Research Core Facilities

The core facilities of the Medical Campus of the VUB can be used by researchers from outside the research cluster upon request.  Following core facilities are available:

 

Flow Cytometry

This core facility is located at two sites: at the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular therapy (LMCT) located in building E (2nd level) and at the laboratory for Liver Cell Biology (LIVR), located in building D (level 0).

The LMCT has two flow cytometers and a cell sorter for both internal and external users (both inside and outside the cluster ORC).  The first device, a BD FACS Canto with two lasers (blue and red) and 6 fluorescent detectors is equipped with a fully automatic 40-tube carousel acquisition system. The second device is a BD LSR Fortessa. This device contains three lasers (violet, blue and red) and has 11 fluorescent detectors. In addition, this unit is equipped with a "high throughput sampler", which allows acquisition from a microtiter plate.  Finally, the LMCT also has at its disposal a high speed BD FACS AriaIII cell sorter. This machine contains three lasers but it has a more extensive detector capacity than the LSR Fortessa (13 fluorescent detectors). This device can sort cells in different containers, including 96-well plates and microscope slides. Sorts can be carried out on both animal and human material (whether or not genetically modified) in biosafety level 2.  Regular quality checks are carried out on all devices and this both daily by the central administrator and twice a year by the manufacturer. In addition to the provision of this "state-of-the-art" equipment, the LMCT also offers the necessary scientific support in setting up and running a range of flow cytometric assays. Data is stored on a secure server for 4 years and made available as a download to the user. Two dedicated PC's are available for data analysis.  The conditions and associated cost for the use of this equipment can be requested by e-mail to J. Aerts (Joeri.Aerts@vub.ac.be).

The LIVR laboratory has a BD FACSAria cell sorter (first generation) with 3 lasers: UV-laser (355nm), Blue laser (488nm) and Red laser (633nm) in 11 fluorescent detectors. Sorts are for the time being restricted to animal material, and fixed human cells. The following samples cannot be sorted: unfixed human cells, samples containing human viruses, genetically modified organisms or radio-actively labelled samples. Flowjo software is available for data analysis.  Collected data are saved on a dedicated PC linked to a backup system on the server of the laboratory. At any time, the user can obtain a copy of the data (FCS-files or Pdfs). The conditions and cost for the use of this unit, as well as the available filter combinations can be requested by e-mail to Jean-Marc Lazou (jmlazou@vub.ac.be).

 

Functional Cytomics Unit

The unit is a core facility of the international Center for Beta Cell Therapy in Diabetes, co-ordinated by the VUB research group Diabetes Pathology and Therapy (DIAB). It is located in building E (ground floor, and 1st floor). It comprises the following equipment:

FacsVantage SE: a 2-bench flow cytometer (Becton Dickinson) with Argon Enterprise II laser (Coherent) for excitation at 488 nm and an Innova 300 laser (Coherent) for MLUV excitation. The temperature of the sample can be controlled by means of a RC6 (Lauda) cooling/heating system.

FacsVantage SE: a 2-bench flow cytometer (Becton Dickinson) with an Argon Innova 90 laser (Coherent) and a 561 nm Excelsior laser (Spectra-Physics).

FacsAria2U: a compact high velocity flow cytometer (Becton Dickinson) with 3 laser lines (405-488-633 nm), that can simultaneously sort up to 4 cell populations on basis of light scatter and up to 17 different fluorescence channels. An automated XY table can collect the fractions in tubes or in multiwell plates (24, 96 or 384 wells). The configuration also comprises a HPz230 workstation and DiVa8 software.

Pathway 855 – BioImager: a high content screening microscope equipped with a pipetting station and a temperature- and CO2- controlled incubator (Becton Dickinson – Atto Biosciences). Integrated set-up with a double Hg lamp, double 8-positions excitation filter wheels, a double 8-positions dichroic filter wheel and one 8-positions emission filter wheel. Spinning disk-based confocal system (CARV), inverted microscope with binocular. Detection with Hamamatsu Orca ER camera. The Imager is suited for high content screening. A very stable system in which the 96 of 384 well plate is immobilized, while the optical part rests on a movable XYZ platform. This configuration allows for quasi-simultaneous detection and sensitive quantification – in space and time – of 8 fluorophores in living cells.

Pathway 435 – BioImager: a high content screening microscope with a spinning disk and laser autofocus (Becton Dickinson). Suited for fluorescence in multiwell plates and on glass slides. The software allows to visualise 1 cm2 surfaces in several fluorescence channels.

