Tavan Janvilisri needs special tools to understand the diarrhea-causing bacterium he studies. To combat Clostridium difficile, researchers like Janvilisri, a Cornell postdoctoral associate in population medicine and diagnostic science, employ modern methods using genomics, proteomics (identifying proteins and their functions) and more.
Fortunately, the Cornell Life Sciences Core Laboratories Center (CLC) provides an array of state-of-the-art instruments and services for experimentation that involves genomics, proteomics, imaging, IT and informatics. CLC's research resources are located on the Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC) in Manhattan and are available to the entire university community and to investigators at outside academic and commercial institutions. The CLC is an example of the many high-tech core resources that are available to Cornell investigators to facilitate their research.
For example, the CLC offers a DNA sequencing facility where Janvilisri can compare the genomes of various strains of C. difficile; a proteomics facility where he can analyze essential proteins in the bacterium's cell cycle; and an informatics facility to study functional genomics.
"The core facilities are the focal point of providing access to instrumentation that is too expensive for any individual researcher to afford," said George Grills, CLC director of operations of core facilities in the life sciences and director of advanced technology assessment.
Some core facilities have been set up as true cross-campus collaborations. For example, the CLC and WCMC have established an epigenomics facility to study processes that regulate how and when genes are turned on and off in a cell or organism. The epigenomics core resources at WCMC are used to prepare samples that are then sent to the core resources in Ithaca for data generation and analysis.
The CLC also supports the Collaborative Program in Personalized Medicine, where, for example, those involved with long-term genetic research into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the nation's fourth-leading cause of death, can take advantage of facility instrumentation and faculty expertise in population genetics in Ithaca and expertise in clinical phenotyping and access to clinical samples from WCMC in Manhattan and Qatar. The CLC also supports multi-institutional research collaborations, including investigations of neural tube defects and prostate cancer.
The CLC is part of the Cornell Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies, which is a Center for Advanced Technology in Life Science Enterprise designated by New York state.
To inform researchers about core resources available at Cornell, the CLC Web site lists its nine core facilities and links to other life sciences cores at Cornell. The Cornell online portal VIVO currently is working with core facilities so that resources and services can be cross-referenced. For example, if a researcher enters the phrase "SNP genotyping" into VIVO's search field, the results will show all core facilities that conduct SNP genotyping assays.
The CLC and the WCMC core facilities sponsored the first annual Life Sciences Research Resources Expo May 14 in Ithaca and May 15 at WCMC to give investigators a chance to meet core facility directors and to learn more about the resources and services at both campuses. The event was also an opportunity for core facility directors from both campuses to network. The expo was attended by 600 researchers and featured talks on core resources and 40 poster exhibits from 35 core facilities.
"Researchers need to know what facilities Cornell offers," said Janvilisri. "I've been at Cornell for one-and-a-half years, and I know of a few facilities related to my research. But this event helped me see what else is there and ways to deepen my work."