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The VCU Cancer Mouse Models Core Laboratory

(updated June 2019)

The VCU Cancer Mouse Models Core Laboratory (CMMCL) facilitates in vivo translational research by providing assistance with mouse models of cancer and in vivo drug testing as well as pathology services. Directed by Jennifer Koblinski, PhD, the core employs the core additionally employs a full time lab manager and 2.25 FTE experienced in designing and performing experiments using syngeneic, xenograft [including patient-derived xenograft (PDX)], and genetically engineered mouse models of primary and metastatic cancer. CMMCL staff members provide experiment consultation and train researchers in specific animal procedures. Additionally, the CMMCL provides histology services including H&E staining, IHC, ISH and OPAL staining. We have an Akoya Biosciences, Vectra Polaris and Infrom software, which allows for automated quantitative pathology imaging. The facility is equipped with: a cell culture and preparation room that includes a BSL2 cell culture hood, Zeiss Axio Zoom V16 fluorescence dissection microscope, and BioRad TC20 automatic desktop cell counter; a KOPF 963SD Neurostar Motorized Ultra Precise Small Animal Stereotaxic Instrument for precise delivery of drug or tumor cells; an IVIS Spectrum preclinical in vivo imaging system; Coloview for endoscopy of small animals; Hemavet for Complete Blood Count, and data management and analysis tools that include StudyLog Desktop software, Living Image 4.5.1 software, ImageJ software, and access to the MCC shared research drive. The CMMCL is located on the first floor of the Massey Cancer Center Goodwin Research Laboratories in rooms MCC 1-112 (histology) and MCC 1-108 (mouse models). The facility is supported, in part, by funding from the NIH-NCI Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA 016059.

VCU Center for High Performance Computing

(updated January 2020)

The VCU Center for High Performance Computing (CHiPC; Director Rodney Dyer, Ph.D.) occupies approximately 2000 sq ft of total space, predominantly on the third floor of Harris Hall on the Monroe Park Campus. The mission of the CHiPC is to provide high performance computing services for the VCU research community. To accomplish this goal, the CHiPC maintains four major supercomputing clusters, each specialized for different computing environments. They may be summarized as follows

1) teal.vcu.edu is the primary cluster intended for large scale parallel computing, and is especially well suited for applications such molecular dynamics simulations, quantum chemistry and other Physical Sciences jobs. Teal consists of ~5104 64 bit Intel and AMD compute cores, each with 2-4 GB RAM/core, 10.2 TB of total RAM, 180 TB of /home space, and tmp space of between 360 and 787 GB per node and includes several GPU nodes along with a high speed network infrastructure is provided by a 20 Gb/second Infiniband architecture

2) bach.vcu.edu is the cluster designated for serial and small parallel applications. Bach consists of a total of 920 AMD 64 bit cores, each with a minimum of 2 GB/core RAM, 2 TB total RAM, 12 TB of /home space, and /tmp space of 360 GB per node. Networking infrastructure is gigabit ethernet

3) godel.vcu.edu is a cluster optimized for bioinformatics applications, with 1624 Intel and AMD 64 bit cores, each with at least 3 GB RAM/core, 4.8 TB of total RAM, 17 TB of /home space, tmp space of at least 180 GB/node, a GPU system and 40 Gb/second Infiniband networking, 1.2TB of GPFS high performance parallel file system storage.

4) fenn.vcu.edu is a cluster designed to support research using data that must comply with federal security and privacy requirements It consists of 1016 Intel 64 bit cores, 2/GB of RAM/core, 900 TB of GPFS high performance parallel file system storage (expandable to 2.2PB), and 54 Gb/second Infiniband networking. The Fenn system employs a security model that requires all access via VPN, and exists on a separate virtual and physical network from other university and CHiPC resources

To support this infrastructure, the CHiPC employs a Faculty director and 4 FTE positions (J. Mike Davis, Technical Director; Carlisle Childress & Brad Freeman, Systems Analysts; and John Layne, Applications Analyst. In addition to maintaining the hardware, the CHiPC works collaboratively with VCU Reserchers to maintain and optimize a large number of applications and development tools (BLAST, R, MATLAB, NAMD, Gaussian, Gromacs, Charm, C/C++, Fortran compilers) as well as other scientific, statistical and development software.

