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Shared Resources & Cores

Animal Facility

Resource Leader –Doris Hughes-Moore, D.V.M.-202-806-6293, dhughes@howard.edu

The Cancer Center utilizes the Animal Facility shared resource that is housed in the College of Medicine. The Howard University Veterinary Services is an accredited independent laboratory an animal facility with the responsibility for providing professional animal care and technical services for University biomedical research. and animal care program are fully accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC) and meet Federal guidelines and regulations for the humane care and use of laboratory animals.

Biobehavioral Core Laboratory

Core Leader: Teletia Taylor, Ph.D.; 202 806-4199; t_r_taylor@howard.edu

The Biobehavioral Core Laboratory houses the facilities for clinical exercise physiology and psycho-physiological research. The Clinical Exercise Physiology Research facility is equipped with a Cosmed Quark b2 metabolic cart and Cosmed electrocardiogram (ECG) equipment that is programmed into a Burdick Treadmill. This is used for performing graded exercise tests to assess risk for cardiovascular disease and functional work capacity training. An Ergoline 500 medical ergometer is used for exercise testing when a cycle ergometer is needed. In addition, the laboratory has 3 other treadmills that are used exercise intervention training programs. The Psychophysiology component consists of 3 computers (Dell Desktop Pentium 4, Gateway Pentium 4, and Toshiba Portege Tablet PC Pentium III). One desktop is used for data acquisition, one for data analysis and the third for internet usage. There is a surveillance camera (Security Labs) that is used to monitor participants as they take part in study tasks. To collect impedance cardiograph data, the HIC-2002 Impedance Cardiograph is used along with the COP –Win 5.10 USB version cardiac output program for windows. This equipment is designed to measure a variety of cardiovascular measures (heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output, pre-ejection period, left ventricular ejection time, total ejection period, and heather index). The Dinamap Vital Signs Monitor (Model 1846 SX) is used to assess systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Lastly, a number of psychological tasks are also included in the lab such as the Automatic Mirror Tracer (Model 5403), the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (3 rd Edition Form IIIA and Form IIIB) and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task for Windows.

Molecular Imaging Laboratory

Core Leader: Paul Wang, Ph.D; (202) 865-3711, pwang@howard.edu

The mission of Molecular Imaging Laboratory in the Department of Radiology is to support sustainable long-term imaging research at Howard University. The Molecular Imaging Laboratory promotes multidisciplinary applications of modern imaging technologies to study pathophysiological and disease processes at the molecular, cellular, and whole animal levels.

To per­form its mission, the Molecular Imaging Lab provides scientific expertise, and state-of-the-art modern imaging equipment to support campus wide biomedical research activities. Under the Molecular Imaging Laboratory there are three subunits: in vivo imaging, molecular biology, and chemical probe design.

The in vivo imaging unit provides expertise in imaging experiment design, and offers high resolution and high sensitivity MRI, optical imaging, and multi-photon confocal microscopy imaging services. The molecular biology unit provides expertise and services in: development of efficient organ and intracellular target­ing and amplification strategies, as well as in developing strategies for identifying suitable biomarkers, or imaginable gene products.

The probe design unit provides assistance to develop nanoparticles with ligands to transfect cells with bioluminescent or fluorescent markers, targeted to specific receptors, proteins or biochemical pathways for in vitro and in vivo studies.

The lab has two NMR machines (a Bruker 400 MHz 89mm and a Varian 200 MHz horizontal bore machines) for small animal imaging and in vivo NMR spectroscopy studies, an optical imaging machine (Xenogen IVIS200) for in vivo fluorescent and luminescent imaging, and a multi-photon confocal microscope for live cell imaging.

The Molecular Imaging Laboratory provides a broader training experience for students and faculty in imaging through methodology-centered mini-courses, workshops, seminars, and internships. It offers multidisciplinary research opportunities in molecular imaging field. (http://www.howard.edu/medicine/radiology/mil/)

Clinical Protocol & Data Management Core

Core Leader: Evelyn Smith-Owusu, RN, (202) 865-4052; esmith-owusu@howard.edu
Regulatory: Theresa Vaughn, 202 806-7037, tvaughn@howard.edu

Our goal is to facilitate the implementation, conduct, and quality assurance monitoring of clinical trials. We support cancer control, chemoprevention, and treatment clinical trials. The treatment trials are primarily Phase III trials from the Minority Based Community Clinical Oncology Program. The key responsibilities of the Core are: (1) recruitment; (2) enrollment; (3) data management; (4) compliance; (5) patient adherence; and (6) follow up. The Core’s responsibility also includes addressing the regulatory issues associated with clinical trials.

cDNA Micro array (MOU w/ Johns Hopkins)

Director: Edward Gabrielson, M.D., 410-502-5250
Core Manager: Wayne Yu

Howard University Cancer Center members have established a Memorandum ofUnderstanding with Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins’ cDNA Microarry Core. The cDNA MicroArray core provides chips of cDNA clines (PCR product) from humans, mice, and rats and cDNA oligo chips from mice.

