Stowers Institute for Medical Research
- North America
- United States
- Service category
- Academic collaboration, Analytical laboratory and testing services
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- Animal / disease model
- Cell-lines / cell banks
- Cell-related services
- Flow cytometry
- Histology / histopathology
- Imaging / autoradiography
- Laboratory services
- Molecular biology
- PCR techniques
- Screening services
Research support services
An important cornerstone of the Stowers Institute’s philosophy is to provide a first-rate scientific infrastructure and easy access to the latest technology. Each core is headed by an expert in the field committed to the development, implementation and optimization of cutting-edge methodologies and instrumentation for the benefit of research programs at the institute. The small size of the institute’s research community allows the more than 100 highly trained scientists working in the research support cores to collaborate closely with Stowers investigators and to quickly adjust technical applications and support services to the requirements of individual labs. This not only promotes interdisciplinary research but also enables investigators to take advantage of the readily available expertise to expand their own research into new areas. What would take months and years elsewhere is often accomplished within days and weeks at the Stowers Institute.
The Computational Biology facility provides service, training, collaborations and the development of new applications in the areas of sequence analysis, expression/ChIP analysis, general statistical and numerical analysis and support for scientific software and databases.
The Cytometry Center is a state-of-the-art flow cytometry laboratory that specializes in the identification and isolation of rare target cell populations and the use of cytometric tools for studies of developmental biology.
The Electron Microscopy Facility assists with sample fixation and preparation for routine histology and ultra-structural analysis.
The Histology Facility offers expert service for the detection of gene and protein expression in tissue samples and performs histochemical staining.
The Imaging Facility specializes in the development and application of innovative imaging tools including tools such multicolor cell labeling and multispectral imaging strategies, photo-activatable fluorescent reporters and calcium indicators, deep tissue embryo imaging as well as laser capture microdissection and gene expression analysis.
Laboratory Animal Services
The Laboratory Animal Services (LAS) Facility provides the institute’s research staff with the highest quality laboratory animal care and support services using the most sophisticated equipment, advanced technology, and a progressive staff in a premier animal facility.
Media Preparation & Tissue Culture
The Media Preparation Facility prepares commonly used solutions and media, while the tissue culture laboratory grows widely used cell lines and can maintain, expand and store specific cell lines as requested.
The Microscopy Facility focuses on light as tool for imaging and measuring biological systems. It uses and develops software for image processing and data analysis.
The Molecular Biology Facility provides DNA sequencing, next-generation sequencing, microarrays, custom automation, site-directed mutagenesis, recombination-mediated genetic engineering, plasmid preps and assistance with the implementation of real time quantitative PCR.
The Proteomics Center implements a chromatography-based proteomic approach known as multidimensional protein identification technology (MudPIT) combined to spectral counting for label free proteomics quantitation. We routinely analyze affinity-purified protein complexes or subcellular fractions, while more in-depth analyses can be undertaken to find post-translational modifications in proteins of interest or to derive large scale protein interaction networks.
Reptile & Aquatics
The Reptile & Aquatics Facility provides the institute’s research staff with the highest quality laboratory animal care and husbandry services for non-mammalian species. It currently works with snakes, lizards, zebrafish, planaria and sea anemones.
The Screening Facility provides cutting edge technologies and robotics to perform automated high-throughput screening of genomic and compound libraries. These platforms can be assayed using a multitude of endpoints including high-content imaging, fluorescence, time-resolve fluorescence, luminescence, absorbance and alphascreen.
The Cytometry Center is a state-of-the-art flow cytometry laboratory that provides Stowers investigators with a resource for analytical and preparative studies of cells using flow cytometry. The cytometry facility staff provides a full range of services including routine sample processing, cell staining, data analysis and strategic planning for novel assays and custom cell sorting applications. Collaborative projects encompass a broad scope of research topics and often result from a group effort among several of the institute’s core facilities.
Avanti J-20 XPI – Beckman Coulter
CyAn ADP – Beckman Coulter
Quanta MPL – Beckman Coulter
MACSQuant – Miltenyi Biotec
Hemavet HV 1700 – Drew Scientific
Scepter – Millipore
High Speed Cell Sorters
Influx – BD Biosciences
MoFlo Legacy – Beckman Coulter
Axioskop 2 Plus – Carl Zeiss Inc.