The VCU Chemical and Proteomic Mass Spectrometry Core Facility

(updated June 2019)

The Chemical and Proteomic Mass Spectrometry Core Facility is a VCU institutionally supported resource directed by Kristina Nelson, PhD. The core facility addresses the specific needs of individual investigators by offering a wide variety of services ranging from routine mass spectrometry analysis to interactive custom design of innovative analyses. The resource director closely follows the analyses performed by the facility, ensuring quality control and advising facility users on alternative, often novel, approaches to experimental design and data analysis. The shared resource maintains a stable base of instrumentation. Nonroutine mass measurement experiments, such as the analysis of polymer samples, are performed on a 5800 MALDI TOF-TOF instrument from AB Sciex. It has high mass accuracy and the ability to measure samples multiple times to increase the number of peptides identified in each experiment. Routine mass measurement experiments are handled by an Orbitrap Velos mass spectrometer from Thermo Electron Corporation, which is interfaced to a nanoAcuity UPLC from Waters Corporation, providing high mass accuracy and high sensitivity. Some proteomics experiments, such as those examining cross-linked or post-translationally modified peptides, are also best suited to the Orbitrap Velos. A state-of-the-art Waters Synapt G2Si mass spectrometer with ion mobility capability and M-Class UPLC front end is ideal for the relative quantification of unlabeled clinical samples and the analysis of highly complex proteomics samples. The ion mobility capabilities of this instrument can also be utilized to explore structural differences in isomeric compounds. Finally, the core provides data analysis, including database searching of the peptides detected by mass spectrometry, identification of proteins present in the samples, and mapping of the detected peptides within the protein. Verification of post-translational modifications is also provided. Data are shared with investigators using Scaffold software, which has been developed with a user interface allowing investigators to see where peptides are located within the protein, examine a list of proteins detected within the sample, look at fragmentation spectra and scoring values for each peptide, and even compare proteins and peptides across a number of samples.

The VCU Flow Cytometry Core Laboratory

(updated June 2019)

"The VCU Massey Cancer Center Flow Cytometry Shared Resource was established in 1976, and has been constantly modernized since that time. It currently occupies over 1500 sq ft in the Kontos Medical Science Building and the Molecular Medicine Research Building, and provides a comprehensive instrumentation suite and technical services in support of both cell sorting and analysis on a fee-for-service basis. The core currently features seven primary instruments. Cell sorting is conducted using the 5-laser BD FACSAria Fusion sorter as well as our two multi-laser BD Aria II sorters. One of the Aria units is enclosed in a Baker BioProtect Hood, enabling the sorting of human and biohazardous tissues. Sorting capabilities include up to 18 color simultaneous detection (including UV and violet laser capability) and up to 4 simultaneous sorts per instrument. The core supports three analyzers, a BD FACSCanto II, a BD LSRFortessa X-20, and an Amnis ImageStreamX MarkII. In addition to flow instrumentation, the core also maintains a Reichert surface plasmon resonance (SPR) instrument for determination of protein interaction constants. The director, Rebecca K. Martin, has over a decade of experience in flow cytometry. The laboratory manager and head technician, Julie Farnsworth, is highly trained in flow cytometry has been with the core for more than 15 years. The resource provides a wide range of services, including instrument training, routine fluorescence analysis, and development of innovative custom analysis and sorting protocols. Walk-up instrument time is also available to trained users. This core maintains a stable base of instrumentation, expertise, and trained personnel and currently provides services and training for multiple users in over 60 research groups from 21 departments at VCU. The VCU Massey Cancer Center Flow Cytometry Shared Resource is supported, in part, by funding from the NIH-NCI Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA016059."

