NEI Core Grant

Cell and Tissue Culture/Immunology (CTCI) Module

The CTCI Module provides support to Vision Research Core members for production and provision of antibodies and access to specialized tissue culture facilities.  It performs spleenocyte fusions and generates monoclonal antibodies against multiple ocular-specific proteins annually.  In addition, it stores, maintains, and replenishes a large panel of antibodies against numerous ocular proteins, as well as proteins that are of general use to our research community.  The tissue culture facilities within this Module supply whole organ retina cultures as well as custom western blot services, ELISA assays and protein interaction assays with a new surface plasmon resonance instrument.  This Module also maintains long-term storage and regrowth of mammalian cell lines of interest to vision researchers.

Molecular Genetics Module (MG) Module

 The philosophy of the MG Module has been to provide those services to the UF vision community that fall broadly within the field of modern genetics at a reasonable cost and at a high level of competence.  This service has been particularly valuable in an area like genetics which advances rapidly, both conceptually and technologically.  This Module has expanded over the past 5 years to encompass a wide range of ocular analytical services for Vision Research Core members as summarized below.  Our aim has not been to underwrite all expenses associated with each technique, but rather, in an even-handed way, to encourage all Module users to determine whether a given technology will enhance their experimental program and then provide the necessary expertise and hardware to enable them to be able to employ that technology fruitfully in their research program.  Currently, partial supply, limited personnel and machine maintenance support are provided for synthetic gene design and ordering, bacterial plasmid DNA cloning, AAV vector production, and ocular vector injection.  We emphasize that support has been and will continue to be apportioned as fairly as we can (based on demand) among all Vision Research Core members.  Again, our aim is to encourage investigators to consider applying these techniques to their questions without being encumbered by prohibitively high initial expenses or a steep learning curve.  Additionally, through the existing UF Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research (ICBR), a set of modern biotechnology services are supplied to researchers that augments but does not duplicate this Module’s vision-specific role.

Structural Biology/Histology (SBH) Module

The goal of the SBH module is to provide Vision Research Core investigators with a centralized, in-house facility for the preparation of tissue, acquisition and analysis of imaging data, and documentation of results.  Major equipment includes transmission electron microscopes, light microscopes, fluorescence microscopes, a dedicated confocal microscope, cryostats and three computer graphics workstations.  The Module maintains these instruments, schedules their use and provides instruction when needed. These services assist all vision science investigators, including those who lack technical expertise and equipment for morphological analyses in their own laboratories.  Centralization of equipment eliminates unnecessary duplication of costly hardware and provides equal access to all Vision Research Core scientists.  In addition, the SBH Module provides training through staff available to teach PIs, their students and technical assistants how to optimally use the equipment and perform various morphological methodologies. The Module also provides shared facilities for sample preparation, including routine paraffin, frozen, and plastic sectioning of ocular tissue.

In-Life Ocular Analysis (IOA) Module

An important role of the IOA Module has been to make it easy for Vision Research Core members to take advantage of an array of in vivo retinal imaging modalities in their animal studies. The IOA Module provides centrally located and maintained instruments for a variety of in-life retinal imaging in mice, rats and other small mammals.  Most are located in procedure rooms within our new pathogen-free rodent facility (see floor plan above).  Some duplicate instruments are also located in our common Vision Research Core space outside the barrier facility as well (see floor plan above) so that non-SPF animals may be analyzed.  Included are multiple ERG instruments, a rodent laser station, a new rodent SD-OCT, a new rodent fundus imaging instrument, a rodent optokinetic analysis instrument, and an anterior segment imaging facility. This Module also maintains breeding records and schedules breeding for our catalogue of mouse and rat lines of retinal disease models.  This provides investigators with rapid access to new rodent lines of interest and also serves as a back-up for currently used lines in individual labs. Each instrument service is located in permanent, dedicated common space readily accessible by all Vision Research Core members (see below).  The imaging modalities provided by the IOA Module are often critical for a particular experimental problem and each allows detailed in-life ocular imaging of rodents for serial analysis, often avoiding terminal procedures and thus allowing the use of fewer animals to achieve the same experimental goal.