Research Cores

Approximately 60 core facilities and research centers on the University of Iowa campus are supported through the College of Medicine, the office of the Vice President for Research and/or by other center grants (e.g., DERC), program projects and RO1s awarded to this university. These services and facilities enhance the overall research capabilities of the research community immeasurably, by providing access to shared equipment as well as to the expertise required to use them efficiently and effectively. Following is a partial list of the available core facilities that are most pertinent to theme of this proposal. A more comprehensive list of core facilities and research centers is available on the University web site at

1. Gene Transfer Vector Core (Dr. Beverly Davidson, Director)
The Gene Transfer Vector Core was established in 1994 with approximately $1.1 million in funds provided by the College of Medicine and the Carver Trust for the recruitment of Dr. Beverly Davidson, the purchase of equipment, and the renovation of suitable space in the Ekstein Medical Research Building. The Vector Core is a service facility with ongoing support by the College of Medicine, but it is also supported by RO1s, program projects (PPGs), Center Grants (P30s) and SCORs. This facility provides an integrative function in facilitating gene transfer studies in both applied and basic research. Core staff work closely with investigators to plan and develop gene transfer vectors to fit individual project requirements. For interested investigators the Gene Transfer Vector Core develops viral (adenovirus and retrovirus) and non-viral tools to be used in gene transfer studies. A variety of viruses are available that contain reporter constructs for pilot studies. Inthe future, the Gene Transfer Vector Core plans to widen the scope of this core by contributing our expertise in recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV), which is a most promising new gene therapy vector.

Currently, the Vector Core provides the following services:
Preparation of working stocks of previously generated recombinant viruses for investigators to perform gene transfer experiments
Testing of all viruses stocks for wild type contamination and pfu/particle ratio
Generation of new recombinant viruses as needed, including cloning into shuttle vectors
Assisting in the evaluation of initial gene transfer studies by helping set up molecular and/or enzymatic assays

By providing these core services, the Vector Core substantially reduces the overall cost and time of setting up routine vector production in each investigator's laboratory.

2. Transgenic Facility (Dr. Curt Sigmund, Director)
The Transgenic Animal Facility, built in 1992 at a cost of about $2,400,000, is housed in the Oakdale Research Park. The facility has, as its prime purpose, provision of centralized instrumentation and expertise in the generation, breeding, and analysis of transgenic animals in support of research initiated by Collegiate investigators. The facility provides supplies, well-maintained equipment and consultant expertise, as well as first class BL2 animal housing facilities in 7000 square feet of space. The purpose of this core is to provide centralized production, care, breeding, genotyping and quality control of transgenic and knockout animals for use by investigators in the Center. The core also provides a mechanism for the receipt or distribution of new experimental transgenic and knockout models with the Jackson Laboratory Induced Mutant Resource, a national resource for transgenic and knockout mice, to Center investigators.
Recently, the Vice President for Research has committed over $260,000 for the recruitment of Dr. Vera Soares to set up a centralized facility for the generation of knockout mouse models. Dr. Soares was formerly the manager of the gene-targeting facility at Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York City, and is well qualified to take on this challenge.

The main responsibilities of the Core are:

Generation of transgenic mice.
Generation of gene-targeted mice
Genotyping transgenic and knockout animals
Re-derival of genetic stocks
Maintenance, cryopreservation, and provision of genetic stocks
Quality Control
Gene Therapy Center expanded the experimental animal models based at this facility by including human bronchial xenograft models for studies of CF airway disease.

3. DNA Facility (Dr. Kevin Knudtsen, Director)
The molecular biology core provides a variety of services and resources in its efforts to make the techniques of modern DNA technology readily available to investigators. Support for this facility arises in large part from the Diabetes and Endocrinology Center Grant, which provides about $195,500/year. In recognition of the high value of the services of this facility to campus researches, the College of Medicine provides monetary support, ($55,000 for 1997-1998), as well laboratory and office space in the Eckstein Medical Research Building. The remainder of core support arises from charge-back user fees, which average $225,000/year.

The activities and services of this core focus around six major areas of support:

DNA Sequencing
Custom Oligonucleotide Ordering
Molecular Biology Research Products
Resources and Support for Computer -aided DNA Analysis
Research Methodology Consultation and Training
Collaborative Research and Methodology Development

4. Central Microscopy Research Facility (Randy Nessler, Director)
The Cell Morphology Core of our proposed Gene Therapy Center is closely affiliated with the existing Central Microscopy Research Facility (CMRF). This superb facility is a primary resource for Center participants, providing instrumentation and technical assistance in the use of Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy, Light Microscopy, Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy, Scanning Probe Microscopy, and X-ray Microanalysis. The CMRF, which has an operating budget of over $500,000/year, is funded in large part through the office of the Vice President for Research, ($174,678 for 1997-1998), supplemented with user fees and grant support. The facility is available to all University of Iowa faculty, staff and students, as well as investigators from other campuses and industry. Several participants in this Gene Therapy Center are among the heaviest users of the CMRF, including Michael Welsh and his collaborators, Beverly Davidson, and Kevin Campbell.

