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WSU Research Core Facilities

Core facilities

Core lab units make specialized research instrumentation and services available to WSU faculty and student researchers, as well as to external clients

Institutional core facilities


Biomolecular X-Ray Crystallography Center 
(BXC)

First established as a lab in 1994, the BXC Center provides biophysical and biochemical data for a wide range of research projects. It is also a center of teaching and outreach. WSU faculty and students train on the equipment, and the lab mentors high-school students, giving them hands-on experience with the joy and challenge of scientific research.

The center collaborates with numerous organizations, including the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the US Navy Research Center, the NIH, and several universities. A $1.5 million investment from the NSF recently gave the BXC Center a complete line of high-throughput equipment, making it one of the most advanced university research labs in the nation.

 

Center for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy

The Center gives WSU researchers access to state-of-the-art NMR instrumentation, which determines the spectrum (or fingerprint) that reveals the identity and structure of molecules.

Funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Battelle Memorial Institute, and the Murdock Charitable Trust, the lab’s equipment offers the valuable flexibility of being able to study both solids and liquids.

The lab’s NMR instruments recently provided data for a study on the structure of anti-cancer compounds in plants and for research on microorganisms producing triacylglycerides, an important component in biofuel production.

 

Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center (FMIC)

The center plays an essential role in the University’s life sciences and engineering research by providing instrumentation and expertise for the observation, imaging and ultrastructural study of biological and nonbiological specimens using light and electron microscopy. It is one of the oldest facilities of its kind, having been established in 1962. The scanning electron microscopes can be used to explore the subcellular structure of cells or to examine protein complexes on the surfaces of cells, while the transmission electron microscopes can reveal exquisitely fine detail within the cell. The center also provides course in electron microscopy for graduate and undergraduate students.

 

Molecular Biology and Genomics Core

In the realm of DNA sequencing, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. This laboratory provides WSU researchers with two next-generation sequencing platforms (Ion Torrent and 454 Life Sciences), as well as providing a multitude of services and instrumentation to support investigations in molecular biology, genomics, and proteomics.

With the two systems’ complementary abilities, WSU researchers are reaching farther and diving deeper than ever before. Dr. Claire Coyne, of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, is well on her way to sequencing the entire pea-plant genome, while Dr. Mike Konkel, of the School of Molecular Biosciences, is interrogating bacterial genomes in great detail.

 

Stable Isotope Core Facility

This facility allows researchers to address critical questions by measuring naturally occurring, stable isotopes of important elements in plant, soil, water, and atmospheric samples. Established with more than $1.3 million in funding from the NSF, the facility provides analyses for scientists from all four of the University’s campuses, contributing to research awards totaling over $15 million.

WSU researchers and graduate students are building custom equipment and developing new approaches to determine the sources of nitrogen pollution in the atmosphere. And stable isotope analysis was a critical component of a WSU study demonstrating that arid regions are major sinks for atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The facility also provides unique, hands-on research training for students. Over 40 graduate students have been trained there, resulting in 27 theses and dissertations.

 

Tissue Imaging and Proteomics Laboratory 

This facility uses mass spectrometry imaging techniques to understand metabolic processes in all types of organisms, from animals to plants to microbes, down to the subcellular level using high-spatial resolution. The laboratory has leading-edge instrumentation for the large-scale profiling and identification of proteins and metabolites that can ultimately provide a better understanding of the cellular responses of organisms to external stimuli. Correlating genetic information with protein information provides a unique way of understanding gene function and the interrelationships between genes. 

 

WSU Spokane Instrumentation Core Facilities

Additional instrumentation core facilities are located on the WSU Spokane campus, including mass spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, genomics, flow cytometry, and microscopy.

 

Kamiak – High Performance Computing

The Kamiak cluster provides the platform for deployment of an institutional compute- and data-intensive cyber-infrastructure that responds to existing and anticipated needs of the University’s research community. It enables simulation and data science “at-scale.”

Other WSU Core Facilities

 

Flow Cytometry Laboratory

Operated by the College of Veterinary Medicine, this laboratory analyzes and sorts cells using 8 different parameters for biotechnology research and the diagnosis of health disorders. Flow cytometry is a powerful tool for critically analyzing individual cells and other biological particles. Using this technology, the expression of proteins on the surface of cells can be analyzed while simultaneously investigating cell complexity and size. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting, a component of flow cytometry, allows specific subsets of cells to be isolated and purified from a heterogeneous mixture of cells. This technology has been used to determine the cell types of malignancies and to monitor cell populations following infection, disease course, and immunization studies.

Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab (WADDL)

Safeguarding the health of animals and the public has been the mission of WADDL since it was established in 1974. The laboratory is an integral part of a network of tax-supported state diagnostic reference facilities throughout the U.S. dedicated to bettering animal and human health by protecting the public from animal-borne diseases.

Advice and consultation are provided to practicing veterinarians, animal industry groups, state and federal regulatory officials, and physicians. For example, veterinarians can send samples to WADDL and other network labs for analysis with the fastest diagnostic techniques available. In partnership with the Washington State Department of Health, WADDL keeps systematic watch for West Nile Virus, and surveys animal populations for the presence of other diseases that could infect humans, such as plague and tularemia. WADDL scientists also play a central role in the university’s Food and Water-Borne Disease Research Group, which investigates diseases that pass from animals to humans through food or water.

Monoclonal Antibody Center

Researchers in the biological and biomedical sciences use the center’s technology to study the immune system and how microorganisms can cause disease. The technology is pivotal in research related to vaccine development, disease resistance, and for food and companion animals.

Non-instrumentation core facilities

 

Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (SESRC)

Experts at the SESRC conduct social science surveys and evaluations that shed new light on people’s opinions, needs, behaviors, attitudes, and preferences. They can help design research methodologies, develop questionnaires, and determine which research population best fits an investigator’s needs. The SESRC provides a number of other services, including helping to identify focus groups, data entry and verification, mass-mailing processing, and the creation of customized online data collection programs. The SESRC has been involved in over 1,400 projects for organizations as varied as the World Health Organization, the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the National Park Service, and the Washington State Patrol.

 

Consortium for Interdisciplinary Statistical Education and Research (CISER)

This group brings together faculty members with expertise in statistics. It coordinates consultation and assistance in statistical analysis to facilitate faculty collaborations. It also provides statistical support for research grants and training grants. Consortium faculty members collaborate with and educate faculty and graduate students on research-related statistical problems, ranging from basic applied tests to advanced analyses requiring novel tools. They match statistical expertise with research needs, help coordinate statistical course offerings across WSU, and stimulate interaction, learning, and professional growth in applied statistics.

 

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