Numerous opportunities exist for predoctoral and postdoctoral research, including several jointly sponsored projects. Ongoing research involves techniques ranging from those used in study of single cells to analysis of behavior of animals housed individually or in groups.
Computer modelling of neural systems is also an active area of interest of several participating faculty. Individual labs and research facilities are located in the Morrill Science Center (Microbiology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Biology), Tobin Hall (Psychology), and the Graduate Research Center (Biochemistry and Computer Science). Major research capabilities include electrophysiological recording set-ups, neurochemistry, image analysis, HPLC and gas chromatography, electron microscopy, recombinant DNA and monoclonal antibody work, tissue culture, neurotransmitter and hormone receptor assays, etc. Additional specialized equipment is available in the other physical and life sciences departments of the University of Massachusetts and the other four institutions of the Five College consortium.
Central Microscopy Facility
The Central Microscopy Facility provides a complete range of services in light and electron microscopy and computer image processing, with special emphasis on biological applications. In addition to carrying out research projects for clients, the facility staff provides consultation and a flexible training program for users. Instruments and accessories now available for electron microscopy include transmission microscopes, a scanning microscope, freeze-fracture apparatus, high pressure freezer, vacuum evaporator, several ultramicrotomes, critical point dryer, sputter coater, and fully equipped darkrooms. For light microscopy, two compound microscopes are available, one dedicated for use with confocal microscopy, the other equipped with phase, fluorescence, and DIC optics, and an automatic 35mm camera. Digital image acquisition is available on the microscopes via video camera or a Photometrics cooled CCD. The confocal microscopy system is a Biorad MRC-600/1000 on a Nikon Diaphot 200 inverted microscope with fiber optic-launched Kr-Ar laser, Enhanced Photomultiplier Tube upgrade, and Sony video printer.
Image processing is available on a number of computers and platforms: Silicon Graphics Indigo2 workstation with Indigo Video system, VCR for recording the output of animations, etc., 3-D image processing with VoxelView, Digital Audio Tape storage; Macintosh 6300 PowerPC with NIH Image, Scion frame grabber, Hammamatsu video camera, Digital Micrograph, and Philips CD recorder; PC/Win systems with a variety of programs. All computer systems are networked.
Digital images may be acquired directly from the Philips TEM using the Gatan CCD camera (hosted on Macintosh/Digital Micrograph), and on the SEM as well. Digital printing is available on the Codonics NP-1600 network printer (color/greyscale; 300 dpi), and film recording is available on the Focus Filmcorder.
Click here for more information: http://www.bio.umass.edu/microscopy
Molecular and Cell Biology Facilities
The Molecular and Cellular Biology Core Facility includes a flow cytofluorometry laboratory, a phosphorimager and an amino acid analyzer.
Flow cytofluorometry laboratory
The equipment for flow cytofluorometry includes a Becton Dickinson FACScan and a FACStar Plus. The FACScan is a multiuser flow cytometer configured for five parameter cell analysis. The majority of FACScan uses involve the analysis of cell types as distinguished by antigen determinants or by probes of internal content or structure or function. The FACScan is also used for cell cycle analysis. The FACStar Plus is a preparative cell sorter with a single two-watt argon tunable laser used for four parameter cell analysis and sorting. This instrument allows researchers to isolate defined cell populations for further study.
The Molecular Dynamics STORM 840 phosphorimager is a multiuser instrument with radioactive and nonradioactive detection capabilities. Researchers can use storage phosphor screen autoradiograpy, direct fluorescence or chemifluorescence for their DNA, RNA and protein samples. ImageQuant image analysis software runs on a Macintosh platform to analyze date collected by the STORM 840. Densitometers and gel reading software are also available.
Amino acid analysis
The PE Biosystems 420A amino acid analyser linked to an on-line 130A PTC separation system is used for the compositional analysis and quantitation of proteins and peptides. The micropreparative electrophoresis unit, PE Biosystems 230A, is used for the purification of proteins and peptides.
Genome Analysis and Computing
The University maintains a DNA sequencing laboratory equipped with an automated sequencer (ABI 377) and associated software. Analytical software is offered through the Molecular Biology/Biotechnology Computing Center. The MBBCC provides hardware, software, database resources and technical assistance to biological scientists in the Five Colleges for conducting research in molecular biology and bioinformatics. Facilities include hardware and software tools necessary to conduct sequence analysis, including a Silicon Graphics workstation running the Wisconsin Package by GCG. This is an integrated system of programs necessary for large-scale sequencing projects, mapping and sequence comparisons, database searching, multiple sequence analysis and alignments, RNA secondary structure prediction, and protein analysis. Facility resources are accessible to students and faculty via the Internet system.
The Molecular and Cellular Biology faculty offer expertise and facilities to assist with the preparation of mice bearing transgenes by traditional pronuclear microinjection and targeted mutations via homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells. Recent work at the University of Massachusetts resulted in the birth of the first transgenic cattle by nuclear transplantation of somatic cells. This technical advance has not made it possible to use nuclear transplantation of somatic cells to prepare genetically modified laboratory animals and livestock. Facilities for microinjection and embryo manipulation are housed in Paige Laboratory as part of the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences.
High Field NMR Facility
The High Field NMR Facility is jointly operated by the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, and Polymer Science and Engineering, under the direction of a Ph.D. level scientist. There are three high field spectrometers available for routine analysis (DPX300, MSL300, and AC200 spectrometers manufactured by Bruker). Three additional spectrometers are available for advanced applications. The AMX500 spectrometer is fully equipped for triple resonance and gradient experiments, while the DSX300 and ASX300 are wide bore solid-state spectrometers which are equipped for triple resonance experiments as well as high-speed magic angle spinning, static solids, and wideline experiments. The advanced spectrometers are capable of the latest techniques for structure determination of macromolecules, including multinuclear, multidimensional NMR analysis of proteins and site-directed studies of insoluble, larger systems such as membrane proteins. The spectrometers are ethernet-linked to a number of Silicon Graphics computers for data analysis, computation and manipulation of three-dimensional structures.
Collaborative Biomedical Research Program
This program was established to foster the integration of clinical medicine and basic research. Collaborative Research Projects are supervised by co-principal investigators at the University of Massachusetts in conjunction with faculty at Baystate Medical Center. These collaborations offer graduate students extensive exposure to the challenges faced by physicians and access to clinical specimens. The Collaborative Biomedical Research Program sponsors a course in "Molecular Medicine". This course is open to graduate students at the University of Massachusetts and clinical physicians as part of the Continuing Medical Education program at Baystate Medical Center. Faculty from both institutions provide instruction in clinical aspects of specific diseases and the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease.