Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116
R.I. Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network
central laboratory fact sheet
14 instruments/facilities to aid research on cancer,
drug metabolism, effects of toxins, and
identification of natural products
Among some of the major instruments of the 14 available to the 46 scientists in the Rhode Island Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network in the Centralized Research Core Facility are:
1. SGI molecular modeling workstation and Accelyrs Insight II software allow scientists to build and simulate dynamic models of complicated molecules and display them on a large screen. This technology helps scientists see how a drug molecule interacts with large molecules, such as enzymes and DNA. As an example, a water molecule contains three atoms, while scientists will be looking at molecules with several thousand atoms. The technology also allows researchers to manipulate the models, so they mimic what happens in the human body.
2. Becton Dickinson FACSCalibur Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter, used to sort and measure the relative size, granularity and fluorescence of cell populations. Also called a flow-cytometer, the unit allows scientists to study the cell cycle and cell death. The sorter allows researchers to differentiate cells in stages of dying or living (the cell cycle), which both relate to cancer. Cancer cells never get the signal to die. Such equipment can assist research in mechanisms of disease, drug development and the effects of toxins. The instrument allows scientists to monitor cell division through each step using fluorescent dyes.
3. The cell culture facility, which is for participating schools that do not have the resources to purchase such equipment and for URI scientists who do not have them in their own labs. The facility is equipped with a biological safety cabinet, micro- and ultracentrifuges, an inverted microscope and sterile supplies.
4. Mariner ESI-TOF Mass Spectrometer, used to identify small and large molecules by weight. The spectrometer, combined with a liquid chromatograph, allows scientists to analyze the components of human tissue or a human tumor and compare those components with national databases. Such analysis of unidentified molecules can indicate why diseases occur. This equipment allows scientists to develop biotechnology products that can treat diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
5. Amersham Biosciences Typhoon Variable Mode Imager, which provides images of separated proteins and DNA, those from normal tissue and those from diseased tissues. The unit can be used to create images relating to cancer metabolism and to research inhibitors that could prevent reactions that can lead to cancer.