Other areas of service and expertise of the CMRF include:

Cryo-Scanning or Transmission Electron Microscopy
High Resolution or Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscopy
Atomic Force Microscopy and Scanning Tunneling Microscopy
Plastic Embedding/Paraffin Processing/Microtomy
Cryostat Sectioning
Freeze Fracture
Immunocytochemistry/Enzyme Cytochemistry
Histology/In-situ Hybridization
Photography/Digital image acquisition and printing

5. Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing
The Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing (CBB) is housed in a spacious and modern research building on the Oakdale campus of the University of Iowa. A cooperative endeavor involving more than 35 faculty members from within six departments on The University of Iowa campus, the CBB 1) facilitates interactions among faculty scientists; 2) assists in attracting extramural grant/contract funding from federal, state and industrial sources; and 3) provides leadership in spawning new interdisciplinary academic opportunities in biocatalysis and bioprocessing. The CBB laboratory facility houses three laboratories for the conduct of multidisciplinary industry/academic research in biocatalysis and bioprocessing, and exploratory research and development work in collaboration with biotechnology and bioprocessing industries. A pilot-plant-scale-bioprocessing laboratory brings research findings from the bench through the first stages of scale-up. The CBB facility also contains cold rooms, incubator rooms and a fermentation/medium preparation room. The Center has an industrial affiliates program designed to encourage and simplify interactions with individuals or groups of faculty scientists. Research expertise includes the areas of bioremediation, new biocatalyst discovery and application, fundamental properties of biocatalysis, bioprocessing technology, and development of biocatalysts for the synthesis of chemicals and bioactive agents.

6. Office of Animal Resources (Dr. Paul Cooper, Director)
The College of Medicine maintains excellent animal facilities supervised by a senior veterinarian, Dr. Paul Cooper, and his staff. Animal facilities are housed in the Medical Laboratories, the Bowen Science Building, the Oakdale Campus Transgenic Facility, and the VA Medical Center. In the past several years, the facilities have been markedly upgraded, and the unit has received full accreditation from the American Association for Accreditation for Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC). There is a well-established and stringent review procedure for all applications involving animal research on this campus which meets with the standards set forth by the American Physiological Society.
At both the Bowen Science Building animal facility and the Transgenic animal facility at Oakdale, there are modern, rigorously maintained BL2-Level animal quarters staffed by highly trained technical support personnel. In addition, the University of Iowa College of Medicine and the Hospitals and Clinics are one the few medical centers in the United States where there is an authorized program for utilizing hospital equipment to perform animal studies. Over the past several years, animal studies have been performed in the Ultrafast CT facility, the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance imaging facility and the Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Center. Overall, all aspects of the animal care program at the University of Iowa are superb and have been an enormous asset to investigators performing research studies that require experimental animals of varied species.

7. Tissue Culture/Hybridoma Facility (Dr. Charles Lovig, Director)
The Hybridoma Facility, located in a 2,500 sq. ft. facility in the Eckstein Medical Research Building, performs such services as fusions for monoclonal antibody production, large and small scale antibody production, in vitro immunization, as well as growth, maintenance, storage and cataloging of antibody-producing cell lines. The facility has an approved Animal Care Protocol on file and also performs mouse immunizations for the investigator as required. In addition, the facility supplies both commercial and custom-made media for all types of cell and tissue culturing at a considerable cost saving, and maintains stocks of local investigator-generated antibodies specific for over 300 human and animal antigens that are available for other labs to utilize in their research. The Hybridoma Facility contains water-jacketed CO2 incubators, biohazard hoods, microscopes, waterbaths, air lift and hollow fiber bioreactors, plate readers, liquid nitrogen storage facilities and all auxiliary equipment required for these services. The facility also maintains an inventory of approximately 200 restriction and other enzymes required for molecular biology research from commercial sources that may be purchased at discounted prices in quantities as small as one microliter. This service provides investigators with convenient and fast access to small quantities of enzymes, in many cases eliminating the need for individual laboratories to maintain expensive inventories.

8. Biosafety Level III Facility
The Biosafety Level III (BSL-III) facility of the Iowa City VAMC is open to faculty and staff from the VAMC and the University of Iowa. This facility is funded jointly by the University of Iowa and the VAMC, and has been established to provide animal housing and laboratory space for research work involving human pathogens. Projects performed within this facility are funded by both VA and non-VA sources.

9. Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Facility.
Located in the Medical Laboratories of the College of Medicine, the facility contains three advanced fluorescence-activated cell sorters used for studies in cell biology, genetics, immunology, endocrinology, hematology, cell physiology, and cell kinetics. Examples of applications of the facility include 1) analysis and sterile isolation of cells bearing or containing specific macromolecules, such as immunoglobulins, receptors, or cellular products; 2) analysis of cell proliferation response to drugs or treatments, such as those used in cancer chemotherapy; 3) analysis and isolation of cell fusions; and 4) analysis of cell physiological properties, such as trans-membrane voltage potential or content of cellular metabolic molecules.

10. Other Selected Facilities:

Bioengineering Facility
Bioquantitative Image Analysis System
Biostatistics Consulting Center
Biotechnology Byproducts Consortium
Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Facilities
Cell Fluorescence Core Facility
Center for Computer-Aided Design
Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research
Center for Health Services Research
Computer Resources Lab
Electro-Magnetic Vibrator
Electron Spin Resonance Facility
Electronics Assembly Shop
Engineering Machine Shop
Gas Chromatography Facility
Graphics Services
High Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility*
High Resolution Mass Spectrometry Facility
Image Analysis Facility*
Information Technology Services
Injury Prevention Research Center
Large Scale Fermentation Facility
Medical Graphics Section
Medical Instruments Facility
Medical Photography
Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Center
Protein Structure Facility
Radiation Facility
Ultrafast CT Facility

*Support from the Vice-President of Research's office for 1997-1998: Image Analysis Facility - $150,000; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility - $80,000; and Mass Spectrometry Facility - $137,000.