Eclipse TS100 - Nikon
Celigo Scanning Cytometer
CoPas Plus – Union Biometrica
In addition to the equipment listed above, the facility is equipped with a laminar flow biosafety cabinet, refrigeration/freezer, cell culture incubator, centrifugation, multi-channel pipettes and other common supplies and equipment. Furthermore, three Macintosh iMac core2duo Workstations and one core2duo Dell T3400 are available for data analysis.
The Electron Microscopy core is a resource center for scanning and transmission electron microscopy providing investigators with consultation, service, and training. If ultra-thin sectioning and electron microscopy are needed, the staff can process the samples either by routine chemical fixation or high-pressure freezing and freeze-substitution methods and provide stained grids for subsequent imaging. The facility also offers negative-staining, immune-electron microscopy and assisted electron microscopy imaging. For SEM imaging, the core has a desktop unit that is very easy to operate for samples needing magnification under 10,000x.
Leica EM PACT – high pressure freezer
Leica AFS (freeze substitution) unit
Leica EM UC6 ultramicrotome (2)
Leica FC6 cryoattachment
Hitachi TM-1000 desktop SEM
FEI Tecnai G2 Spirit BioTWIN 120 kV TEM
PELCO BioWave® Laboratory Tissue Processing System
The Histology facility is a full-service in-house laboratory dedicated to providing the highest quality histology services. The facility provides paraffin microtomy, cryotomy, vibratome sectioning, plastic sectioning, and histochemical staining. It also offers a large repertoire of immunostaining protocols for adaptation to individual antibodies and sample types, in addition to providing staining for Ki-67, BrdU, GFP, and Cleaved Caspase-3. For researchers wanting to learn how to section or stain their own material, the facility can provide successful protocols and instruction on any of its common-use equipment.
VIP 5™ Automatic Tissue Processor
Leica 5030S Research Cryostat (2)
Microm 500 Cryostat
Microm 360 Automated Microtome (2)
Leica RM2255 Automated Microtome
Leica RM2165 Automated Microtome
Biogenex EZ-Retriever™ (microwave)
Leica CV5030 Automated Coverslipper
Leica AutoStainer XL (ST5010)
TBS Paraffin Embedding Center
The Imaging Center specializes in the development and application of innovative imaging tools useful in 3D live cell and embryo studies. Current areas of interest include: (1) multicolor cell labeling and multispectral imaging strategies for more accurate cell identification and cell tracking, (2) selective cell labeling and cell communication interrogation using photoactivatable fluorescent reporters and calcium indicators, (3) long-term, deep tissue embryo imaging using 2-photon non-descanned detection, (3) laser capture microdissection and gene expression analyis. The Imaging group uses the microscopy equipment provided within the Microscopy Center.
Laboratory Animal Services
The Laboratory Animal Services (LAS) facility provides the institute’s research staff with the highest quality laboratory animal care and support services using state-of-the-art equipment, advanced technology, and a progressive staff in a premier animal facility.
The management of the LAS facility ensures all housing, husbandry practices, and veterinary care for the animals are in compliance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, Animal Welfare Act and its amendments, and the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, as well as all other institutional, state, and local regulations.
The facility is designed to maintain animal projects under rigorous barrier conditions, and every effort is made to limit the introduction of undesirable pathogens, which may impact the integrity and reproducibility of the research data. High standards of animal health and welfare are maintained and regularly monitored and examined by federal agencies and local ethics committees.
The LAS Facility uses the following equipment in its work:
2 x Steris Finn Aqua® Double Door Sterilizers
Steris Basil® 6000 Tunnel Washer
Steris Basil® 9500 Rack Washer
Edstrom Reverse Osmosis System
Steris and Bioquell VHP Machine
Steris Detach® Robotics
Steris Detach® Bedding Dispenser and Disposal System
Omnilock Access Control System
Techniplast Series 900WP Rack Washer
Steris Amsco® Century® V-160H Prevac Steam Sterilzer
ViraTek LE2828 Chlorine Dioxide Misting Tunnel
Media Preparation & Tissue Culture
The Media Preparation Facility serves to reduce the time and labor researchers must spend preparing reagents and growth media necessary for their various projects. Commonly used reagents such as Tris buffers and Luria broth are kept in stock to be used as needed by institute researchers. The facility prepares media used in larger volumes, such as for tissue culture and a variety of media plates poured to order.