The VCU Lipidomics and Metabolomics Core Laboratory

(updated June 2019)

The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Lipidomics & Metabolomics Core Laboratory (VLMC) provides highly sensitive and specific analyses of lipids and small-metabolites for investigators at VCU and Massey Cancer Center. The VLMC facilities enable the qualitative and quantitative investigation of the lipidome in both in vitro and in vivo studies involving cell lines, animal models, and/or human samples. This is accomplished using an advanced lipidomic instrumentation suite that is nationally competitive. Specifically, the VLMC maintains 3 advanced quadrupole linear iontrap (QTrap) mass spectrometers, each equipped with an ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) system. The core also utilizes a Thermoscientific Q Exactive HF OrbiTrap coupled to a UPLC for untargeted lipidomics and metabolomics with 240,000 resolution. This equipment enables highly sensitive and specific identification and/or quantification of changes to lipids in a high-throughput fashion and over a large dynamic range. Lipid classes analyzed include glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids, sterols, and others; custom analyses are available upon consultation. Untargeted analyses provide data from a database of over 8000 lipids and more than 20000 water-soluble metabolites. The resource is directed by L. Ashley Cowart, PhD, who is supported by the operational director, Jeremy Allegood, PhD, and an additional FTE. Drs. Allegood and Cowart provide consultative services for experimental design and data interpretation and assist with novel method development. The VLMC is a jointly managed (MCC and VCU) resource located in Sanger Hall and within close walking distance of MCC. Standard hours for the facility are 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. The usage of services and equipment is tracked and charged back. The VLMC adds significant value to VCU and MCC research by providing services that otherwise would not be practically obtainable or would be cost prohibitive through alternative vendors or even other non-profit institutions. Overall, the instrumentation and expertise available in the VLMC have facilitated the development of a growing user base of VCU faculty and MCC members, and investigators from other institutions whose research routinely garners peer-reviewed national funding and is published in high-impact scientific journals.

Major instrumentation in the core includes:
Sciex 4000 QTrap: Quadrupole Linear Ion Trap used primarily for high abundance lipids from tissue or cell samples (1 million or more cells). Utilized for sphingolipids and glycerophospholipids. LoQ for most lipids between 1-10 pmol. Sciex 5500 QTrap: Quadrupole Linear Ion Trap used for most of VLMC’s quantitative lipid methods. Allows for 100 fmol or lower LoQ for sphingolipids, eicosanoids, glycerophospholipids, steroids, and lysophospholipids. Allows of analysis of samples that range from lipid bound to protein pulldowns to cells/tissues/fluids.

Sciex 6500 QTrap: Quadrupole Linear Ion Trap used for VLMC’s quantitative lipid methods that require more sensitivity in negative mode or of higher m/z values. Beneficial for cardiolipins, sulfatides, ganglioside species, and some glycerophospholipids. Thermoscientific Q Exactive HF OrbiTrap: This is the VLMC’s newest instrument for lipidomics and metabolomics. The OrbiTrap allows identification and relative quantitation of over 8000 lipid species and more than 20000 water-soluble metabolites. Utilizing the OrbiTrap’s 240000 resolution allows significantly increased confidence in qualitative data.

VCU Microscopy Core Laboratory

(updated June 2019)

The VCU Microscopy Core Laboratory (Director Tytus Bernas, Ph.D.) is located in a 3000 sq ft facility spread over several rooms on the 9th floor of Sanger Hall. It is a fee-for-service core supported by the director and three FTEs that provides the instrumentation and expertise to facilitate a comprehensive spectrum of imaging methods and techniques. Instrumentation and services include:

1) Electron microscopy (TEM, SEM) is supported with a Jeol JEM-1400 TEM equipped with Gatan UltraScan 4000SP CCD camera and tilting motorized stage (montaging and 3D), and a Zeiss EVO 50 XVP SEM equipped with SE, VPSE & BSD detectors, extended variable pressure (up to 750 Pa), Deben coolstage, a water vapor introduction kit, and a Shuttle & Find stage adapter for correlative confocal / SEM imaging; 

2) Confocal laser scanning microscopy, supported by three systems: A Zeiss LSM 710 (inverted) equipped with a 32-channel spectral detector plus 2 side PMT detectors, a transmitted light detector, a Becker & Hickl Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging system with 2 hybrid GaAsP detectors (for FLIM / FCS), a motorized XY stage, a PeCon low profile stage incubator, Shuttle & Find stage adapter, and 5 lasers (pulsed 405 nm, multi-line Argon [458/488/514 nm], 561 nm green diode, 633 nm HeNe & a pulsed 440 nm. The system is set up for FRET, FRAP and FLIM analysis. The second system is a Zeiss LSM 700 (upright) equipped with 4 solid state lasers (405 nm, 488 nm, 555 nm, and 635 nm). The scan head has 2 confocal PMTs, a variable secondary dichroic beamsplitter and a transmitted light detector. The third system is a Zeiss LSM 880, inverted) equipped with spectral array detector (GaAsP), 2 single-channel PMT detectors, 32-element image scanning (Airy) detector (GaAsP), motorized piezo stage, hardware autofocus, stage incubator and 5 lasers (405 nm, multi-line Argon [458/488/514 nm], 561 nm green diode, 594 nm HeNe and 633 nm HeNe. The system is capable of high-resolution (image scanning), FCS and fast live-cell imaging. 

