Murine Neurobehavior LaboratoryThe past decade has seen the definition of large families and super-families of neuronal genes whose related but different sequences provide great opportunity for developing novel therapeutics if we can understand their functions and exploit their diversity. There can be no doubt that a major challenge still facing modern neurobiology is the understanding of gene function.
The Murine Neurobehavioral Laboratory (MNL) is designed to assist investigators with an overview of general and specific behavioral paradigms appropriate for analyzing mouse phenotypes. The MNL utilizes state-of-the-art behavioral testing equipment from Stoelting Industries and the ANY-maze system. ANY-maze is a flexible video tracking system designed to automate testing in numerous behavioral experiments and allows for off-site data analysis.
The MNL is especially well-suited for the characterization of newly generated genetically altered mouse models, pre-clinical drug evaluation and identifying genotype-phenotype interactions. The MNL is directed by an established NIH-funded researcher with numerous publications utilizing behavioral techniques and who is available to facilitate with experimental design, data interpretation and training.
The Facility is equipped with 25 different tests designed to quanitate specific animal behavior related to:
- Learning and Memory
- Social Interaction
- Motor Coordination
- Sensory Perception
- Physical Ability
Cellular Electrophysiology LaboratoryThe USH Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute has established the Cellular Electrophysiology Laboratory (CEL) as an open access electrophysiology core to provide a commonly shared and centrally maintained and managed experimental laboratory facility. The CEL is designed to support the USF research community interested in using state-of-the-art electrophysiology techniques to investigate all tissues and cells that exhibit electrical properties. As a complete core facility, the CEL has support personnel to facilitate experimental design, data analysis, and data reporting for publications and extramural grant applications. Student training and fee-for-service is also available.
Major systems available to the Alzheimer's Institute research community include:
- Optical Mapping System - uses ultra-high-speed camera to detect electrical changes occurring within a millisecond in cells and tissue. Using Fluorescent imaging techniques, this system has the capacity to capture images of action potentials, cellular ion changes and overall mapping of the communication pathways throughout the brain.
- Patch Clamp System - uses very small recording electrodes to measure the membrane properties of a single cell. This system can record voltage and current changes in neurons and is also equipped to take fluorescent images of cells using a high resolution camera.
- Single-Channel Extracellular Recording Systems - using a single recording chamber to recreate the natural environment of the brain. This system is equipped with a real-time camera for training purposes.
- Quad-Channel Extracellular Recording System - is similar to the single-channel system; however, the quad-channel can record differences in electrical signals from up to 4 brain slices simultaneously. This high-throughput systems allows for more efficient drug discovery, faster results and reduced man hours compared to the single-channel system.
It is well-established that significant anatomical and biochemical differences exist between typical (non-diseased) brains and brains of Alzheimer's patients and animal models of the disease. The Institute has developed a state-of-the-art digital pathology facility outfitted with an integrated Zeiss Mirax Scanner System capable of automated scanning in batch mode of up to 300 samples, offering high resolution flat panel display and remote access to digital data.
We are fortunate to have Dr Peter Mouton, Professor of Stereology in the department of Pathology and Cell Biology and Director of the Stereology Resource Center resident in the Institute and available for consultation. Stereological techniques allow for methodologically unbiased quantitative analysis of morphological parameters including but not limited to: number, volume, length, surface area, variation and spatial distribution in complex three-dimensional structures.
Also available are necessary support equipment for tissue processing including cryostat, mounting/staining station and a variety of disection and light miscroscopes.
Vector Production Laboratory
Gene Therapy has made important medical advances in less than two decades. Within this short time span, it has moved from the conceptual stage to technology development and laboratory research to clinical translational trials for a variety of diseases. Recombinant viral vectors have become the major avenue for gene transfer in current gene therapy applications.
The Vector Production Laboratory occupies approximately 400 square feet of certified BSL-II space within the Institute. It is managed by doctoral-level personnel with expertise in design, production and application of viral vectors in general and Adeno-associated virus in particular. The laboratory is equipped with all necessary instruments to engineer, grow and purify viral particles suitable for use in gene therapy approaches.