The National User Resource for Biological Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (bioAMS) is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and serves the entire biomedical user community.

The bioAMS resource increases access to ultra-sensitive carbon-14 measurement capabilities, which enables investigators to measure isotope ratios with high selectivity, sensitivity, and precision. The resource also trains new investigators, expands the national user base, and improves AMS analytical capabilities.

The resource serves biomedical investigators in multiple research areas, including toxicology, pharmacology, immunology, cell biology, cancer biology, and systems biology. It enables investigators to measure isotope ratios with high selectivity, sensitivity, and precision—using a versatile, robust suite of analytical capabilities. For more information regarding how these capabilities can be used to support specific types of biomedical research, visit our highlighted publications page.

Staff at the bioAMS facility help scientists explore how these analytical methods can support their research plan, including the types of samples to collect and the optimal approach to preparing and analyzing those samples. For more information regarding how facility staff support biomedical researchers, and how to use the facility’s resources, visit our user hub.

Community outreach

Inspiring future bioscience researchers often starts by introducing students to career opportunities in bioscience. With this in mind, our staff have an established track record in community outreach—mentoring summer interns and interacting with educators. For example, they give presentations at local high schools, community colleges, and universities. They also actively share their knowledge through engaging with the broader scientific community at conferences. To request an educational presentation regarding bioAMS capabilities, contact us.

History of bioAMS research at LLNL

LLNL’s efforts to leverage the capabilities of AMS technology for biomedical research date back to 1987, when a team of scientists started exploring opportunities to use AMS for low-dose biological research applications. Throughout its history, LLNL researchers have developed AMS-based methods to support research in areas such as environmental toxins, pharmacokinetics, microdosing for cancer research, and bomb-pulse biology, which involves measuring molecular and cellular turnover with high precision in order to date biomolecules and tissue formation.

Explore the timeline to learn more about key milestones in the history of bioAMS research at LLNL.

  • 1987
    Initial vision to use AMS for low-dose biological applications.
  • 1989
    First bioAMS experiments (proof of principle).
  • 1993
    First bioAMS patents awarded to LLNL.
  • 1994
    The first human-subject bioAMS studies conducted at LLNL, which built on a series of proof-of-principle experiments and patents.
  • 1999
    NIH-funded Biomedical Technology Research Resource established at LLNL. Its aim was to develop and apply AMS technology in broad-based biomedical research, filling user needs for ultra-high sensitivity quantitation of isotope-labeled agents. For two decades, the resource focused on demonstrating for bioAMS research, expanding measurement capabilities, providing analytical services, and training others to use bioAMS instruments.
  • 2012
    Liquid sample interface developed.
  • 2015
    BioAMS high-voltage deck installed in an LLNL biomedical lab.
  • 2016
  • 2018
    Commercial, laser-based, carbon-14 measurement instrument developed with industry partner.
  • 2020
    NIH-funded bioAMS user facility established at LLNL. With bioAMS technology and capabilities at a more mature stage, the focus of LLNL’s NIH-funded work shifted from developing and applying AMS technology for biomedical research to operating under a user facility construct, serving researchers from government agencies and academic institutions, and collaborating with industry partners to adapt bioAMS technology for use by the broader biomedical research community.
  • 2022