3) Multi-photon laser scanning microscopy, supported by a Zeiss LSM 510 META NLO (fixed stage upright) equipped with a Spectra-Physics Broadband (710-990 nm) MaiTai Ti:sapphire laser and 3 visible lasers (multi-line Argon, 561 DPSS, HeNe 633), 2 non-descanned detectors, 3 descanned detectors (including a META detector for spectral scanning) a transmitted light detector, and a variety of objective lenses (dry, oil, multi-immersion, water immersion). A Luigs & Neumann 380 FM workstation (with slice chamber & in vivo bridges) and physiology equipment (stimulators, VP timing unit, A/D converters, multiclamp amplifier, line heaters, peristaltic pump, pipette puller) are linked with the system to facilitate simultaneous imaging & physiological recording; 

4) Live cell confocal microscopy supported by a Zeiss Cell Observer SD spinning disc confocal microscope, equipped with a Yokogawa CSU-X1A spinning disc, 2 Photometrics Evolve 512 cameras, an Axiocam MRm camera, a high resolution piezo driven Z stage, 4 lasers (405 nm, 458/488/514 nm, 561 nm, 635 nm), DIC, phase contrast, FRAP/uncaging and a stage incubation system (to support live cell / live tissue imaging, with regulation for temperature, humidity, CO2 and O2); 
5) Total internal reflection (TIRF) microscopy, supported by an Olympus cellTIRF system equipped with 3 lasers (405 nm diode, 488 diode and 561 DPSS), AOTF, DIC, phase contrast, Andor iXon DU-897E EMCCD camera, a laser-based automated focus drift compensation system and a stage incubator (temperature, humidity, CO2); The system is set up for super-resolution imaging (PALM/STORM localization microscopy). 

6) A Nikon N-SIM Structured Illumination Microscope. This system is equipped with 3 diffraction gratings, 4 lasers (405, 488, 561 & 640 nm), Andor iXon DU-897E EMCCD camera, a laser-based automated focus drift compensation system, motorized XY stage, a high resolution piezo-driven Z stage, motorized TIRF optics (with independent laser input), fluorescence optics, DIC, and a Tokai Hit stage incubator (to facilitate live cell imaging); The system is capable of super-resolution (SIM and localization), TIRF and combined SIM/TIRF imaging of live and fixed cells. 

7) seven wide-field fluorescence microscopes, including: an Olympus BX51 configured for computer-assisted stereology and equipped with a Prior Proscan XYZ motorized stage, an Olympus DP72 CCD camera, fluorescence optics (DAPI / GFP / DsRed / Cy5), DIC, phase contrast, Visiopharm newCAST software and Olympus cellSens software. The second system is a Zeiss AxioImager Z2 automated microscope configured for morphometric analysis and equipped with a Q-Imaging CCD camera and a Zeiss Axiocam MRm, fluorescence optics, (DAPI / CFP / GFP / DsRed / Cy5), DIC, motorized XY stage, and Microbrightfield Neurolucida & StereoInvestigator imaging / image analysis software. The third system is a Zeiss Axiovert 200 equipped with a Hamamastu ORCA ER CCD camera, Colibri LED illumination unit (blue, green, red), fluorescence filter sets (DAPI, GFP, DsRed), white light LED and a stage heater. The fourth system is a Zeiss Axioimager A1 equipped with fluorescence optics (DAPI, GFP, DsRed), and an Axiocam MRc CCD camera. The fifth system is a Zeiss AxioObserver A1 equipped with fluorescence optics (DAPI, GFP, DsRed), and an Axiocam MRc5 CCD camera. The sixth system is a Nikon ECLIPSE E800M with fluorescence optics (DAPI, GFP, DsRed, Cy5), and a Diagnostic Instruments Spot RT CCD camera. The seventh system is a Zeiss Axiovert 40 equipped with fluorescence optics (DAPI, GFP, DsRed), and an Axiocam MRc CCD camera. A Zeiss Discovery V20 Stereo zoom microscope with transmitted, reflection and fluorescence illumination, 0.63x, 1.25x and 1.5x lenses, filter sets for GFP, CFP, YFP and DsRed and an Axiocam MRc CCD camera is available for micro/macroscopic imaging; 