  • Human 12k from Research Genetics
  • Human 20k from Research Genetics
  • Mouse 15k from NIA
  • Mouse 8k Oligo from Compugen
  • Rat 8k from TIGR
  • Tubercolosis genomic/cDNA chips from collaboration

Howard University Cancer Center members utilize the cDNA MicroArray Core at the same rates as the Johns Hopkins members .

Common Equipment Core

Resource Leader – Marc Britton, 202 806-7697, jbritton@howard.edu

The common equipment core includes expensive equipment that is to be shared by members of the Cancer Center including ultracentrifuges, scintillation counters, autoclaves, and freezers. The Shared Resource is responsible for overseeing all repairs and maintenance of the equipment. In addition, the Resource maintains an inventory of common equipment to ensure availability to all members of the Cancer Center. The resource also determines the best maintenance agreements for equipment such as freezers, balances, and centrifuges. Centralized decontamination and autoclaving services are provided for investigators.

A Realtime PCR machine is available to researchers that enable the investigators to quantitate levels of mRNA expression in extremely small cell samples. The Imaging facility serves to facilitate the collection and analysis of autoradiography data. The phosphoimager also has chemiluminescence and fluorescence capabilities. The phosphoimager, computer, software, and hardware are available for analysis and presentation of collected data.

Community Outreach Core

Community Outreach CORE - Director: Carla Williams, PhD
Associate Director: Cherie Spencer, MS, MCHES

The Howard University Cancer Center (HUCC) has a shared resource for community outreach and education known as the CORE: Community Outreach for Research Excellence.  The objective of the CORE is to create and support relationships with local community organizations to educate, empower, and engage local communities to overcome barriers to care and bring evidence-based cancer interventions to medically underserved communities.  The CORE program addresses disparities in cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship among underserved populations in the DC Metropolitan Area.

Figure 1. Three Pillars of COmmunity Outreach to Reduce Health Disparities

The CORE uses three foundational pillars of community outreach:  Education, Empowerment, & Engagement (see Figure 1).  Evidence-based, culturally- tailored educational programming is used to educate the local community about cancer risk, prevention, early detection and treatment.   Educational programs implemented through the CORE focus on personal empowerment by improving individual self-efficacy for prevention, early detection, and active participation in treatment.  The CORE also seeks to empower the community by building capacity for informed decision-making and community advocacy for health issues.  The CORE program also helps to directly engage the community in HUCC programs including cancer screening, patient navigation, clinical care, research, and training programs.

The CORE houses master's level community health educators who provide extensive community-based education services.  In addition to CORE health educators, we partner with local community organizations to conduct outreach activities and facilitate integration of cancer health education resources into local culturally and linguistically diverse populations. 

The CORE also works closely with investigators to design plans for research study participant recruitment and retention that will most effectively reach the target population described in the study design. The CORE members will assist HUCC investigators in the identification, planning and implementation of recruitment strategies and provide input on the study design to determine feasibility of recruitment for a particular study. The CORE will employ a variety of techniques best matched to the type of study. Both proactive and reactive methods of recruitment will be employed.  Services available through the CORE include:

  • Create and maintain a database of potential participants for HUCC research studies
  • Identify and maintain partnerships to assist in recruitment
  • Develop a plan for ongoing contact and follow up with participants to ensure retention in research studies
  • Provide ongoing community education and outreach to increase the overall acceptance of research study participation among potential study participants.

The CORE also supports development of community research partnerships that will meaningfully and equitably engage the community in cancer research.  The CORE has the capacity to conduct training for community investigators and facilitate development of research teams.  Working with regional and national resources, the CORE will provide access to evidence-based information on community research engagement, building research capacity, and dissemination of research that favorably impacts health, especially among medically underserved populations.

Core Services

Proposal Development

  • Recruitment and retention planning
  • Community partnership development and letters of support
  • Development of tailored recruitment materials and strategies

Community Engagement

  • Health education seminars
  • Health fairs
  • Health screening events

Research Implementation

  • Community outreach
  • Recruitment tracking
  • Community research education programs
  • Community-based dissemination

To submit a request for cost proposal, please provide the following documents

  • Cover sheet including
    • Investigator information
      • Name
      • Phone number
      • Email address
      • Mailing address
      • Fax number
    • Project coordinator information (if applicable)
      • Name
      • Phone number
      • Email address
      • Mailing address
      • Fax number
    • Brief (one paragraph) description of services requested
  • Copy of proposal or abstract (as appropriate)

Please submit the cost proposal to:
Ms. Cherie Spencer
c_spencer@howard.edu

Also please send two additional copies to Ms. Spencer's attention at the following address:

Howard University Cancer Center
2041 Georgia Avenue
Room 220
Washington, DC 20060

Flow Cytometry Core

Core Leader: Xinbin Gu, M.D., Ph.D.; 202 806-0300; xgu@howard.edu
Yanfei Zhou, Ph.D; 202 806-0345; yzhou@howard.edu

