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UTMB President David L. Callender recently worked alongside members of the Galveston National Lab’s Assay Development Service Division (ADSD) during a recent “In Your Shoes” event.  While visiting the division, Callender used a number of state-of-the-art high-throughput robotic systems to perform a variety of screening assays.

"Dr. Callender was a great help to us during his visit to the ADSD.  I hope he not only enjoyed his visit to our lab, but that he also left with an appreciation for the capabilities we can offer to the scientific community, both in and around the GNL,” said Ron Veselenak, ADSD manager.

The ADSD develops, optimizes and uses tests to identify antimicrobial compounds that act against a variety of agents that cause human diseases, including West Nile encephalitis, H1N1 influenza (swine flu), dengue fever and hepatitis.

Using an assay developed by the ADSD, Callender screened selected antiviral compounds to determine how toxic they were to cells and how effective they were against hepatitis C virus. He also prepared a separate plate of compounds for RNA extraction and purification using one the ADSD’s automated Biosprint magnetic bead systems.

“Science and research play an important role in our mission at UTMB. The work being done at the GNL is an outstanding example of our commitment to improve human health worldwide,” said Callender. “My visit to the ADSD offered me a great hands-on experience of what it’s like to be part of the research that is so vital to accomplishing that task. It afforded me an opportunity to work side by side with a few of the many people here who are dedicated to making a difference."

Callender’s final task was to program and execute a set of instructions on UTMB’s unique Tecan robotic liquid handling system to quickly and accurately transfer selected compounds from a 96-well library plate to a screening plate for further evaluation. The Tecan system, as well as other molecular diagnostic capabilities of the ADSD, recently provided vital help to the state public health laboratory during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. ADSD members also provide training programs for local and international students.