The overall research environment at UNC-Chapel Hill is superb. Numerous sophisticated core laboratory facilities are easily accessible and function very well, usually on a fee-for-service basis. Many of the facilities listed below are run by full-time Ph.D.-level individuals.
Useful Cores for Pharmacology Research
Cores of the UNC Center for Structural Biology
The UNC Center for Structural Biology provides an integrated platform of expertise, infrastructure and education to foster a wider use of structural biology by the UNC community. The CSB combines 4 core facilities and their expertise to make structural biology available as a general tool to any researcher.
The UNC Biomolecular X-ray Crystallography Facility provides resources and training for single crystal diffraction pattern data collection and processing; the center will also assist UNC researchers not trained in X-ray crystallography in carrying out crystallographic analyses of their biological molecules, including screening for crystallization conditions with a high-throughput, 96-well, robotic crystallization workstation.
The UNC Biomolecular NMR Laboratory has 600 MHz and 500 MHz NMR spectrometers available, with skilled assistance in operation and data interpretation.
The R. L. Juliano Structural Bioinformatics Core Facility, located within the Department of Pharmacology, provides Ph.D.-staffed, state-of-the-art facilities for structural analysis and modeling of macromolecules. The campus-wide UNC Center for Bioinformatics supports the use of computational tools for molecular biology, genetics, protein chemistry, and biochemistry research, and offers in-depth workshops on DNA, RNA, and protein sequence analysis, database searching, and genome-wide predictions.
The Protein Expression and Purification Core, located within the Department of Pharmacology, specializes in the production of pure, functional proteins for structural, biophysical, and biochemical studies. It is specifically designed as a “front-end” interface to other components of the Center for Structural Biology. In addition, the services of this core are also applicable to other research areas, including antibody and antigen production and the manufacture of protein chips.
Protein Synthesis/Sequencing. The UNC Microprotein Sequencing & Peptide Synthesis Facility is located in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and provides rapid peptide synthesis and state-of-the-art protein sequencing.
Macromolecular Interactions Facility.This facility provides instrumentation sed in the characterization and quantitation of interactions among proteins, DNA, and their cognate ligands. Equipment includes an analytical ultracentrifuge, a BIAcore 2000 surface plasmon resonance biosensor, an Aminco SLM 8100 steady state fluorescence spectrophotometer, and a Jasco J-600 circular dichroism spectrometer. There is a full-time Ph.D. scientist at the facility to train users and assist in experimental design.
Other UNC Core Facilities
The new RNAi Screening Facility (HTS), located in the Department of Pharmacology, 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. RNAi mediated inhibition of gene expression is a powerful method for identifying genes and their cognate phenotype, whose loss of expression alters the cell phenotype. The RNAi HTS Facility manages a human genomic siRNA library from Dharmacon.
Oligonucleotide Synthesis Cores. There are two excellent core facilities on campus that provide synthesis of both standard and chemically-modified oligonucleotides. One is the UNC Pathology Department Oligo Core Facility and the other is the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Nucleic Acids Core Facility.
DNA Sequencing Core. The UNC-CH Genome Analysis Facility provides researchers at UNC-CH with access to state-of-the-art resources for DNA sequencing. Additional services have recently been added including microsatellite fragment analysis and SNP analysis.
Tissue Culture Facility. A core of the adjoining UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, this facility provides a variety of services including frozen cell storage, a cell line repository, assistance in mycoplasma detection, and local purchase of serum, media, restriction enzymes, and other molecular biology reagents.
Flow Cytometry Core. Sophisticated analysis and cell sorting performed by an expert technician using state-of-the-art cytometers is available, as well as more routine analysis on self-use machines.
The UNC Vector Core is a full-service viral vector production organization with extensive experience in vector design, process development, as well as manufacturing of research and clinical grade vectors.
Digital Video Microscopy Cores. Two campus facilities provide access and user advice for confocal and conventional digitized imaging systems: Hooker Imaging Core and Microscopy Services Laboratory. The latter core also offers electron microscopy and laser capture microdissection services.
Michael Hooker Proteomics Core Facility. This UNC core laboratory provides state-of-the-art mass spectrometry analyses to identify proteins and assist in characterizing protein modification and differential expression.
Mouse Core Facilities. The UNC Animal Models Core provides advice and technical support for the generation of transgenic and recombinant mice. Particular emphasis is placed on microinjection of vectors and establishment of the resultant transgenic embryos. This core also provides advice and technical support for gene "knockout" studies. Special emphasis is placed on the design of vectors for efficient homologous recombination, on blastocyst implantation, and on handling of animals for germ line transmission and successful breeding. The Animal Clinical Chemistry and Gene Expression Laboratories offers support in performing blood chemistry, urinalysis, hematology, genotyping, and real-time PCR gene express ion studies in support of mouse model work.
The Animal Histopathology Core Facility, run by a board-certified veterinary pathologist, offers high-quality preparation and processing of frozen and fixed tissue sections, along with education regarding appropriate harvesting, fixation, and selection of histological procedures/stains.