The Media Preparation Facility uses the following equipment in its work:
Automated plate pourer for large plate orders
Level II Biosafety cabinet for tissue culture media preparation
The Tissue Culture Core Laboratory comprises a group of experienced cell culture specialists who are dedicated to support the research staff in their tissue culture needs. The Facility provides mycoplasma testing, cell banking, transfection services (stable cell line production) and large-scale cell expansion for Stowers researchers. Cell lines include insect, mammalian, and embryonic stem cells. Cells can be provided in single dishes or grown to large-scale in roller bottles, shaker flasks, or spinner flasks according to research needs. Personal cell lines can be deposited to the core with the proper testing and IBC approval. Training for new students or post-docs is available upon request.
The Tissue Culture Core Laboratory uses the following equipment in its work:
Level II Biosafety cabinet (6)
Beckman Coulter Vi-Cell XR
Sanyo MCO-20A/C incubators (8)
Bellco Roller Bottle incubators (3)
Leica DMIL microscopes (2)
Lecia DMIL LED microscope
Beckman Allegra 6R centrifuge
Beckman Allegra X-15R centrifuge
Labnet Multigene thermocycler
Innova 2100 and 2300 shaking platforms (8)
Bellco Magnetic Stirrers (16)
Powers Scientific refrigerated incubator
Precision refrigerated incubators (2)
The Stowers Microscopy Center strives to enable every scientific member of the Stowers Institute to get the best light microscope images technically possible. Its staff of physicists, software specialists, chemists, and biologists trains users on the state-of-the-art equipment and assists with the set up optical experiments, the selection of the best microscope equipment for a given task and conducts microscopy experiments. In addition to supporting several image processing software packages, specialists are available to program custom solutions. The center also actively explores and develops new technologies.
Several wide-field microscopes with sensitive cameras and data-acquisition software
Several confocal microscopes with spectral detection capability
A fast line-scanning confocal for live imaging, fluorescence recovery after photo-bleaching (FRAP) and photo-activation experiments
Several two-photon microscopes with non-descanned detection
Structured illumination for 3D imaging
Total internal reflection microscopy (TIRF)
Fluorescence life-time imaging (FLIM)
Second-harmonics generation (SHG)
Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and related methods
Image correlation methods
Technology for high-content screening
Photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) with an optical resolution well below 100nm
Commercial and open source image processing and quantification packages
Software for 3D rendering and quantification
Cluster based image processing
Several programming environments to develop custom software solutions
The Molecular Biology Facility supports investigators in their research endeavors by providing high quality services, collaborative project potential and access to state of the art technology. Current routine services include DNA sequencing, site-directed mutagenesis, recombination-mediated genetic engineering, plasmid preparations and distributing clones/vectors from our in house collections. We also support real time quantitative PCR through instrument training, troubleshooting and experimental design.
Stowers researchers also have access to the latest next-generation sequencing and microarray technologies within our facility. We have an Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx platform and can assist with high-throughput genome-sequencing, RNA-seq and ChIP-seq projects. We currently support commercially available Affymetrix and Agilent microarray platforms. Common microarray experiments include ChIP- chip, array CGH, and expression applications.
We utilize liquid handling and colony manipulation robots to automate many of our services and improve quality. In addition, we provide automation expertise and collaborate with researchers on custom automation projects. Examples of collaborative automation projects include large-scale yeast synthetic lethal screens and generation of a histone alanine-scanning library.
ABI 3730 DNA Analyzers (2)
Biomek® FX Liquid Handling Robots (2)
Tecan Freedom EVO Liquid Handling Robot
Qpix2 Colony Picking Robot
Singer RoTor HDA robot
Hydra II Microdispenser
CAS 4200 PCR Setup Robot
QIAgility PCR Setup Robot
ABI 7500 Real Time System
ABI 7900HT Real Time System
Maxwell 16 Instrument for nucleic acid and protein purification
Caliper Labchip 90 System
Affymetrix GeneChip® Scanner 3000
Affymetrix GeneChip Fluidics Station 450
Agilent Array Scanner
Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx and Cluster Station
Spectramax M2e Microplate reader
Matrical Bioscience SonicMan Plate Sonicator
MJ Research Tetrad® Thermocyclers (4)
The Proteomics Center implements a chromatography-based proteomic approach known as multidimensional protein identification technology (MudPIT). MudPIT is largely unbiased and extremely sensitive and allows for the detection and identification of low abundance proteins, as well as many different post-translational modifications. We use spectral counting as an effective label free proteomics quantitation tool and can apply statistical ways to compare proteomics datasets.