The goals of this Core Facility are to provide flow cytometry services for Howard University’s research investigators, and develop new applications. The core facility has one Becton Facscalibur Dickinson FCB4S.This two laser, 6 parameter, 4 color instrument provides both clinical research and basic research services, but is also available for use by research investigators.  The flow cytometry is also equipped with CELLQUESTpro and Modifit. Cellquestpro is both data acquisition and analysis program operates in the Macintosh environment. Modfit is designed to analyze DNA histograms and it has advanced capabilities for aiding the user in handling background, aggregates and debris. The following services are provided by this Core facility: (1) User Access to Flow Cytometry Equipment (make sure trained); (2) Analysis of User-Prepared Samples by Staff; (3) Sorting (separation) of Sub-populations of Cells; (4) Graphical and Statistical Analysis of Flow Cytometry Data; (5) Archiving of Flow Cytometry Data Files; (6) Presentation Graphics from Flow Cytometry Data; (7) Training in Instrument Operation; (7) Consultation in Assay Design. A consultation is required before initiating any new projects. The fee schedule is detailed below.

Molecular Genetics Core

Core Leader: Georgia M. Dunston, Ph.D.; (202) 806-7372 gdunston@howard.edu

The Molecular Genetics Core facility is approximately 7,500 square feet. There are two large laboratories (~1500 sq. ft. each), a DNA sequencing and genotyping room (~800 sq. ft.), two cold rooms, dark room, and a walk-in freezer. The laboratory space is equipped with benches, tables, sinks, distilled water, fume hoods and separate areas for tissue culture, PCR, and radioisotope use.  Four Pentium III NT Workstations (400-500 MHz) and four Power Macintosh G4's provide the computational hardware for the Molecular Genetics laboratory. The eight computers are networked together via the Genome Center NT server with the 5 computers operating three ABI 377 DNA sequencers and two DNA Wave Machines in addition to the computers used by the Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics units. The molecular genetics laboratory contains all the standard equipment necessary for large-scale, high throughput molecular analysis of DNA variation. These items include centrifuges, water baths, gel electrophoresis apparatus, pipettes, glassware, balances, etc. The laboratory also has two Transgenomics DNA Wave machines for SNP detection using dHPLC. The genotyping room contains three ABI 377 automated sequencers, ten Perkin Elmer 9700 thermocyclers, and the PSQ 96 Pyrosequencing platform for SNP genotyping.   Molecular genetics laboratory space on the 5th floor of the Cancer Center contains two ABI 373 automated sequencers. The immunogenetics core research laboratory, also on the 5 th floor of the cancer center, provides approximately 800 sq ft of additional laboratory space for molecular genetics work. The Genome Center also contains functional assays, mutation detection, and positional cloning, and a separate tissue culture facility for extraction of DNA from blood samples and EBV cell transformation. Also available are industrial freezers, refrigerators, centrifuges and a dark room, and an electron microscope.

Tissue Repository Core

Tammy Naab, M.D., tnaab@howard.edu; 202 806-6306

The repository is responsible for tissue collection, storage, data management as well as conducting prognostic indicators and diagnostics. The collection of specimens from patients undergoing surgical procedures at Howard University Hospital is being conducted through a collaboration of the Surgery and the Pathology Departments. A database with the specimens de-identified has also been created. The collected specimens are from a variety of tissue sites including breast, colon, rectum, stomach, ovary and liver.

Normal and malignant and benign tumor-containing tissue is collected from primary tumors in a variety of sites. The organ/gross specimen is transported to the surgical pathology suite by the operating room nurse or house staff. Dr. Naab or an assigned senior pathology resident and the technician assigned to the acquisition of tissue for the tissue repository is then paged. Within one hour of arrival, the specimen will be opened in a sterile manner. The amount of tumor is then assessed. If remnant tumor tissue is available, it will be harvested in a sterile manner using a disposable scalpel on a sterile chux. If possible, three 5 mm cubes of tissue should be harvested and placed in a sterile centrifuge tube which has been marked, using an indelible marker, with an assigned number which includes the date and an abbreviation of the site, e.g. 101306BT1. Three 5 mm cube of grossly normal tissue should be harvested which should be located ideally 2 or more cm from the tumor mass. A frozen section will be prepared from tumor tissue immediately adjacent to the cube of tumor tissue harvested in order to confirm the presence of malignancy. When grossly recognizable malignancy is evident in regional lymph nodes, a cube from an involved node will also be harvested in a sterile manner. Fresh scalpel blades will be used for each specimen in order to avoid cross contamination. When insufficient tissue is available for submission, a scraping of the malignancy should be made and transferred to a sterile tube. The tubes containing the tissue samples or scrapings will be labeled and capped. The samples will then be snap frozen in the dewar containing liquid nitrogen which has been brought by the technician. The primary source of liquid nitrogen will be available in Howard University Cancer Center. The technician will then retrieve the tubes after one minute and will transport the specimens to the Howard University Cancer Center in a closed styrofoam container. The samples will be temporarily placed in an ultraslow temperature (-170 degree Centigrade) freezer housed in the Howard University Cancer Center. Data bases linking the samples and the exact patient demographics are maintained in a password protected file housed in the Howard University Cancer Center and the Department of Pathology. The long term storage of the samples has not been established but evaluations of various facilities are ongoing.