Research Resources

Core Research Facilities Dichter_fMRI.bmp

The University of North Carolina has made a major effort to make easily available the essential core research technologies required by our students and faculty.  These facility managers are a critical resource and they routinely participate in teaching and training students and fellows in the technology, attend appropriate scientific meetings and are often involved in collaborative research with faculty. Click here for UNC Core Research Facilities website.

Listed below are a number of the long-standing successful core facilities that enrich the research environment of our neurobiology scholars:

Neuroscience Center Research Cores directed by Dr. William Snider, were established to enable UNC neuroscientists to generate mouse genetic models for studies of neurological disease mechanisms, perform state of the art imaging and bioinformatics analysis on these models, and finally to develop assays that can be used to advance new treatments for neurological diseases. These facilities were established with support from a NINDS Center grant ten years ago, which has been successfully renewed twice.

There are four Cores housed on Floors 7 and 8 of the Neuroscience Research Building:

Core 1. Molecular Neuroscience Core generates floxed alleles, BAC transgenics, AAV tools for animal models work, characterize targeted ES cells, and prepare libraries for massively parallel next generation sequencing. The Molecular Neuroscience Core is a turnkey operation: the investigator states the gene to be mutated, receives a construct, and ultimately characterized ES cells that can be used for blastocyst injections.

Core 2. Confocal and Multiphoton Imaging Core provides training and support for advanced imaging methodologies for analysis of the disease models and has state of the art Zeiss and Olympus Imaging systems for confocal, time-lapse confocal, and multiphoton analysis of living and fixed tissue preparations.

Core 3. Bioinformatics Core provides access to Bioinformatics, which is rapidly emerging as a critical need for NINDS-funded and other UNC neuroscientists. The Bioinformatics Core provides state of the art pathway analysis, analysis of transcriptional mechanisms (ChIP-seq, RNA-seq), and epigenetic analysis. Bioinformatics will enable neuroscientists to interrogate mechanisms in disease models and determine global consequences of manipulating signaling components.

Core 4. Translational Neuroscience Core provides medicinal chemistry consultation, implementation and initial screening in support of cell free and cell based assay development for developing new neurological disease treatments.

Animal Models Facility assists investigators in creating both transgenic and “knock-out” mice and is part of the UNC Mutant Mouse Resource, funded by an NIH Regional Resource Grant and closely affiliated with Jackson Laboratories.

Small Animal Imaging Facility, Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC) provides MRI/MRS, PET/CT/SPECT, Optical/Bioluminescence, and Ultrasound imaging of mouse models. It houses one of the few Bruker 9.4T horizontal bore scanners in the east coast dedicated for small animal studies. The higher sensitivity resulting in greater spatial and/or temporal resolution from the 9.4T magnet enables high resolution in vivo animal imaging.

High Throughput Sequencing Facility houses deep sequencing technology allows performing applications like de novo genome sequencing, genomes re-sequencing, chip-seq, cDNA sequencing, digital expression and microRNA. HTSF gives UNC researchers an access to this edge-cutting technology by delivering to them about 200 million sequences of 36 nucleotides per week.

Mouse Behavioral Phenotyping Laboratory provides investigators with a wide variety of mouse behavioral tasks to analyze targeted gene mutations relevant to basic research and models of human diseases, inbred strains, pharmacological treatments, gene therapies, etc.

Vector Core was created to ensure that investigators would have promising gene vectors available in the quality and quantities needed for preclinical studies.  Research in the laboratory has centered on the molecular biology of adeno-associated virus (AAV) in order to exploit the unique features of this virus to develop an efficient viral vector system for use in human gene therapy.

UNC RNAi Screening Facility manages a human genomic siRNA library from Dharmacon.  The library is composed of ~84,500 siRNAs targeting 21,125 genes (Ref Seq database v5.0-8.0) and this facility provides the technology for the UNC scientific community to perform cell based screens to define the contribution of each gene in the human genome to specific phenotypes.

Oligonucleotide Synthesis Core Facility produces and purifies oligonucleotides for use in genetic research experiments, such as PCR, DNA sequencing, primer extension, and as hybridization probes.

Flow Cytometry Facility exists to provide biomedical investigators with all aspects of research flow cytometry -- analytical and high speed sorting instrumentation, data analysis, and expertise.

Biomolecular X-ray Crystallography Facility provides resources and training to UNC macromolecular crystallographers for single crystal data collection and processing.

Macromolecular Interactions Facility provides instrumentation and resources for biophysical characterization of interactions of biological macromolecules. The capabilities include measurement of affinity, stoichiometry, kinetics and thermodynamics of interactions among proteins, DNA and their cognate ligands.

Mouse Histopathology Facility provides histopathology analysis—high-quality processing of fixed tissues into hematoxylin and eosin-stained paraffin slides as well as preparation of frozen tissue sections -- for investigators studying various mouse mutants and genetic models.

Mammalian Genotyping Core assists researchers in elucidating genetic components of complex diseases.  Two genotyping platforms offer flexibility to type a wide range of SNPs, from 1 to 1,000 at a time.  The two platforms are the ABI TaqMan SNP genotyping for single-plex SNP genotyping and the Illumina BeadArray for multi-plex SNP genotyping.

Michael Hooker Proteomics & Mass Spectrometry Facility provides UNC with a state-of-the-art facility to identify proteins and to assist in the characterization of protein modification and differential expression. The core serves the greater university community by providing a resource for training, education, and consultation in modern proteomic techniques.

Michael Hooker Microscopy Facility provides users access to advanced light microscopy, digital image acquisition and image processing capabilities.  Users receive thorough instruction on how to setup and use the required instrumentation with emphasis targeted to the specific requirements of their experiment.

Zebrafish Facility provides resources for UNC investigators to use zebrafish as a model organism.  Services offered include stock maintenance, quarantine facility, embryo production, microinjections (morpholino and mis-expression), transgenesis and phenotypic evaluation.