Both Pathway configurations comprise 5 computer systems with software for image analysis, all equipped with Attovision en IPLAB analysis software. The systems can analyse and archive digital photographs off-line. A 40TB Synology NAS (network attached storage) can centrally store a large number of digital pictures and make them accessible for analysis via internet.

Zeiss-axioplan II microscope: fluorescence microscope (Carl Zeiss) equipped with an ORCA-R2 camera (Hamamatsu) and Smartcapture software (Digital Scientific). Fluorescence microscopy of cell preparations fixed on glass slides, as well as brightfield RGB-images.

Inverted Zeiss-Axiovert 135M microscope: (Carl Zeiss) Application: fluorescence microscopy on living cell cultures. Equipped with filter cubes for DAPI, FITC and TRITC fluorescence.

Nikon Eclipse: inverted fluorescence microscope with C-HGFI excitation lamp, a motorized XYZ table and a DC-Ri1 color camera (Nikon). Can be used for multiparameter analyses on living cell preparations. Filters for Dapi, Cy2, Cy3, CY5, polarization and a triple cube are available.

The Functional Cytomics Unit benefits from access to fully equipped laboratories for immunocytochemistry: Cytospin-4 (Thermo Scientific), HM360 microtome with cool-cut and water flow-based section transfer system for systematically cutting and collecting paraffin sections (Thermo Scientific), a collection of primary and secondary antibodies, centrifuges, incubators, laminar flows, aso, and interacts with the Transmission Electron Microscope core facility (responsible: karine.hellemans@vub.ac.be), which is also coordinated by the DIAB research group.

Conditions for use:

  • FACS- and bioimaging instrumentation is complex and hence only accessible to technically highly qualified personnel that oversees the relevance of the scientific questions. Trained staff members service and operate the instrumentation.
  • Open to peer-reviewed research programs that can co-finance cost in case of collaboration, or finance it in case of services to third parties.
  • Further information on conditions and associated costs for use can be requested by e-mail to Geert Stangé, co-ordinator of the Functional Cytomics Unit (geert.stange@vub.ac.be). Access to the instrumentation is strictly restricted to trained personnel.

 

Preclinical Imaging on small animals

This core facility centralizes multiple small animal imaging modalities including MicroSPECT, MicroPET, MicroMRI, Optical imaging, MicroCT and Ultrasound together with a unit for probe development and a vivarium for the housing of animals in one laboratory.

The following equipment is available:

MicroSPECT: Siemens E.Cam 180

MicroCT: SkyScan 1178 High-Throughput MicroCT

MicroPET/SPECT/CT: MiLabs VECTor+/CT

MicroMRI: RS2D OPTImouse 1.5T MRI

Bioluminescence Imaging: Biospace Photo Imager

Fluorescence Imaging: Fluorescence Molecular Tomograph FMTTM2500 LX (Perkin Elmer) and Odyssey (Westburg/Li-Cor)

Fluorescence Camera: Fluoptics FluoBeam 800

Fluorescence Microscope: Thermofisher EVOS FL Fluorescence Microscope

PhosphorImager: GE Healthcare PhosphorImager Typhoon FLA 7000

Ultrasound Imaging: GE Healthcare Vivid 7 Pro and Philips iE33

Cryotome: Thermo Scientific Cryotome

FPLC: Bio-Rad NGC Quest Plus FPLC

Gamma Counter: Canberra Gamma Counter Cobra Inspector 5003

Neptis Module: ORA Neptis Module

For more information, please visit: http://www.icmibrussels.be/AboutUs/CoreFacilities.htmlhttp://www.icmibrussels.be/AboutUs/CoreFacilities.html

Basic expertise and hands-on help is provided by staff members of the research group. The conditions for the use of this equipment can be requested by e-mail to Nick Devoogdt (ndevoogd@vub.ac.be)

 

Virus Production Unit

The Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Therapy (LMCT) posesses two P2 laboratories and one P2+ laboratory. These are designated for experiments with lenti- or retroviral particles and HIV, respectively. The aforementioned laboratories are part of the LMCT’s clean room facility, which is a closed facility accesible for qualified personnel only and under strict reglementation. In this facility the pressure, temperature and air flow are constantly regulated according to the current guidelines. In addition, each laboratory has a self-closing door. The laboratories are equipped with a biosafety cabinet and with all of the equipment that is found in a standard cell culture laboratory, including a warm water bath, microscope, incubator at 37°C and 5% CO2, fridge, centrifuge, etcetera. In addition, the facility has a room equipped with a Beckman ultracentrifuge and its attributes (SW28 rotor, SW28 buckets). This cenrifuge is used for the processing of viral particles. Besides these laboratories, the facility also encompasses a room in which contaminated materials are processed (autoclaved) before they are cleared for disposal and a central storage room in which all of the required materials are stored according to the needs in a storage rack, two fridges, two freezers at -20°C and one freezer at -80°C.

