Facility Sponsors

National Cancer Institute

Swanson Biotechnology Center

The Koch Institute features 13 core facilities that provide key technical services to our faculty. From routine (though essential) support services to advanced technical and consulting services, these cores facilitate and enhance the important research being conducted on a daily basis. Many of the facilities also offer training programs that enable Koch Institute staff, students, and postdoctoral fellows to acquire the additional technical and intellectual expertise needed to advance both their work and their careers.

The costs of many of these cores are partially defrayed by funds from a number of sources, most notably a Cancer Center Support Grant from the NCI to the KI. In recognition of this support, priority access is given to KI members, NCI-funded research projects and other contributing user groups. However, the KI is strongly committed to enabling biomedical research at MIT. Thus, to the extent permitted by available capacity, a number of the cores are accessible to the broader MIT community. See individual cores for details about access, user policies and service rates.

Learn about the people and projects at work by visiting the SBC Focus website


Animal Imaging & Preclinical Testing

The Animal Imaging & Preclinical Testing Core Facility provides access to instrumentation for in vivo, whole animal imaging, including bioluminescence, microCT, ultrasound and small animal MRI technologies. The Facility accelerates the process of moving scientific breakthroughs from the benchtops of the Koch Institute to the clinics for cancer patients, supporting these translational efforts through the use of refined mouse models of human cancers to test:

  • biosensors for tumor detection and monitoring
  • diagnostic assays
  • cancer vaccines
  • drug delivery systems and tumor-targeting modalities
  • chemotherapeutic response and drug resistance

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Bioinformatics & Computing

The Barbara K. Ostrom (1978) Bioinformatics & Computing Core Facility provides Koch Institute researchers with assistance and training in a wide range of bioinformatics related topics. Examples include assistance with experimental design and subsequent analysis of next-generation sequencing (Illumina platform) and microarray experiments, genome annotation projects and other sequence and phylogenetic analysis applications. The Core also provides Koch Institute members with critical data backup as well as installation and maintenance of desktop hardware and a variety of software, including scientific applications.

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Biopolymers & Proteomics

The Biopolymers & Proteomics Core Facility provides MIT researchers with integrated synthetic and analytical capabilities for biological materials, including proteins, small molecules, and nanoparticles. The Core encompasses a wide range of sophisticated technical expertise and state-of-the-art instrumentation.

Overview of services

  • peptide synthesis and purification, including peptide arrays
  • mass spectrometry-based proteomics approaches for identification, characterization, or quantitation of proteins from simple to complex mixtures
  • mass spectrometry-based mass measurement and mass mapping
  • mass spectrometry-based metabolite quantitation
  • high-pressure liquid chromatographic analysis and purification

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ES Cell & Transgenics

This shared resource of the Koch Institute provides support to all MIT investigators who utilize novel mouse models to study human diseases such as cancer. The Mouse ES Cell & Transgenics Core Facility specializes in assisting researchers with the design, generation, maintenance, and analysis of mice containing designer mutations. We also provide skilled assistance with a variety of protocols utilizing mouse ES cells (establishment of new lines, differentiation into specific cell types).

Overview of services

  • Customized project design, including assistance with targeting design and analysis
  • Gene targeting in ES cells
  • Gene targeting using CRISPR/Cas9 technology
  • Injection of DNA, RNA, ES cells, or virus into pre-implantation mouse embryos
  • Culture of ES cells, including derivation of germline-competent ES lines from existing mouse colonies
  • ES Cell karyoptyping
  • Mice containing tissue-specific Cre, FLP, or reporter genes as well control and wildtype strains
  • Assistance, training, and reagents for ES cell, embryo and mouse analysis
  • Detailed methods for protocols used with mouse/ES cell studies

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Flow Cytometry

The Flow Cytometry Core Facility provides high-speed cell sorting services as well as access, training, and support in the use of bench-top analysis flow cytometers. more >>

Genomics (including High Throughput Screening)

The Genomics Core Facility is a shared institutional resource providing investigators with integrated and comprehensive services in genome-wide analyses including:

