ACTSI Facilitates Collaborative Relationship between Emory & UAB

The Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute’s (ACTSI) Research Technologies program developed a collaborative relationship with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to consolidate some of the duplicative core services provided by each university. The first core service to be consolidated was the Transgenic Mouse & Gene Targeting Core. This core acts to provide both state of the art equipment and expertise for the generation and characterization of genetically altered mouse models. The core provides a full range of services in three major categories:  Transgenic Production, Gene Targeting, and Auxiliary Services. 

“Efforts to support research programs for investigators, foster beneficial collaborations, and optimize available resources are needed to meet the challenges in conducting translational research,” said Carolyn Meltzer, MD, Director, Research Technologies, ACTSI, William P. Timmie Professor and Chair of Radiology, and Associate Dean for Research, Emory University School of Medicine. “While this collaboration allows for cost-saving measures, the investigators at each institution will also benefit from continued access to cutting-edge technologies.”

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was executed between Emory and UAB to establish collaborative interactions that will allow a consolidation of some of the overlapping services provided at their transgenic mouse core facilities. “The relationship fostered by UAB and the ACTSI expands the research expertise and services offered to investigators at both institutions, while also allowing cost savings by reducing overhead associated with providing similar services that require considerable institutional investment to maintain,” said Bob Kesterson, PhD, Professor of Genetics, Director, Transgenic & Genetically Engineered Models (TGEMS), and Chair, Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC), University of Alabama at Birmingham. “UAB investigators have access to an established Emory core that can provide services to create human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, a rapidly emerging technology for research in many areas, while Emory investigators have access to services to create genetically modified mice using gene targeting strategies in embryonic stem cells.”

Services Provided by Both Emory and UAB:

  • Microinjection services (pronuclear and blastocyst)
  • Reproductive & cryopreservation services
  • Routine mouse husbandry / genetic models management (at Emory handled by the Division of Animal Resources)

Unique Services Provided by Emory:

  • DNA vector construction via DNA Custom Cloning Core Facility
  • Screening of ES cells and/or mouse DNA by Southern blotting
  • iPS cell validation through tetratoma formation assays
  • ES cell chromosomal spread analyses

Unique Services Provided by UAB:

  • ES cell gene targeting (culture, electroporation, clone picking, PCR screening, freezing and maintenance, etc. in C57BL/6)
  • Genotyping and screening by PCR
  • ROSA26 gene targeting to create conditional expression alleles
  • Nuclease-based gene targeting design (TALENs, CRISPR/Cas9)

“The Emory/UAB pipeline is ideal for investigators needing targeted mouse models because this university partnership provides investigators more complete service – the targeting is performed and validated at UAB, and the mouse is made locally. This eliminates the need for quarantine and provides the best service and technology available in the region,” said Tamara Caspary, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Human Genetics and director, Transgenic Mouse & Gene Targeting Core, Emory University. “Furthermore, constructs for UAB investigators can be made at Yerkes’ DNA Custom Cloning Core and the mouse models made at UAB.”

The MOU also allows investigators and home institutions to retain all patent, invention, or other intellectual property rights. Investigators needing  a transgenic mouse model should contact the core director at their home institution – Emory or UAB – and request services related to their research projects. Through consultation with the core directors, referrals are then made to the appropriate institutional core.  

The ACTSI’s Research Technologies program is also exploring other potential collaborative opportunities with UAB in Genomics and Biostatistics. Stay Tuned.