Translational Technologies and Resources
Our mission is to support outstanding clinical investigation by facilitating analysis of biological samples and by assisting with acquisition and interpretation of laboratory data. We also support research that involves imaging and body composition measurements.
Melinda Sheffield-Moore, PhD, is the Director of the ITS Core Laboratory and the ITS Biorepository.
Dr. Melinda Sheffield-Moore is currently a tenured Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism. She is also a faculty in the Cell Biology Graduate Program, Assistant Program Director of the Institute of Translational Sciences (ITS) Clinical Research Center (ITS-CRC), Director of the ITS-CRC Core Laboratory, and Director of the ITS Biorepository. Dr. Sheffield-Moore is funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct patient-oriented research and is also a fellow of the Sealy Center on Aging and an investigator at the Pepper Center.
As Director of the ITS Biorepository, Dr. Sheffield-Moore chairs the Biorepository Oversight Committee meeting that reviews applications for storing or utilizing stored biospecimens.
Thomas G. Wood, PhD, is the Co-Director of the ITS Core Laboratory and ITS Biorepository
Dr. Wood is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a Senior Scientist in the Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine. He is the Director of the Molecular Genetics (MG) Core facility, a position he has held since 1992. Prior to that time he was the head of the Recombinant DNA Laboratory, National Cancer Institute/Frederick Cancer Research Center for seven years. The Molecular Genetics Core facility encompasses four core laboratories: The Recombinant DNA Laboratory, the Molecular Genomics Core, the Real Time PCR Core and, the most recent addition, the Next Generation Sequencing Core. The Molecular Genomics Core offers gene expression analysis using Affymetrix "Gene Chip" technology. In addition, this core provides real time microarrays, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis, and DNA sequence analysis. The Recombinant DNA Laboratory offers technical support in molecular cloning with expertise in site-directed mutagenesis, plasmid design and construction and bacterial expression. The Real Time PCR Core provides expertise in real time quantitative analysis of messenger RNA using both "Taqman" and SYBR green based assays. UTMB's Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Core utilizes an Illumina HiSeq 1000 sequencing system to perform massively parallel sequencing for genetic analysis. The NGS Core offers support in library construction from various template sources: RNA (total, poly A+ and miRNA), chromatin immunoprecipitated DNA (ChIP-Seq) and DNA (genomic and amplicon-derived). The HiSeq 1000 has the capacity to create over 1.5 billion clusters across an 8-channel flow cell. With the capability of either single-end or paired-end sequence reads and 50 to 100 base read lengths, the HiSeq 1000 can generate up to 300 Gb from a single sequence run. Costs are reduced by indexing ("bar coding") individual template libraries, allowing multiple libraries to be sequenced in each of the 8 flow cell lanes. As Director of the MG Core, Dr. Wood is responsible for day-to-day operations and provides scientific direction and program management for the Cores. Dr. Wood has extensive experience in the development and management of service Cores.
Michael Loeffelholz, PhD, CAP Certification Adviser
Rosalinda Rivera, MS, Core Laboratory Manager
Services and Resources
The ITS Core Laboratory can assist clinical investigators with processing clinical samples from both diseased and control subjects. In addition to specimen storage, the laboratory offers a full range of assays and imaging services, as detailed below.
- Process, label, catalog, and store clinical research samples and distribute them to research laboratories, in accordance with College of American Pathology guidelines and current human subjects regulatory guidelines
- Provide Glucose/Lactate Testing
- Provide Cytokine and Hormone Testing using the Bio-Rad Bio-Plex® 200 platform and the Immulite® 2000 platform
- Temporary sample storage in -80°C and -20°C freezers
- Protocol-specific DNA and RNA extractions
- Provide techniques for body composition (underwater weighing and BODPOD)
- Provide a dependable service for indirect calorimetry
- Provide a reliable service for strength testing
- Provide additional laboratory services and technical guidance:
- for the development or application of selected research-quality assays
- for reducing redundant funding for the same laboratory technique
- Educate and train physicians and non-physicians in clinical research and to stimulate research collaborations between basic scientists and clinical investigators
The biorepository has the capacity to store more than 188,000 human biological samples at -80°C, with 24-hour temperature monitoring capability. The goal is to:
- Provide patient biospecimens for investigation to PIs within UTMB
- Provide an inventory system and with 24-hour freezer temperature monitoring system
- Review biospecimen applications from PIs interested in storing and/or using human blood, plasma, serum and saliva samples collected and reposed
Imaging Lab Functions
The Core Laboratory oversees the usage of a GE Lunar iDEXA for measuring lean body mass and bone mineral density. A trained technician is available to perform these measures and provide guidance on analysis. This imaging technique is currently being used by a number of investigators for examining the impact of various nutritional and exercise interventions. The simultaneous acquisition of lean body mass and bone mineral density enhances the analytical value of iDEXA.
Magnetic resonance imaging is performed through the ITS-CRC and the Department of Radiology and has been used by many of our CRC investigators for determining muscle volume and fat changes associated with long-term interventions. Lower body imaging is particularly useful for studying leg muscle and fat changes associated with inactivity, the effect of anabolic agents in aging, and to evaluate pediatric and adult burn rehabilitation.
Contrast enhanced ultrasound for muscle perfusion
Contrast enhanced ultrasound (CEU) is an ultrasound technique performed during the infusion of a contrast agent, such as microbubbles, that is used to measure skeletal muscle microvascular perfusion. The ITS-CRC has a Phillips HDI-5000 ultrasound machine for applying this technique in humans.