  • massively parallel sequencing using the Illumina platform (both library preparation and sequencing)
  • chromatin-IP handling
  • array processing on Affymetrix and Agilent platforms
  • real-time PCR and bioanalyzer services

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The Core also encompasses a high throughput screening suite with state-of-the-art automated screening instrumentation and an expert staff to assist KI researchers in developing experimental assays into high throughput screening strategies. Facility resources include liquid handling robotic systems, high content imaging capabilities, and growing collections of cancer-relevant RNAi and small molecules, as well as expert consultation for assay development and automation. The Facility features multiple Tecan Evo liquid handlers, plate readers, and a confocal screening microscope. more >>

Glassware Preparation

The Glassware Preparation Core Facility provides centralized services to internal Koch Institute member laboratories, with the primary goal of supplying sterile glassware at an exceptionally high, tissue culture-grade standard. more >>

Histology

The Hope Babette Tang (1983) Histology Core Facility assists investigators in producing quality histological slides from frozen, paraffin-embedded, and resin-embedded tissues, thus enabling investigators to better evaluate the pathologic consequences of various mutations or treatments. Services include state-of-the art technical assistance and training in tissue sectioning, slide preparation and analysis, including automated immunohistochemistry and special staining, as well as access to expert pathology consultation. more >>

Media Preparation

The Media Preparation Core Facility provides internal Koch Institute member laboratories with a variety of high-quality custom-made bacterial, yeast, and tissue culture media. more >>

Microscopy

The Microscopy Core Facility is a centralized facility housing state-of-the art imaging equipment, with a complete range of image acquisition and data analysis capabilities. Expert experimental advice, instrument training and access, and fee-based technical service are available for multiple imaging platforms:

  • Multiphoton intravital imaging of cells, tissues, animals and microfluidic devices
  • Scanning (spectral and resonant) confocal microscopy
  • Scanning confocal deep tissue imaging and bioluminescence-based microscopy
  • Spinning disk confocal microscopy for imaging live cells, tissue and microfluidic devices
  • TIRF microscopy for imaging live cells and nanostructures
  • Photokinetics-based microscopy (FRAP, FLIP, photo-conversion)
  • High-resolution fluorescent deconvolution microscopy
  • Super-resolution microscopy for imaging cells, thin tissues, and nanomaterials
  • Light and epifluorescence microscopy
  • Image processing workstations
  • Laser capture microdissection
  • Electron microscopy
  • Spectral karyotyping

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Nanotechnology Materials

This Core provides support for new materials discovery and optimization, enabling development of drug- and gene-delivery vehicles, imaging, nano- and microparticles, and devices. Services include technical assistance and training in state-of-the-art imaging capabilities and instrumentation for physical and chemical analysis including:

  • High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  • Scanning TEM with energy electron loss and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy
  • Cryo-TEM
  • Cryo-plunge EM sample preparation
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Dynamic light scattering (DLS) to measure particle size, stability and aggregation
  • Rheometry to measure the flow properties of soft matter
  • Nucleic acid-dedicated HPLC for analysis and purification of conjugated nanoparticles
  • HPLC dedicated to support of HPLC-intensive projects

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Shared Research Resources

The Shared Research Resources Core Facility oversees maintenance of shared research spaces (cold rooms, warm rooms, tissue culture rooms and darkrooms) and distributed equipment (autoclaves, ice machines, X-ray film developers, etc). The Core also coordinates implementation of the MIT Environment, Health & Safety management system (EHS-MS) by providing safety inspections, laboratory safety, staff training and hazardous waste management. Finally, the Core oversees dedicated KI research spaces developed to provide oversight of, and enable safe working practices with high-risk isotopes, and the cesium γ-cell radiation source. Access is reserved for KI members.

Zebrafish

The Zebrafish Core Facility supports researchers in the use of zebrafish as a model organism by providing expert experimental support as well as the expertise, aquatic systems and other infrastructure for maintaining a healthy breeding colony.  The facility offers to meet many needs, ranging from experiments with limited scope and duration, to long-term maintenance of dozens of transgenic and/or mutant lines. more >>