This equipment suite (supported by sputter coaters, ultramicrotomes, critical point dryers, etc.) allows the core to offer many types of imaging methods and services including: Sample preparation; Live-cell imaging; Immuno-localization (fluorescence, EM); Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP); Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS). The core also provides multi-dimensional image analysis (image cytometry), restoration (including deconvolution) and visualization. A cell culture facility (with incubators and biological safety cabinet) is located on-site to support live cell imaging. Training is available for all of the imaging modalities and methods offered.

VCU Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry

(updated June 2019)

The Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry (MATR; Scientific Director Judy Silberg; www.matr.vcu.edu) is located in the Office of Research and Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The MATR is a population-based registry of twin pairs ascertained from birth records and school system records of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The registry’s mission is to identify, trace, and recruit population based samples of twins and their families to participate in research undertaken by scientists at VCU and other institutions. The registry conducts and/or facilitates such research through collection of preliminary data and referral of eligible subjects to investigators while protecting the rights and privacy of study participants. The subjects have primarily been drawn from the more than 300,000 identical and fraternal twin pairs born in the three states between 1913 and 2017. Many of the twins and their family members have participated in numerous research projects. The MATR has a privacy policy and strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place to protect the confidentiality of participant data and the privacy of its participants. These SOPs address such issues as respect to participants, protection of privacy, confidentiality of data transmission etc. Employees sign an understanding that breach of these procedures is grounds for dismissal. Twins join the registry with an interest in learning more about genetic and health research opportunities and are therefore willing to consider providing samples requested for studies. The MATR can help conduct research in various ways, including arranging DNA collection (blood, bucal swab, or saliva), mailed or web surveys, telephone recruitment, or advertisements in the MATR newsletter distributed semi-annually to all registrants. The MATR also coordinates with researchers to ensure proof of human subjects protection review and other subject protections prior to initiation of any study.

VCU Nanomaterials Characterization Core Facility

(updated June 2019)

The VCU Nanomaterials Characterization Core Facility (Director Massimo Bertino, Ph.D.), The nanomaterials core (founded in 2010) provides a comprehensive instrumentation suite for VCU researchers interested in nanomaterials, or surface characterization. Instrumentation supported by the facility includes: A ThermoFisher ESCAlab 250 X-ray photoelectron spectrometer. The ESCALab is multitechnique platform for studying the surface of materials with XPS, Auger, UPS, and ISS techniques. The sample stage is an automated 5-axis stage for angle resolved XPS with heating and cooling from 77K to 600K. The system also has a High Pressure Gas Cell for introduction of reactive gases for absorption studies.

The facility also hosts three electron microscopes : a Hitachi SU-70 FE-SEM Scanning Electron Microscope, a Zeiss Auriga SEM/FIB, and a JEOL F200 Transmission electron microscope. The Hitachi SEM is a field emission unit which allows for a 1nm spatial resolution. The unit also is equipped with a STEM options, a Nabity Lithography System, dedicated backscatter detector, and Genesis EDAX system with low element windows for detection of Be to Pu. The JEOL F200 is a cold-cathode field emission high resolution transmission electron microscope equipped with an EDAX for elemental mapping with a resolution of 1 nm. The Zeiss Auriga is a dual beam focused ion beam scanning electron microscope. The instrument features with Octane Plus EDAX system with low element window and an EBSD detector.

The facility also houses a VEECO ICON atomic force microscope. The ICON features VEECO's latest technology providing AFM with less than a 35 pm signal to noise operating in tapping mode. The instrument is capable of operating in multiple modes including Contact Mode, Tapping Mode, Non-contact Mode, lateral force (LFM), magnetic force (MFM), surface potential, scanning capacitance (SCM), Tunneling (TUNA or STM), and conductive (CAFM). The instrument is equipped with a variable temperature stage and a wet cell sample holder.

