MUSC celebrates expertise the research community offers South Carolina and beyond

June 30, 2022
Man in a plaid shirt gestures as he stands beside a poster that says CORES Day.
Operations manager Jason Pierce presents information on the Lipidomics Shared Resource. Photos by Scott Garrand

When MUSC researchers collaborate and combine their expertise, technologies and passion, they tap into a special kind of energy. There’s not much, it seems, that they can’t do.

This collaborative energy filled Bioengineering Building Room 110 and the Drug Discovery Building Lobby on June 16 as more than 80 investigators came together for MUSC Research Cores Day – a day that celebrates the expertise MUSC brings to the South Carolina research community. While the research cores have held events in the past, this was the first year that it was held in this format under the leadership of Research Cores Committee Chairman Steve Rosenzweig, Ph.D.

Woman with blonde hair and a striped shirt looks forward as she speaks. 
MUSC vice president for Research Lori McMahon, Ph.D., addresses researchers gathered for Cores Day presentations.

The research cores provide technical expertise and state-of-the-art instrumentation to support innovative biomedical research, both within MUSC and beyond. Sometimes the partnership is highly collaborative, especially when innovative technologies or approaches are being developed. Sometimes it’s more service-oriented – investigators know what they need, and the research cores are there to provide support. Either way, they help investigators to take their research further and faster than going it alone. 

“Our research cores set MUSC apart as an academic health sciences center committed to discovery,” said vice president for Research Lori L. McMahon, Ph.D. “They aren’t just instruments, facilities or software – they are made up of individuals who are catalysts for changing our understanding and improving the lives of others. They are partners in all types of scientific discoveries that range from basic to translational.”

Man wearing glasses speaks while standing in front of a poster. A woman stands to his right listening. 
MUSC Research Cores Committee Chairman Steve Rosenzweig, Ph.D., shares information about the expertise of the research cores.

While they provide services to MUSC investigators, several research cores also provide support to research endeavors happening in other labs across the country or world, or they house investigative resources that may not be found elsewhere. For instance, the MUSC Lipidomics Core facility has worked with 139 collaborators globally since 2019, including 38 national and 13 international institutions as well as nine biotech companies. As part of its mission, the Drug Discovery Core has created the South Carolina Compound Collection (SC3), an in-house collection representative of the best compounds made by academic and industrial chemists in South Carolina. SC3 was founded with an initial donation of 3,000 compounds from retired organic chemist Charles Beam from the College of Charleston. This original donation was then bolstered by more than 130,000 proprietary compounds donated by Aeterna Zentaris from its discovery library and continues to expand with donations for chemists at MUSC and across the state.

“We have incredible resources and unparalleled skill in our research community at MUSC,” said Rosenzweig, who is also a professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. “The goal of each research core team is to share those resources and its expertise to be part of changing what’s possible. It’s only through collaborations that we will make that happen.” 

A man in a blud shirt and glasses listens intently in an auditorium. 
Transgenic and Genome Editing Core director Fulei Tang, Ph.D., listens to presentations by other directors.

The celebration kicked off with presentations from six research cores about their expertise and services, including the Mass Spectrometry Facility, the Division of Laboratory Animal Resources, the Cell Evaluation and Therapy Shared Resource, the Center for Biomedical Imaging, the Lipidomics Shared Resource, the Bioenergetic Profiling Core and the Drug Discovery Core.

Following the presentations, core staff from the Biorepository & Tissue Analysis Shared Resource, the Biostatistics Collaborative Unit, the Biostatistics Shared Resource, the Cell and Molecular Imaging Shared Resource, the Center for Biomedical Imaging, the Clean Cell Facility, the Computational Brain Imaging Core, the Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Shared Resource, the Gnotobiotic Animal Core, the Histology & Histochemistry Laboratory, the Mouse Behavioral Phenotyping Core, the Proteogenomics Facility, the Transgenic & Genome Editing Core, the Tissue Culture Facility Shared Resource and the Translational Science Laboratory joined to present posters to share more information about their cores with in-person attendees.

The Bioenergetics Profiling Core, the Biostatistics Collaborative Unit, CEDAR, the Clean Cell Facility, the Drug Discovery Core, the Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Shared Resource, the Histology & Histochemistry Laboratory, In Our DNA SC, Infinity, the Mass Spectrometry Facility and SCTR also offered consultation to investigators interested in learning more about utilizing core services.  

The day wrapped up with tours of select facilities for investigators to get an up-close look at the technologies available to support their research needs. The South Carolina Research Authority was also on hand to share how its team advances research capabilities and commercializes technology for academic institutions and start-ups that are sometimes born from research discoveries. 

The research cores operate as service centers on a charge-back basis, with varying degrees of support across MUSC. Information on services, instrumentation, pricing and contacts can be found on each research core’s page on the MUSC Research website.