Metabolon is adding a new executive and a supporting team with the goal of incorporating its metabolomics technology in large population studies to identify risk factors and targets for preventive health care.

Metabolon, which launched in 2000, defines metabolomics as the study of small molecules called metabolites and is a powerful phenotyping technology for precision medicine. It measures changes in metabolite levels and maps them to the appropriate biochemical pathways to give clinicians a better understanding of health and the influences of genes, microbiome, diet, lifestyle and drug treatment.

The company wants to make sure metabolomics are included in studies to help “accurately reflect the current health status of an individual” beyond just genomics.

The additions announced Wednesday are the latest in a series of moves made by Metabolon in recent months. After raising $15 million in December, Metabolon has added a chief medical officer, partnered with an Israeli firm to target inflammatory diseases, and have disclosed a new pathway to treat liver disease.

Alex Forrest-Hay has joined Vice President of Population Health, a new position. He and “his staff to exclusively focus on” the large cohort studies, Metabolon said. He most recently was Director of Business Development at Affymetrix.

“Genetic and environmental factors influencing health exert their effects by altering metabolite levels,” said Forrest-Hay in the announcement. “As millions of patient samples are collected in these global studies, Metabolon’s technology will provide valuable, integrative knowledge toward understanding gene function and metabolic health. The Population Health team will work with leading government and academic researchers to establish Metabolon as the preferred provider of metabolomics data for these large-scale, multi-omic initiatives. These exciting programs are laying the foundation for using precision medicine in clinical practice, and metabolomics data will be essential for making this a reality.”

Metabolon also added two other staff and will add more, a spokesperson told WRAL TechWire.

“Along with Alex, we have added two additional associates to the Population Health group to cover the U.S. and Europe,” she explained.

“We will continue hiring as needed to support the business.”

The three are already used to working with each other.

“Alex has brought on two former business development colleagues from Affymetrix, all of whom were involved in the UK Biobank and Million Veterans Program deals when working for Affymetrix,” she explained. Both were “multi-million dollar deals.”

Metabolon noted that “population health” efforts are already underway in several countries, including the U.S., with the goal of collecting genetic and biological samples as well as other health information. “This data will become a powerful resource in discovering why some people develop certain diseases and others do not,” the company noted.

Metabolon CEO John Ryals said the new team “will help researchers maximize the value of combining genomics and metabolomics to identify disease risk factors and targets for preventive health care.”

“Alex is a valuable addition to Metabolon because he has such a deep understanding of the goals of these large cohort studies and trusted relationships with population health thought leaders,” he added.