Basic expertise and hands-on help is provided by staff members of the research group.  The conditions for the use of this equipment can be requested by e-mail to K. Breckpot (karine.breckpot@vub.ac.be)

 

Facility for (bio)analytical separation analyses

The following equipment is available:

  • Waters Acquity Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography (UPLC) I class system coupled to a Xevo G2 quadrupole-time of flight mass spectrometer
  • Waters Acquity UPC² system: supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) system with diode array detection (DAD)
  • Thermo Scientific Accela ultrahigh pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC) system with diode array detection (DAD)
  • Beckman P/ACE MDQ capillary electrophoresis system with diode array detection (DAD) and laser induced fluorescence (LIF) detection

The conditions for the use of this equipment can be requested by e-mail to Yvan Vander Heyden (yvanvdh@vub.ac.be) or Debby Mangelings (debby.mangelings@vub.ac.be).

 

Confocal laser scan microscope

Equipment: confocal laser scan microscope Zeiss Axio Observer with LSM 710-6NLO configuration, Argon laser, Solid State laser and Helium-Neon laser, and Mai Tai AX DeepSee Titanium:Safier laser (excitation range between approximately 450 and 1000 nm).

Basic expertise and hands-on help is provided by staff members of the research group.  The conditions and associated cost for the use of this equipment can be requested by e-mail to L. Bouwens (lucbo@vub.ac.be)

 

Transmission Electron Microscope

Equipment: Tecnai 10 (FEI) transmission electron microscope (TEM)

Location: Building D, level 0 (DIFF).
The conditions and cost for the use of this unit, as well as the available filter combinations can be requested by e-mail to Angelo Willems (awillems@vub.ac.be). Basic expertise and hands-on help are provided.

 

Laser capture microscope

Equipment: Arcturus Pixel II 

Location: Building D, level 3 (EXPA)
Basic expertise and hands-on help is provided by staff members of the research group.

Contact: Peter In't Veld (intveld@vub.ac.be)

 

High Content Fluorescence Microscope for automated scanning & screening of tissue slides or multi-well plates

Specifications:

  • Nikkon TiE inverted microscope
  • motorized Z drive with linear encoder for high precision
  • front display with status info
  • PFS (perfect focus system): real time hardware focus correction, ideal for efficient imaging for application such as large image stiching, high throughpunt screening and timelapse imaging
  • XY motorized table with joystick
  • objectives for 4x, 10x plan fluor, 20x ELWD plan fluor, 40x ELWD plan fluor, 60x plan apo VC NA 1.4
  • lightsource for fluorescence and transmission
  • DIC
  • fluorescence and brightfield camera
  • available filters:DAPI Bright (ex 377/50nm) DM409, FITC Ex482/35nm DM506 Em536/40nm, TRITC Ex543/22nm DM562 Em593/40nm, Cy5 tm Ex628/40nm DM 660 Em692/4nm

 

Contact and terms of use:

Basic expertise and hands-on help is provided by staff members of the research group. The conditions for the use of this equipment can be requested by e-mail to paul.claes@vub.ac.be or tamara.vanhaeck@vub.ac.be.

 

 

Cryotomes

Equipment: Leitz Kryostat 1720 and type Microm 550

Location: Building D, level 3 (EXPA)
Basic expertise and hands-on help is provided by staff members of the research group.

Contact: Peter In't Veld (intveld@vub.ac.be)

 

Real Time PCR

Equipment: Applied Biosystems 7900HT Fast Real Time PCR system (standard block of 96 wells - 100 µl volume)

Three applications:

- Real Time PCR quantification of gene expression via TaqMan Probe based assays or SYBR Green Dye based assays

- Allelic Discrimination via EndPoint assays for determining the genotype of samples (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism)

- TaqMan® Array Micro Fluidic Cards to be processed with special thermal cycling block for 384 wells

Consumables as plates, strips, probes and mastermix are to be provided by the users.

Equipment located in the Beta Cell Neogenesis (BENE) lab – Building D Level 2

Reservation of running time is necessary (contact erikquar@vub.ac.be)

  

Paraffin tissue embedding and sectioning

Equipment: Paraffin embedding station and rotating paraffin microtome

Embedding cassettes, knives and microscope slides are to be provided by the users

Location: D032

Contact person: Emmy De Blay (tel. 4488)