The facility features a number of other instruments including Malvern-Panalytical X-ray diffractometer, LabRam HR Evolution Raman spectrometer from Horiba, Zeiss LSM-710 confocal microscope, SkyScan 1173 µ-CT scanner, Quantum Design DynaCool platform, Viscotek GPCMax, Rame-Hart Contact Angle, and PANalytical X-ray fluorescence spectrometer.

For sample preparation, the facility is equipped with sputter coaters, diamond cut-off saw, EcoMet 300 polishing station, VibroMet2 vibratory polisher, Tousimis Autosamdri-931 critical point dryer, Gatan reaction plasma etcher, and Boeckeler Cryo-Ultramicrotome.

Acquisition of instrumentation in the Nanomaterials Characterization Core Facility was funded, in part, by grants from the National Science Foundation.

VCU Structural Biology Core Laboratory

(updated June 2019)

"The VCU Structural Biology Core Laboratory is a VCU institutionally supported resource that is directed by Martin Safo, PhD. The core facilitates access to a comprehensive suite of instrumentation and computational resources in support of macromolecular structure determination. There are 3 main components to the core: X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and molecular modeling. The X-ray crystallography component is managed by Faik Musayev, PhD. Its resources include an X-ray diffractometer installed in Q1 2018 comprising a MicroMax-007HF generator, VariMax-HF Arc Optics, Hybrid Photon Counter, Eiger R 4M Detector, AFC11 Goniometer and Oxford Cobra Cryo-system, with capability for determining both small and macromolecule structures. The core has a crystallization robotics suite consisting of a Gryphon drop setter, a Minstrel/Gallery imaging and incubation system for crystallization trials, and an Alchemist liquid handling system. The NMR component is managed by Faik Musayev, PhD. The component operates a Bruker Avance III 700 MHz instrument suitable for 1D, 2D, 3D, or 4D homo- or hetero-nuclear experiments. The instrument features 3 RF channels with pulse field gradients, permitting the acquisition of data for triple or pseudoquadruple resonance experiments. The molecular modeling component is managed by Glen Kellogg, PhD. Molecular modeling is supported by a suite of 8-core ApplePro and HP linux multicore graphics workstations, supplemented with a Linux-cluster back-end with over 3,000 computer cores provided by the VCU CHiPC. Software supported by the molecular modeling includes the commercial Tripos Sybyl suite and a number of other packages including CCP4, GOLD, Dock, AutoDock, HINT, NAMD, and Hex. In addition to instrumentation, the core provides training and consultation, both through formal classes and one-on-one sessions with individual investigators.”

VCU Tissue and Data Analysis and Acquisition Core Laboratory

(updated June 2019)

The Tissue and Data Analysis and Acquisition Core Laboratory (TDAAC), established in 2002, is a Massey Cancer Center (MCC) and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) institutionally supported resource directed by Michael Idowu, MD, MPH and managed by Pamela Jill Grizzard, BS. TDAAC serves as a biorepository for VCU, MCC, and collaborating outside institutions by acquiring and banking human cancers and adjacent normal tissues, as well as hematological samples for use in their research. The overall objective of TDAAC is to support translational research at MCC by functioning as the primary fresh-frozen tissue acquisition and processing facility for human solid tissue and hematopoietic specimens. The broad, long-range objectives of TDAAC are to provide a gateway through which investigators involved in MCC investigator-initiated studies and clinical trials can acquire the human tissue samples required to support their research, ensuring the safeguard of sample acquisition for patient care, and to preserve the molecular integrity of the specimens. This is done through the aegis of the VCU IRB-approved “Tissue Acquisition System to Support Cancer Research” (TASSCR) protocol, which can supply specimens to a biorepository supporting cancer research through acquisition of residual tumor and normal tissue samples along with informed consent from patients. Samples can thus be provided under an anonymous honest broker system. In addition, TDAAC collects tissue, hematopoietic, and other researcher-specific samples that support investigator-initiated, IRB- approved research projects or clinical trials. All frozen tissue specimens banked in TDAAC have a corresponding formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded counterpart in the Department of Pathology archives. Patients who sign the TDAAC informed consent documentation agree to have their residual tissues and/or blood utilized for any research question, including genomic data and health information for translational research. In addition, TDAAC banks hematopoietic specimens by cryopreserving mononuclear cells for future assays that may require primary cell culture.

