Cell Biology and Flow Cytometry Core Facility
The Cell Biology and Flow Cytometry Core Facility (CellCore) at the Population Council's Center for Biomedical Research serves the research needs of more than 20 investigators. The overall mission of this core facility is to provide intensive training and instruction, especially for trainees, fellows, and junior researchers, in the use of sterile techniques for live cell–based studies. Ex vivo cultures serve to minimize the reliance of investigators on the use of large numbers of animals for their biomedical experiments. Hands-on training and monitoring ensures both the highest quality and most efficient use of the facility as a specialized, community-shared service facility. In addition, centralized core purchases of reagents and supplies reduce the cost of these materials for individual laboratories.
The technical service aspect of the core facility is organized into five main components. All of these rely on sophisticated instrumentation to maintain specific, individualized environmental conditions and ensure the safe handling of biohazardous materials.
The cell line culture room is designed for handling cell and molecular biology–based research using established, immortalized cell lines of primarily human, but also rodent and monkey origin that have specialized characteristics that help the researchers validate biochemical, morphological, or pharmacological hypotheses concerning reproductive system physiology and cancer biology. CellCore maintains an extensive cell line repository (300+ lines in single-vial aliquots; liquid nitrogen storage) to serve investigators' needs as the experimental work plan arises. This culture facility operates at the highest-level HEPA room air quality and supply; all cell lines are first certified as “mycoplasma-free” prior to use in this room. CellCore personnel are available to meet with individual investigators to design and plan experiments with specific cell lines as needed. New cell lines are added to the repository for use in this room after quarantine and testing by CellCore personnel.
Animal tissue isolation and primary culture
In the primary culture laboratory, investigators isolate and establish short-term cultures of cells directly from reproductive tissues and experimental animal models, including transgenic rodents. These cells show characteristics closely resembling those of the intact state, and allow researchers to characterize and predict how these cells may behave in response to hormones, growth factors, drugs, or a new chemical compound in the whole animal. Ultimately, these cell-based studies are the initial steps in determining the usefulness and safety of new molecules prior to their preclinical testing in animals and, once safety is evaluated, before use in human Phase 1 studies.
Sterile materials and reagent preparation; autoclave services
The third section of the facility is the sterile materials and reagents preparation laboratory. Specialized preparations of chemicals and nutrients for growing and maintaining cells are made here. In-house preparation ensures the highest level of quality control, the monitoring of each reagent for its shelf life and potency, and reduced costs to each user compared to individual commercial vendor purchases. In addition, this laboratory is equipped with an FDA-approved large-capacity steam autoclave to disinfect and prepare materials for sterile use or molecular biology protocols.
Flow cytometry is the fourth highly specialized service category provided by CellCore manager Catherine Rapelje. Flow analyses and cell sorting are conducted for investigators' projects by the manager or trained, experienced CellCore-certified users using the facility's FACSCalibur (BD) fluorescence-activated cell sorter. (Online reservations for the FACSCalibur flow cytometer by certified users can be made using the meeting manager tool on the Council's intranet: CELLCORE at the New York location)
Quantitative real-time PCR analysis
The facility has an ABI-Prism 7700 instrument for quantitative RNA and DNA analysis using a standard curve method of analysis. CellCore personnel are available to train prospective users and provide oversight quality-control for this instrument.
CellCore personnel are available to give advice on cell culture techniques and specialized applications, to troubleshoot problems as they arise during users' work, and to maintain the high-quality environment of the entire core facility.
CellCore director Patricia L. Morris has developed a set of guidelines for CellCore users. (PDF)
Population Council staff