Restricted Research - Award List, Note/Discussion Page

Fiscal Year: 2014

2074  The University of Texas at San Antonio  (23634)

Principal Investigator: Hermann, Brian

Total Amount of Contract, Award, or Gift (Annual before 2011): $ 370,570

Exceeds $250,000 (Is it flagged?): Yes

Start and End Dates: 9/1/13 <> 8/31/16

Restricted Research: YES

Academic Discipline: BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT  

Department, Center, School, or Institute: San Antonio Cellular Therapeutics Institute (SACTI)  

Title of Contract, Award, or Gift: MRI: Acquisition of a BioMark HD sytem for single-cell genomics research.

Name of Granting or Contracting Agency/Entity: National Science Foundation

Program Title: none
CFDA Linked: Biological Sciences


Current biological research in the post-genome era relies heavily on high-throughput technologies that also afford high sensitivity in order to study cells at the molecular level and interrogate basic biological phenomena. Key challenges facing researchers in this area include the ability to examine molecular processes in small samples of cells and to be able to assess heterogeneity among individual cells, even when those cells are part of an otherwise homogeneous population. We seek funding for an instrument, the BioMark HD System including the C1 Autoprep System, which affords unique capabilities to address both of these challenges. This instrument facilitates studies of expression of hundreds of genes or gene sequence variations in hundreds of individual cells or samples in just a few hours. This system affords far greater sensitivity and quantitative resolution than conventional gene expression microarrays and can facilitate studies at far less expense than next-generation sequencing. It sets a new standard for high-throughput, quantitative PCR, and thus, streamlines workflow for applications demanding sensitivity and dynamic range. This resource will benefit members of multiple departments (Biology, Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering) within two colleges (Sciences, Engineering) at UTSA and colleagues around San Antonio. Intellectual Merit. Conventional technology for fundamental studies of cellular and molecular biology utilizes bulk-scale measurements of biological end-points that yield averaged values for populations of cells. In general, however, these population-based approaches fail to report the phenotypes of individual cells and therefore mask the role of heterogeneity within cell populations, which may contribute important input into biological processes. New nanofluidic technology makes it possible to measure molecular signatures (e.g., gene expression, genotypes) with single cell resolution. Emerging studies utilizing high-throughput single-cell analyses are among the most transformative in the biological sciences, and are changing the way we think about basic biological processes. This proposal is for the BioMark HD System including the C1 Autoprep System (Fluidigm), a multi-mode instrument for high-throughput single-cell sample preparation, real-time PCR (qPCR), end-point PCR, and digital PCR that enables gene expression analyses (including on single cells), genotyping and absolute copy number determination. The Integrated Fluidic Circuit (IFC) technology engineered for this instrument enables up to 96 different samples as small as a single cell to be simultaneously evaluated in parallel with up to 96 individual assays yielding up to 9,216 separate nanoliter scale reactions with near 100% precision. This instrument marries qPCR technology with nanofluidics to enable novel experiments that would otherwise be essentially impossible to pursue. As described in this proposal, investigators will utilize this instrument to ask transformative questions in broad topic areas including germ cell biology, neurobiology, cellular biophysics, plant virus host defense, plant herbivore defense, and insect olfaction. Broader Impacts.


Acquisition of the BioMark HD System at UTSA as shared major instrumentation will greatly improve access to, and increased use of, state-of-the-art research and research training instrumentation by scientists, engineers, and students at all levels (high-school, undergraduate and graduate students). This instrumentation will enhance the quality of research that can be performed by faculty and students from the Department of Biology and other departments at UTSA. This, in turn, will increase the ability of these faculty members to obtain research grants and to perform studies that will be publishable in high quality journals. All of this will improve the research environment at UTSA and this will directly enhance opportunities for training students and postdoctoral fellows to become productive researchers. It is especially important to provide underrepresented minority students with opportunities to perform research using state-of-the-art instruments of the sort that are often found at only a small number of particularly well-funded universities. Since UTSA is a designated Hispanic-serving institution with 61% of the student body from underrepresented groups (59% of students enrolled in sciences and engineering programs), we have a unique opportunity to broaden participation of underrepresented groups at all levels (including faculty; 49% of science/engineering faculty are from underrepresented groups). Indeed, several educational programs at UTSA are specifically designed to attract and retain students from underrepresented groups to scientific research and promote their interest in pursuing research careers. The BioMark HD system will be utilized by students in these programs to provide them with relevant experience using cutting-edge technology, which


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