Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core

ihsfc

The Center for Environmental Toxicology (CET) Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC) is designed to support human research in the Center.  It is the entity that permits the CET to realize its strategic goals in translational environmental health research that will impact individuals, communities, and the public at large.  The IHSFC supports individual investigator-initiated as well as collaborative team science efforts among basic scientists and clinical researchers, using the Collaborative Research Teams and community engagement experts, and/or public health practitioners.  The specific aims of the IHSFC are to:

•   Provide services and access to instrumentation and technologies (Analytical Diagnostics) that foster integration of basic and translational science initiatives.

•   Support research to develop exposure and effect biomarkers, and improve early detection, prevention, and/or therapeutic strategies for environmentally–related disorders (Biomarkers).

•   Enhance partnerships between researchers and community stakeholder organizations to conduct Community-Based Research that informs basic and translational research in the environmental health sciences (Community-Based Research)

Community-Based Research Facility

The CET has a demonstrated track record of carrying out community-based research (CBR) and community-based participatory research (CBPR).  Community-based research facility works in close collaboration with the Biomarker and Analytical Diagnostics facility for assay development and sample diagnostics.  The CBR facility also collaborates closely with the Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) to facilitate research partnerships and to disseminate environmental health information and research findings between the scientist and the community stakeholders.  Establishment of the CBR facility as a central component of the IHSFC aligns the CET with ongoing translational science endeavors, community needs, and NIEHS priorities.  The IHSFC streamlines processes necessary to establish and conduct population-based studies, clinical research, human exposure assessments, and biomarker development research.  It also provides investigators with direct assistance with epidemiologic study design and methods, preparation of human subjects’ protection and clinical protocols, research navigation, and access to a unique resource—the Mobile Clinical Research Unit—to enable human subjects research in the field.  The objectives of the CBR facility are to:

  • Facilitate interdisciplinary research by serving as liaison between CET basic science investigators, epidemiologists, clinician scientists, and health and public health practitioners to accelerate the understanding of environmental exposures on human health

  • Provide the infrastructure, facilities, education, and support to enable Center investigators and Pilot Project holders to initiate and carry out community-based and CBPR projects

  • Develop the research infrastructure to rapidly respond to emergent environmental threats to determine impact upon human health

  • Ensure CET is responsive to community priorities through significant multi-directional communication and partnership with the COEC to engage stakeholders in dialog about environmental health impacts and to inform and prime Center science

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Resources:  The CET acquied a Mobile Clinical Research Unit (MCRU) in 2013 to address a pressing need to facilitate human health field research in the absence of adequate clinical research space.  The CET acquired a Recreational Vehicle and retrofitted it to include a phlebotomy lab that satisfies clinical laboratory facility regulations (CLIA compliant), including a regulation phlebotomy chair, countertop space sufficient for a mounted centrifuge to process drawn blood, fully functional freezer for storage of samples, multiple locking storage units for caching of supplies, and a full sized restroom for collection of urine samples, and a private clinical space complete with an examination table for physical assessments of research subjects.  A propane unit provides hot water for hand-washing and clean-up activities.  The MCRU provides facilities, equipment, and staff resources to support a variety of clinical studies at remote research sites.  Through a single point of contact (Brittany Wallace, COEC Corrdinator), investigators may request use of MCRU, equipment and staff resources to support clinical research.  The cost of the MCRU for CET members is subsidized through the Discount Management Program.

The Biomarker and Analytical Diagnostics facility was established in 2006 to provide high-quality, cost-effective analysis of peptides and small molecules, and development of biomarkers of exposure and effect related to disease and prevention.  The objectives of the facility are to provide consultation and technical support, as well as training for the development of analytical methods to identify and quantify biomarkers using mass spectrometric and nuclear magnetic resonance capabilities.  The facility works closely with the UTMB Bioinformatics Program to expedite the analyses of large data sets generated for the metabolic profiling.

Resources: The facility occupies a 1400 sq. ft. room on the third floor of the Basic Science Building.  Instrumentation include a Micromass Q-Tof APCI-US LC-MS interfaced with an Alliance HT LC system, a Micromass GCT GC-TOF MS interfaced with an Agilent 6890 GC, an Agilent 5975C inert XL EI/CI MSD with Triple Axis detector interfaced with an Agilent 7693 GC, two Agilent 6490 Triple Quad LC-MS interfaced with an Agilent 1260 Infinity LC system, and a Bruker Daltronics autoflex MALDI-TOF MS.  Other mass spectrometers in the department include a Thermo Q-Exactive, a Thermo Velos Pro linear ion trap, a Thermo Orbitrap Elite hybrid mass spectrometer, a ThermoFisher TSQ Vantage Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer, and a Bruker 12T FT-ICR MS, and a Bruker 300MHz NMR.  These instruments provide a complete range of analytical capabilities for both small molecules and peptides, in both negative and positive ion modes.


 
Lawrence Sowers, PhD
Director, Integrative Health Science Facility Core
lasowers@utmb.edu
(409) 772-9647