Translational Technologies and Resources (Core Labs)

Director: Ponnada A. Narayana, PhD; DABR

Contact person:  Nelly Arias 713-500-7583 

The CCTS directly supports some core laboratories (listed below) and has arranged the use of others at competitive rates at UTHealth and  M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and throughout Texas, through the Texas Regional CTSA Consortium (TRCC) For more information or to use the laboratories, contact them directly or call or email Nelly Arias 713-500-7583. 

DNA Sequencing and Genotyping Core

Director: Dianna M. Milewicz, MD, PhD 
Contact person: Dongchuan Guo, PhD 713-500-6849  

The core provides consultative expertise, mentoring, and technical support for studies involving genetic technologies, including DNA sequencing, genotyping techniques, data collection, and statistical analyses. The program is composed of four major components:

  1.  Consultative and mentor-based support services that provide individual investigators with guidance in the design, application, and interpretation of their genetic studies
  2. Expertise in issues relating to proper informed consent for genetic studies and genetic counseling for patients enrolled in the studies.
  3. Sanger DNA sequencing and microsatellite and SNP genotyping services that generate preliminary data supporting translational genetic research studies.
  4. Infrastructure for banking DNA and other samples from patient populations and management system for sample tracking. 

For more information, see the core's website

Clinical and Translational Proteomics/Biomarker Core

Director:  Hongyu Wang, PhD, MD
Contact person:  Li Li 713-500-2456

The Clinical and Translational Proteomics Service Center provides state-of-the-art instrumentation and services to all of UTHealth and the surrounding research community. This center offers both routine services for faculty who cannot purchase their own mass spectrometry instrumentation and collaborative research requiring advanced methods. The center works in a collaborative fashion between faculty, students, and staff to customize services to suit individual projects.

  • The core’s state-of-the-art instrumentation includes:
  • Thermo LTQ Orbitrap XL-ETD mass spectrometer
  • Agilent's 6538 Ultra High Definition Accurate-mass Q-TOF
  • Agilent's 6430 Triple Quadrupole LC/ MS 
  • Applied Biosystems/MDS SCIEX QSTAR Elite Mass Spectrometer

Services include:

  • Protein identification from 1-D gel bands, 2-D spots, and other matrices
  • Molecular weight determination, peptide and protein quality control
  • Targeted proteomics (SRM) for biomarker discovery as well as quantitation of selected proteins or peptides in a complex mixture
  • Biomarker discovery and verification
  • Pharmaceutical protein quality assurance and quality control
  • Characterization of immunoprecipitated or affinity-purified proteins and protein complexes
  • Global protein profiling with quantitative comparisons between samples (label-free, iTRAQ, SILAC, etc)
  • Enrichment and characterization of post-translationally modified proteins and peptides

For more information, see the core’s website  

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Core

Director: Refaat Gabr, PhD,  713-500-7660
Contact person: Nelly Arias  713-500-7583 

The main emphasis of the core is the development and application of advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, including selective tissue imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, diffusion tensor imaging to neurological disorders, central nervous system trauma, and drug addiction both in humans and animal models.  Another major emphasis is the development of novel image processing techniques that are robust and automatic for handling a large number of images that are typically encountered in multi-center clinical trials.

The laboratory facilities include a 7-Tesla, state-of-the-art MRI scanner dedicated to animal studies with a fully equipped animal surgical suite, a research-dedicated 3-Tesla whole-body scanner, and an image processing laboratory with a high-performance computing cluster and GPU processing.

For more information, see the core's website

Atomic Force Microscopy Core

Director: David Volk, PhD 
Contact person: Ana Maria Zaske, PhD 713-486-5418  

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a technique for characterizing surfaces and can reproduce topological images under physiological-like conditions. AFM is a noninvasive technique base on bio-sensing. Scanning can be performed in air or in a liquid environment, and a range of samples, from living cells down to single molecules, can be imaged. AFM is also an attractive tool for studying the endocytosis of nano vectors and the systemic response to biological processes. An area of major interest is determining the stiffness of a sample (elastic modulus). The elasticity of the cell membrane can vary between cell types as a function of growth, differentiation, disease, or treatment. Non-cellular structures can also be imaged. The core uses a Bioscope II Scanning Probe Microscope specifically designed to address the needs of biological and medical investigations. It has unprecedented compatibility with optical microscopy. All three axes of the instrument are equipped with high-resolution capacitive sensors; this allows imaging at the nanoscale level and in liquids. The microscope requires minimal sample preparation.

For more information, see the flyer.  

Pre-Clinical Computed Tomography (CT) Core Facility

Director/Contact person: Delia Danila, PhD 713- 486-6531 

The core lab has a specialized CT system for rapid high-resolution imaging of objects up to the size of large rabbits. The facility utilizes a GE eXplore Ultra Pre-Clinical CT Scanner (GE Healthcare, London, ON) for high-resolution (150-micrometer isotropic voxel size) cone-beam CT engineered for small-animal imaging (maximum 14-cm diameter field of view).  The system permits up to 1-second gantry rotation times, and X-rays are produced by a variable voltage X-ray tube capable of energies from 70 to 140 kVp.  This provides high-quality images with contrast-to-noise, resolution, and dose performance optimized for pre-clinical imaging. This imaging modality can facilitate studies in many disciplines, including orthopedics, pulmonary, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, oncology, and others.

For more information, please see the following.

Bioinformatics and High-Performance Computing Service Center

Director/Contact person: W. Jim Zheng, PhD 713- 500-3641

The UTHealth Bioinformatics Service Center provides expertise to process and analyze biological data. Center faculty focus on gene expression, genotyping, proteomics, metabonomics, and next-generation sequencing data and can also perform custom or other complex analyses. Additional services available include experiment design and assistance in developing grant applications and manuscripts. For more information, see the Biomedical Informatics component website 

Nano 3D Printing Service Center

Director/Contact person: David Volk, PhD 713-500-3611

The UTHealth Nano 3D Printing Service Center offers large-scale, high-resolution professional grade 3D prints using our Stratasys J750 PolyJet printer and our Fortus 450mc FDM type of 3D printer. Fast prototypes or production models can be printed, typically overnight. A wide variety of materials are available and objects as big as a human rib cage can be printed.

For more information, see the core’s website 

Texas Therapeutics Institute (TTI)

Director/Contact person: Zhiqiang An, PhD  713-500-3011

TTI is a research consortium of investigators from UTHealth, UT MDACC, and The University of Texas at Austin that promotes translational research collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry on drug discovery and drug development. TTI provides the follow-on technology and expertise to develop and optimize promising results in therapeutics research.  

For more information, see the TTI website