MHRC, University of Manitoba and the Faculty of Medicine, Announce the Launch of Core Basic Science Platforms

May 24, 2012

Over the next 5 years the investment in these core platforms of $2.4 million by the Faculty of Medicine, VPRIO, and MHRC combined with contributions of $900,000 by Manitoba Academic Health Science Network partners, will enable researchers to have access to the state-of-the-art tools needed to be competitive for national funding (e.g. CIHR, NSERC, CFI, CRC, NCE, and Prairie Genome). Moreover, it will assist researchers to form key partnerships nationally and internationally with academic and biotechnology sector organizations:

Next Generation Sequencing Core Platform
Location: Manitoba Institute for Children’s Health (MICH), 523 John Buhler Research Centre
James R. Davie

Next Generation DNA Sequencing has become an essential component of scientific and medical research. Next Generation DNA Sequencing is the sequencing of genomes, which in humans are the three billion base pairs of DNA found in every cell of the body. The capabilities of these instruments allow us to do genetic and epigenetic research. Epigenetics refer to a variety of processes that have heritable effects on gene expression programs without changes in DNA sequence. The life of an individual is not only defined by his/her genome, but also by his/her numerous epigenomes, with different epigenomes being generated through development and disease. Moreover, epigenomes react to environmental influence including diet, exposure to toxins and xenobiotics. Epigenetic responses to environmental stimuli may have long-term consequences, even affecting future generations. Our Next Generation Sequencing platform consists of three different sequencers which use different technologies and have different capacities. Our largest instrument is the Life Technologies SOLiD5500xl which can sequence 2 genomes per week. Our two small instruments are the Ion Torrent PGM and the Illumina MiSeq which can be used to sequence small genomes, such as bacterial genomes or identify mutations within genomes of diseased cells. These techniques are critical to basic, translational and clinical research as well as the advent of personalized medicine.

Lentiviral Vector Viral Particles Production Core Platform
Location: 4th Floor Apotex Centre
Sam Kung, Jiuyong Xie

Understanding how a protein functions in complex biological processes is key to basic biomedical research and identification of novel drug targets in human diseases. Replication-incompetent HIV-1 based lentiviral vectors have become widely popular in the manipulations and functional analyses of a protein of interest in cells. Key to the successful uses of lentiviral vectors in these applications is the ability to produce high quality and high-titered lentiviral particles. The latter demands skills and a well-maintained system that can be time-consuming and frustrating to both new and experienced users. The platform will support consistent production of high quality lentiviral particles at a very low cost for Manitoban researchers. It will also expand the users’ base of the existing Faculty of Medicine-funded Biomedical Functionality Resource (that has housed 4 lentiviral vector shRNA libraries and two human ORFeome collections) on campus. The platform will facilitate discovery and validation of gene/protein functions in basic and translational research in Manitoba.


Core Platform for Molecular Imaging
Location: Genomic Center for Cancer Research and Diagnosis (GCCRD), MICB, Room ON6026
Sabine Mai

This core platform, which is part of the GCCRD is a regional/national facility for all cutting edge imaging applications. The goals of the GCCRD are basic and translational research using molecular imaging approaches, as well as the education of students and highly qualified personnel in genomic instability, cancer genetics and all aspects of imaging. The imaging stations include: Microscopy and imaging of live cells; Study of relative nuclear and cytosolic protein levels by quantitative fluorescent immuno-staining; Spectral karyotyping (SKY); Spectral imaging; Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH); Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH); Automatic slide scanning; Histology; Pathology; 3-Dimensional (3-D) imaging; and Deconvolution. We offer services and training in molecular imaging both one on one and through regularly held imaging workshops both at an intermediate and advanced level.

