of Earth & Space Exploration
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Arizona State University (ASU)

Ariel D. Anbar is an isotope geochemist with wide-ranging interests, including the use of inorganic mass spectrometry to develop novel "metallomic markers" of disease. Metals and other inorganic elements are ubiquitous in biology and disruptions in their metabolisms are implicated in many diseases. In at least some of these cases such disruptions can be detected with great sensitivity by measuring minute changes in natural isotope abundances of inorganic elements. Anbar was among the pioneers who advanced this measurement capability in the past decade.

Anbar's current efforts in this area focus on developing and validating a marker for metabolic bone diseases, which include lesions from multiple myeloma, metastatic breast and prostate cancers, and osteoporosis. The approach is to measure natural variations in the isotope composition of calcium (Ca) in blood and urine, using high precision mass spectrometry. The Ca isotope technique was recently shown to detect bone loss with much greater sensitivity than existing methods.

The same techniques are used by Anbar and his group to study the evolution of the Earth as a habitable planet. Changes in the amount of O2 in the Earth's atmosphere and oceans through time are a major focus of this research, making use of high precision measurements of iron, molybdenum, and uranium isotopes. This research teaches us about the history of this world, and also informs the search for inhabited worlds beyond Earth.

Anbar is a Professor jointly appointed in the School of Earth & Space Exploration and the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Arizona State University, and directs ASU's NASA-funded Astrobiology Program. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1989 and his Ph.D. in Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology in 1996. Before coming to ASU he was on the faculty of the University of Rochester from 1996 to 2004. In 2002, Anbar was awarded the Geological Society of America’s Donath Medal, and was elected as a Fellow of the GSA.