Typical collaborations include analyzing protein mixtures to comprehensively determine members of multiprotein complexes or to identify proteins localized to specific subcellular compartments. More in-depth analyses can be undertaken to find post-translational modifications in proteins of interest or derive probabilities of protein interactions within protein complexes when analyzing affinity purifications by MudPIT.
The Proteomics Center team consists of masters- and doctoral-level scientists with backgrounds ranging from biochemistry to physics. We rely on the Information Technology team for cluster maintenance and large-capacity data storage.
For more details on ongoing projects please visit the website of the Proteomics Center.
- LTQ Linear Ion Trap Mass Spectrometers (ThermoScientific)
- LTQ-Orbitrap Hybrid Mass Spectrometers (ThermoScientific)
- Velos-Orbitrap Hybrid Mass Spectrometers (ThermoScientific)
- All mass spectrometers equipped with custom-made nanospray ionization sources interfaced with Agilent 1100 Quartenary HPLC pumps or Eksigent NanoLC 2D systems
- 252-node Beowulf Linux cluster with two master nodes dedicated to SEQUEST proteomics analysis
Reptile & Aquatics
The Reptile & Aquatics Facility provides the institute’s research staff with the highest quality laboratory animal care and support services for non-mammalian species. Specialized husbandry is provided for a wide variety of animal species.
Species currently housed include:
Whiptail lizards (Aspidoscelis spp.)
African House Snakes (Lamprophis fuliginosus)
Veiled Chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus)
Zebrafish (Danio rerio)
Starlet Sea Anemone (Nematostella vectensis)
Planaria (Schmidtea, Dugesia, Phagocata, Procotyla)
A knowledgeable, specially trained staff of dedicated technicians caters to the needs of the researchers. The Facility is fully AAALAC accredited and all housing, husbandry practices and veterinary care for the animals are in compliance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, the Animal Welfare Act, the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, as well as all other institutional, state, and local regulations.
Staff offer a variety of technical services based on researcher needs including breeding, embryo harvest, tissue sampling, genotyping, histology preparation and identification services.
The Reptile & Aquatics Facility uses the following equipment in its work:
- Aquatic Habitats Zebra Fish Multi-rack System Housing with YSI 5200 and TGP Monitoring
- Animal Plastics Rack Housing
The Screening Facility is a state-of-the-art laboratory that performs high-throughput screening of genomic (cDNA and siRNA) and compound libraries. The facility assists investigators with the development of assays based on current as well as novel technologies and the design of biologically relevant primary, secondary and counter-screens. A multitude of assay endpoints are supported including: high-content imaging, fluorescence intensity, fluorescence polarization, time-resolve fluorescence, luminescence, alphascreen and absorbance. Potential screening assays are first miniaturized and automated prior to testing their integrity on small test collections. Full library screens are executed using ready-made genomic screening collection sets or by adding a single compound dose followed by data analysis and hit identification. Finally, validation and counterscreens are performed to determine the rank order hit list.
The Screening Facility utilizes the following equipment for assay development and execution of high-throughput genomic and compounds screens:
- Tecan Evo 200 liquid handling workstation integrated with a Tecan Infinity plate reader and Biotek EL406 plate washer and dispenser
- PerkinElmer Operetta high content imager with environmental chamber integrated with a robotic arm to transfer plates from a Liconic 200 plate ambient carousel
- IDEX Nanodrop II low volume liquid dispenser
- Biotek Multiflo liquid dispenser with peristaltic pump and syringe injection systems
- PerkinElmer Envision multimodal plate reader
- Hudson Platecrane Ex integrated with a Hudson automated barcode printer, plate carousel and Alps 3000 heat sealer
- Matrix Platemate Plus automated pipetting workstation with 384 AD, 96 AD and 384 syringe PD nanoliter dispensing heads
The Computational Biology Core at the Stowers Institute assists investigators with the analysis of biological data. The group combines software development and technical skills with biological insights to help find answers in complex and massive data-sets. The bioinformatics experts in the core primarily work with high-throughput sequence data, ChIP data, and other expression-based datasets. In addition, they provide general statistical and numerical analysis as well as support for scientific software and databases.
The Computational Biology group uses a variety of software packages, both open-source and commercial. Below is a small sampling of the tools currently being used to process NGS data:
- Bowtie, Cufflinks, and Tophat are used for basic alignment and analysis.
- Trinity and Trans-ABySS are used for assembly of model organisms.
- R is used heavily for statistical analysis of our datasets.
- Matlab is used for statistical analysis.
Over the years, members of the Computational Biology group have developed a number of tools in-house that are useful to other researchers.
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