Microscale Life Sciences Center - An NIH Center of Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS)

Microscale Life Sciences Center

The MLSC comprises the combined research expertise of leading researchers in their respective fields from Arizona State University, University of Washington, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Brandeis University.

Welcome to the Microscale Life Sciences Center

The Microscale Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Center of Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS). The MLSC is one of the first three CEGS funded by the NHGRI in 2001, and was renewed for a second five-year period in September, 2006. The MLSC comprises the combined research expertise of leading researchers in their respective fields from Arizona State University, the University of Washington, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Brandeis University.

Research Mission Statement

Understanding, predicting and diagnosing disease states is confounded by the inherent heterogeneity of in situ cell populations. The Microscale Life Sciences Center is focused on solving this problem by developing microscale technologies for single-cell genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and physiological analyses, and applying that technology to fundamental problems of biology and health.

Minority Outreach Mission Statement

The GenOM Project at the University of Washington aims to reverse a trend of decreasing underrepresented minority enrollment in Ph.D. graduate programs by recruiting minority students into genomics research careers. To achieve the goals of enhanced recruitment, retention and training, this comprehensive program has generated a suite of tools and research activities that range across grade levels and support services. Ambitious in nature and broad in scope, the GeNOM programs target pre-college, undergraduate and graduate students while offering educational tools, research opportunities and financial support. Tools that we have already generated include genetics curriculum and teacher support services for grade school and middle school classrooms; pre-college and undergraduate research opportunities with summer exchange programs and financial support; and graduate school advising assistance and graduate research opportunities in labs at the University of Washington. For more information about any of these programs, or if you have questions, please follow the link or contact the GeNOM program coordinator, Lisa Peterson.

Goals of the MLSC

The MLSC is developing microscale instrument modules to measure multiple parameters in single living cells to correlate cellular events with genomic information like genomic rearrangements and gene expression levels. These modules provide a low-cost, flexible, reconfigurable benchtop toolbox with state-of-the-art detection and analysis features to enable scientists to pursue and solve scientific questions that require analysis of heterogeneous cell populations. The microsystem modules are used for real-time measurement of metabolic and other phenotypes, and for quantitative gene expression analysis as a function of environmental and cell-to-cell interactions. We have developed microsystems with multiple micro-optical sensors, environmental control and cell manipulation capability. To ensure broad applicability, we have performed experiments on a system of immortalized cell lines representing the progression to esophageal cancer, macrophages, T-cells and bacteria. Current capabilities in live cells include measurement of substrate-dependent oxygen consumption rates and measurement of expression from multiple genes using fluorescent reporters. In fixed cells we have developed protocols for single-cell qPCR and RT-qPCR on multiple genes simultaneously and for generating single-cell proteomics profiles.

As we develop our technological capabilities, we are focusing the technology on a set of interconnected questions about the links between in situ cell population heterogeneity, genomes, gene expression, phenotypes and health. These interrelated challenges all have the common theme of pathways to cell damage and cell death including pro-inflammatory cell death (pyroptosis), programmed cell death (apoptosis), and avoidance of cell death (neoplastic progression). Cancer and the cardiovascular diseases are among those impacted by our research.

Project Affiliations:

Arizona State University

University of Washington

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Brandeis University

Project Funded By:

National Institutes of Health