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Research Core Revitalization Program funds upgrades to shared resources on campus

July 21, 2020 By Natasha Kassulke

The Research Core Revitalization Program has funded 17 projects that will strengthen campus research core capacities by supporting the upgrade, replacement or duplication of heavily used shared research resources.

The funded projects range from upgrading video recording capabilities for intellectual and developmental disabilities research to delivering increased computational speed for the analysis of large biomedical data sets. These projects were among 37 proposals submitted from across campus.

The pilot Research Core Revitalization Program is supported by an investment from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Awards range from $20,000 to $300,000.

Cores provide specialized equipment and expertise that benefit many individual research labs. These shared resources allow the university to support many investigators at once by maintaining and upgrading high-end instrumentation that would be cost-prohibitive for any single lab.  Each core supports dozens to hundreds of research programs.

“These resources play a critical role in UW’s research enterprise,” says Vice Chancellor Steve Ackerman. “The Research Core Revitalization Program continues our investment in improving these critical tools and capabilities, enabling progress and catalyzing collaboration in basic and translational sciences.”

The Office of Campus Research Cores has developed a Research Cores Directory for shared equipment and services on campus, including data for about 170 core units, 700 shared instruments and resources, and 450 professional services. The directory is publicly available.

Isabelle Girard, co-director of the Office of Campus Research Cores, explains that these resources have a limited lifespan. Although the cores  are essential and highly used, they may not be eligible or competitive for federal and other external grant programs targeting new capabilities and technologies. Cores typically recover all or a portion of their costs through user fees, although some subsidized core services may be accessible without direct charge to the user.

“Researchers across campus depend on the shared workhorse resources managed by cores, and reinvestment in these capabilities ensures continuity and productivity,” Girard says.

Industry partners also consult with and hire many UW–Madison cores. Core facilities help these businesses stay on budget, provide access to new software tools, data storage and computing capacity, and help biotech and pharmaceutical companies bridge the gap in the early phases between academic and translational research. Along with access to equipment, industry partners benefit from the expertise of the campus staff who operate that equipment.

“Many of our research accomplishments would not be possible without cores support that includes specific technologies and expertise. Core facilities enable researchers to design their studies using technologies and instruments that they otherwise could not afford or manage on their own,” says Cynthia Czajkowski, associate vice chancellor for research in the biological sciences. “Our facilities help foster the collaborative research environment that is crucial for competitive interdisciplinary science.”

Learn more about the Research Core Revitalization Program and read the project descriptions.

The funded projects and project leaders include:

Acquisition of Sample Processing Equipment for Biological Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
Marisa Otegui, professor of botany
Sarah Swanson, core facility director for the Newcomb Imaging Center

Addition of a High-Performance Compute Capacity to Support UWCCC and ICTR Cores in Bioinformatics and Biostatistics
Michael Newton, professor of biostatistics and medical informatics
William Annis, director of the biomedical computing group

Computing Resources for Rapid Reconstruction and Analysis of Next Generation Magnetic Resonance
Douglas Dean, assistant professor of pediatrics and medical physics
Steve Kecskemeti, associate scientist and staff magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) physicist at the Brain Imaging Core at the Waisman Center

Infrastructural Upgrade and Expansion for the Pinned Collections in the UW Insect Research Collection
Daniel K. Young, professor of entomology
Craig M. Brabant, academic curator of the Wisconsin Insect Research Collection

Instrumentation Upgrade for Small Animal Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Alan McMillan, associate professor of radiology
Sean Fain, professor of medical physics

Modernizing 6 Key Resources of the Waisman Center Rodent Behavioral Testing Service
Xinyu Zhao, professor of neuroscience and director of the Waisman Center Rodent Behavioral Testing Service (BTS)
Jules Panksepp, assistant researcher and manager of the Waisman Center Rodent Behavioral Testing Service (BTS)

Replacement of Workhorse Musical Keyboard Instruments for Research and Performance
Martha Fischer, professor of music
John Stowe, professor of music

Replacement of a Workhorse Raman Spectrometer in the Nanoscale Imaging and Analysis Center
Padma Gopalan, professor of materials science and engineering
Jerry Hunter, director of the Nanoscale Imaging and Analysis Center

Replacement of a Workhorse Scanned Probe Microscope in the Nanoscale Imaging and Analysis Center for Nanoscale Imaging and Property Measurements
Michael Arnold, professor of materials science and engineering
Jerry Hunter, director of the Wisconsin Centers for Nanoscale Technology

Replacement of an Obsolete High Frequency Ultrasound Machine Used for Small Animal Imaging
Hector Valdivia, professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of the UW Cardiovascular Research Center
Timothy Hacker, director of the Cardiovascular Physiology Core

Revitalizing Methods Used to Generate and Cryopreserve Novel Gene Edited Rodents
Kathy Krentz, co-director of the UW Biotechnology Center Genome Editing and Animal Models Facility
Dustin Rubinstein, co-director of the UW Biotechnology Center Genome Editing and Animal Models Facility

Server and Storage Infrastructure Refresh for Data Processing Cluster
Christina Kendziorski Newton, professor of biostatistics and medical informatics
Derek Pavelec, director of the Bioinformatics Resource Center

Upgrade and Duplicate Audio/Video Recording Equipment for Behavioral Testing Suites
Leann Smith DaWalt, director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and Clinical Translational Core at the Waisman Center
Carrie Arneson, manager of the Clinical Translational Core at the Waisman Center

Upgrade and Replace Several Components on the Nikon Stepper Optical Lithography Instrument in the Nanoscale Fabrication Center
Robert McDermott, professor of physics
Dan Christensen, laboratory manager for the Nanoscale Fabrication Center

Upgrade for Workhorse 500 MHz NMR for Catalysis and Materials Research
Ive Hermans, professor of chemistry
Charles Fry, distinguished scientist in chemistry and director of the Magnetic Resonance Facility

Upgrading Histology Core with Automated Printers and Coverslipper
Susan Thibeault, professor of surgery

Upgrading the Social Science Computing Cooperative’s “Linstat” Computing Cluster and Research Cyberinfrastructure
James Walker, professor of economics
Andrew Arnold, director of the Social Science Computing Cooperative