TDAAC collects and maintains associated demographic and pathological annotation in a secure SQL2000 database with an Access front-end. Treatment and survival data can be linked to TDAAC cases via longitudinal data collected by the Cancer Informatics Core (CIC) or Cancer Registry. The specimen acquisition process ensures that the primary purpose of the specimen for patient care is maintained and the quality of the specimen is optimal for biomedical research. These services are achieved through leveraging a network of interdepartmental and informatics relationships within VCU Health. TDAAC staff provide samples of extracted, quality controlled RNA from human tissues, frozen sections, and cryopreserved samples of viable hematopoietic neoplasias. The resource director and staff provide consultative services for experimental design, data interpretation, and education of users in the use of biospecimens.

TDAAC is housed within a 1,400 ft2 laboratory space located in VCU’s Sanger Hall. TDAAC uses Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) standards to operate and incorporates the best practice guidelines for biorepositories issued by the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories and the National Cancer Institute. TDAAC also has access to the 6,400 ft2 Molecular Diagnostics (MDx) CLIA’88-certified laboratory located in the VCU Department of Pathology The MDx laboratory performs clinical and research molecular testing with state-of-the-art instrumentation. Within the two laboratories, TDAAC has access to the following pieces of equipment for sample processing and banking: 2 Bioanalyzers (Agilent 2100); 2 automated nucleic acid extraction (MagMAX Express), 2 Applied Biosystems Thermocycler 2720, 2 NanoDrop8000 spectrophotometers; a Leica CM1850 Cryostat; 2 Thermo Scientific Revco PLUS Ultralow Temperature Freezers; 3 Thermo Scientific Locator 4 PLUS Cryobiological Storage Vessels; a Beckman, Z2 Coulter cell and particle counter, and a Microm HM-310 microtome. All temperature-sensitive equipment is monitored by a wireless, web-based system (Viewpoint: 24/7 monitoring system), and ultralow freezers have liquid nitrogen (LN2) backup systems that automatically releases LN2 into the freezer in case of temperature failure. TDAAC is supported, in part, by an NIH-NCI Cancer Center Support Grant (P30 CA016059) to MCC.

VCU Transgenic/Knockout Mouse Core Laboratory

(updated July 2019)

“The VCU Transgenic/Knockout Mouse Core laboratory (TG/KO), established in 2000, provides a comprehensive suite of services for the creation and maintenance of genetically engineered mice (GEMs), including production of standard transgenic mice, creation of global and conditional knockout and knock-in mice using CRISPR/Cas9 technology, mouse line rederivation by embryo transfer and in vitro fertilization, both sperm and embryo cryopreservation and cryorecovery, and colony management. The TG/KO facility includes 1,900 ft2 of restricted-access laboratory and animal holding space in the barrier vivarium in the Molecular Medicine Research Building, as well as general molecular biology laboratory space on the floor below. The facility is equipped with an Olympus IX-71 inverted injection scope with stage cooler, Eppendorf TransferMan 4r micromanipulators, Eppendorf Femtojet 4i microinjector, Olympus DP-72 Digital Camera, Nikon SMZ dual head teaching scope, Nikon SMZ-645 microscope, Sutter P-87 pipette puller, DeFonbrune microforge, Planar Cryo 10 controlled rate freezer, K-MINC mini-incubator, Nikon Eclipse TS100 inverted scope, and NepaGene NEPA21 electroporator. The core also maintains an IVIS spectrum imager for live animal imaging. The core is directed by Dr. Jolene Windle, who has been actively involved in developing GEMs since 1986. She is supported by Resource Manager Greg Campbell, who is responsible for all aspects of GEM production, Laboratory Specialist Pamela Watters, who is responsible for colony management, and Dr. Mark Subler, who is responsible for all molecular biology related to project design and mouse characterization. The TG/KO is supported, in part, by funding from the NIH-NCI Cancer Center Support Grant (P30 CA016059)”