Core Platform for Histology, Histomorphology, and Ultrastructural Imaging (SIM, EM)
Location: Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science, Faculty of Medicine
Thomas Klonisch

The Histomorphology and Ultrastructural Imaging service platform offers: [1] Histomorphology services. This includes tissue processing of paraffin and frozen tissues, various histological staining procedures, and imaging of histological sections. In addition, we offer fluorescent imaging services for the detection of cytoskeletal components in cultured cellsand frozen tissues; and [2] Ultrastructural Imaging services. We perform tissue processing, embedding, and cutting of semi-thin and ultra-thin sections, staining and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) image analysis. This TEM service is to be expanded to include immunodetection using TEM. In addition, we provide a service for structural illumination microscopy (SIM) for high-resolution fluorescent imaging of subcellular structures. The Histomorphology and Ultrastructural Imaging platform will also offer educational modules, which include annual graduate student training courses in Morphological Techniques, Histology, or Ultrastructural Imaging.

Flow Cytometry Core Platform
Location: 4th floor Apotex Centre and 5th floor BMSB
Aaron Marshall, Keith Fowke

Flow cytometry is well established as a clinical diagnostic tool and it remains an essential research tool for multiplex analyses of cellular biomarkers and isolation of rare cell populations. Recent advances in fluorescence labeling and instrumentation have dramatically advanced the analytical and cell sorting capabilities of flow cytometry. The flow cytometry core platform will create an integrated structure for management and promotion of flow cytometry technology. The core will support a wide range of applications including immunophenotyping and biomarker analyses of human samples and animal models, and a wide variety of cell function studies such as cell division, cell death, DNA content, enzyme activity, membrane permeability, ion and redox states. Flow cytometric isolation of rare cell populations based on up to 14 biomarkers is also available. Other services will include consultation on experimental design and data analysis. To educate the user base regarding available instrument capabilities and encourage uptake of the most powerful cell labeling technologies, the core will regularly organize educational workshops.

Core Platform in Mass Spectroscopy Analysis of Proteins and Metabolites
Location: Manitoba Centre for Proteomics and Systems Biology, 799 John Buhler Research
John Wilkins

Mass spectrometry plays an essential role in protein discovery, quantitation, and monitoring of protein modifications, interactions and activities. This type of information is critical for the identification of biomarkers of disease activity or response to therapy and in the understanding of disease process. There are 4 instruments, 2 QqTOF for discovery-based projects and 2 triple quad instruments for quantitative analysis and analysis of posttranslational modifications. The latter instruments can also be used for small molecule quantitation. The Mass Spectrometry core platform will provide advice in experimental design, perform mass spectrometry and data interpretation. Workshops for students and researchers in the instrumentation and methodologies will be on-going.

Large scale RNA and Protein Analysis for immunological biomarkers in health and disease
Location: 4th floor, Apotex Centre
Redwan Moqbel

The complex immune system and response are integral to the development, progress, chronicity and resolution of most medical conditions, such as infectious diseases, autoimmunity, gastro-intestinal disorders and cancers. Unfortunately, identifying, characterizing and monitoring specific biomarkers of inflammation and immune regulation remain elusive especially within the context of translational research programs, including cohort studies in both health and disease. The proposed platform consists of a high throughput Real-time PCR automation system, a high throughput system for simultaneous measurement and analysis of multiple secreted proteins of interest, and an ELISpot system for qualitative and quantitative analyses of activated immune cells. Collectively, the platform will allow large scale and robotic detection of a wide range of immunological biomarkers at both mRNA and protein levels. While focused on immunologically related mRNA and proteins its capabilities can be broadened.

Small Animal and Materials Imaging Core Platform
Location: Room 322 BSMB – relocating to Central Animal Care, basement BSMB
Barbara Triggs-Raine, Andrew Halayko, Robert Madziak

The U of M Small Animal and Materials Imaging Core Facility will bring capabilities for both structural and functional imaging to Manitoba scientists. The Facility will be anchored by currently available equipment including: IVIS (In vivo imaging system) Spectrum optical imager; Skyscan 1176 microCT (computed tomography); and the Siemens microPET (positron emission tomography) P4. These instruments will be co-localized in space currently being renovated in the south-east corner of the basement of the BMSB, within Central Animal Care. The facility could also physically accommodate and integrate additional imaging equipment that is acquired going forward. Management of the Imaging Facility, including instrument operation, research consultation, and knowledge dissemination (e.g. web site, animal care “wet labs”, and workshops/courses on animal imaging) will be the responsibility of an imaging specialist to be hired as Imaging Facility Coordinator.

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