Although the BBRC has been in existence since 1992, the core facilities did not become fully operational until 1993 after space was renovated to establish these facilities. Over the years, the research focus of the cores changed as a function of faculty research interest, becoming the Cytometry, Screening and Imaging, the Biomolecule Analysis Core, the Genomic Analysis Core, and the Data Analytics Lab (formerly Statistical Consulting Laboratory) along with a Bioinformatics section. The majority of the core facilities were relocated in 2007 to a new Biosciences Research Building (BRB), which was specifically designed to house these cores and also serves as home to the majority of the biomedical researchers on campus. As a consequence of this move, the cores grew in size, staff, equipment, and user base.
The overarching goal of the RIC is to enhance investigator research capabilities and support the proposed projects, pilot projects, and other institutional biomedical, clinical and behavioral researchers and their regional and external collaborators.
The BBRC Research Infrastructure Core (RIC) facility will provide principal investigators, students and staff access to state-of-the-art equipment to achieve the goals of their proposed research projects. The BBRC has established several core facilities over the past 25 years that provide essential support for the research of the majority of biomedical researchers at UTEP and the border region
Cellular Characterization and Biorepository (CCB) Unit. The CCB unit led by Dr. Renato Aguilera, Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who has extensive experience immunology, cancer research, molecular and cellular biology, and drug screening. The CCB is divided into two sections; one for cell culture and the other containing imaging, cytometry and drug screening equipment. The cell culture portion of the facility has six fully equipped enclosed rooms that are self-sufficient. The core provides access to equipment under the supervision of well-trained and dedicated staff, who have been cross-trained on all instruments to ensure efficiency. The CCB staff trains students and staff on techniques ranging from confocal microscopy to basic aseptic cell culture. The RIC has established individual cost-centers managed by the College of Science Business Center for cost recovery. The fees for services provided by the CCB staff and the Standard Operating Procedures for this and all units of the core are available at the BBRC’s website: https://www.utep.edu/science/bbrc/.
The CCB unit has expanded the comprehensive cancer tissue biorepository and work closely with the Clinical Research faculty to facilitate collaborative cancer research locally, nationally, and internationally.
Biomolecule Analysis and Omics (BAO) Unit. The proteomics function of this unit is housed in the Biosciences Research Building and is led by Dr. Igor Almeida, Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who has expertise in immunoglycobiology. The purpose of this unit is to provide users with access to well-maintained, cutting edge equipment for purification and structural and functional analyses of biomolecules from different sources. The unit is staffed by highly trained with specialists, who work closely with researchers to perform proteomic analysis of cancer samples.
The genomic analysis section of the BAO unit resides within the 3rd floor of the Biomedical Research Building and is equipped to perform sequencing of entire genomes or exomes, analysis of transcriptomes or epigenomes, and identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms, such as those involved in certain cancers. The Genomic unit also provides technical support and works closely with the Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Unit (BBU) to analyze large datasets generated by genomic and transcriptomic analyses.
Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Unit (BBU). The Bioinformatics section of the (BBU) is led by Dr. Ming-Ying Leung, professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and the director of the UTEP Bioinformatics and Computational Science programs. She is focused on developing statistical models and computational algorithms for bioinformatics analysis of biomolecular sequence data. The Bioinformatics section is located in the Mathematical Sciences Department building. The services provided by the bioinformatics group include: creation and management of electronic databases and data repositories, analyses of genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics data, and developing customized pipelines to automate multi-step bioinformatics workflow.
The Biostatistics section of the BBU is led by Dr. Amy Wagler, Professor of Mathematical Sciences and director of the Data Science Ph.D. program, who has a background in statistical methodologies focused on generalized linear models (GLM), generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) and latent variable models. Through the Data Analytics Lab, the Biostatistics section provides consulting to BBRC researchers and is a regional resource for statistical, mathematical and data analytics support in the basic sciences, health sciences, education and medical research. The Biostatistics section has also fostered collaborations with other local institutions such as William Beaumont Army Medical Center and Texas Tech University Health Science Center.
INVESTIGATORS: The directors of each unit have extensive expertise in their specialized areas of research and the instrumentation/applications of the cores they direct.
Dr. Aguilera has been the Director of the CCB and BBRC Program/Deputy Director (Fig. 1). Dr. Aguilera will serve as the RIC Leader.
Drs. Almeida and Aguilera have directed their cores (now merged into the BAO unit).
Dr. Leung has been the Director of Bioinformatics Core and will continue in her role.
Dr. Wagler is the Director of the Statistical Consulting Laboratory (SCL) since 2017 and will serve as a BBU co-director. She has consulted with many BBRC members over the past decade.
The RIC Directors are assisted by highly skilled and trained technical staff that perform the day-to-day operations of the respective units. The Directors participate in the initial consultation of new projects and assist faculty in the generation of preliminary data for grant submissions and guide faculty and staff to the appropriate campus/RCMI Research Coordination Network (RRCN) resources.