Important questions about human disease mechanism, diagnosis and therapy can be addressed if the tools of molecular biology and pathology are coupled effectively to detailed clinical phenotyping, particularly in patients followed prospectively over time. This is especially true of patients with complex diseases, such as the autoimmune rheumatic diseases. Large cohorts of these patients are available through the Clinical Centers of Excellence in the Division of Rheumatology at Johns Hopkins. The goal of the RDRCC Bioassay Core is to enable this coupling by providing services and assays for both clinical and laboratory investigators. Ultimately, this facilitates new studies and synergies that enable novel insights in the understanding, monitoring, prevention and treatment of autoimmune rheumatic diseases.
The Bioassay Core is placed directly at this interface, and enhances such synergies in the following ways:
- Provides the infrastructure for efficient processing, storage, cataloguing and retrieval of materials from patients with well-defined autoimmune rheumatic diseases. The Bioassay Core provides both clinical and laboratory-based investigators within the research base with efficient access to materials from patients with rheumatic diseases. Collection and processing of samples, especially in the setting of rare diseases, requires easy access, standardization and quality control. The Bioassay Core works with clinicians in the Clinical Centers to process patient samples including plasma, serum, RNA and DNA and PBMCs. All samples are carefully catalogued, tested for quality, and stored in the appropriate temperature-controlled environment with automated alarm notification for temperatures out of range or power failure. All stored samples are bar coded for easy identification and access. When samples are needed for assay, the Bioassay Core prepares and transfers materials.
- Provides high-quality, below market-price laboratory assays to facilitate collaborative discovery in the rheumatic diseases. Frequently performed assays include ELISA (both off-the-shelf and customized), immunohistochemistry, and autoantibody analysis using immunoprecipitation (from radiolableled cell lysates and radiolabeled in vitro transcription translated proteins). Of note, this Core has the expertise and capacity to provide boutique autoantibody screens as well as those standardly available.
By providing easy access to well-defined patient samples and low-cost assays and services of the highest quality, the Bioassay Core provides a critical link that maximizes the productivity of investigators studying autoimmune rheumatic diseases. Additionally, it enables those not currently directly involved in the study of these diseases to apply their interest and expertise (human immunology, neuroscience, oncology, cardiovascular and lung biology, imaging, stem cell biology, allergy, pharmacology and gerontology) to engage these problems. The Bioassay Core also provides training to staff in the Clinical Centers to ensure that best practice standards for processing, recordkeeping, and ensuring fidelity of labeling are uniformly applied.
This RDRCC Core plays a critical role in recruiting additional investigators to work on the rheumatic diseases and its functions are essential for initiating and sustaining outstanding, innovative and synergistic research into the rheumatic diseases.
To ask about services and assays, please contact the Bioassay Core Manager: Laura Gutierrez, MD at 410-550-1468 (tel) or firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail)