Texas Tech University

Resources for Nutritional Sciences Researchers

Centralized Core Facilities:

Texas Tech University provides comprehensive research facilities and resources for biomedical research, with oversight by the Vice President for Research. The Center for Biotechnology and Genomics located in the Experimental Sciences building (ESB) houses state-of-the-art instrumentations and provide services and training in various aspects of modern biotechnology, mass spectrophotometry, biomolecular interaction, and DNA applications including metagenomics, meta-transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. The facility is fully staffed with personnel to assist with training and research services. Also available is the College of Arts & Sciences Microscopy (CASM), located in the ESB, which offers support and services to scientists with expertise in the fields of optical microscopy, cell cytometry and the preparation of life –science samples for imaging and analysis. The CASM is equipped with automated histology staining system, an advanced bottom-mount camera for the H-8100 transmission electron microscope (TEM) for protein-crystal research, laser capture microdissection microscope, and Olympus Fluoview 1000 Live Cell confocal microscope, to name a few. Rodent behavioral assays such as Y-maze, Morris Water Maze (MWM), and novel object recognition (NOR) test for assessment of spatial learning and memory are also available in the ESB.

Nutrition & Metabolic Health Initiative (NMHI):

Dr. Martin Binks is director of the NMHI. This NMHI Clinical Research Facility provides state of the art, 9,000 ft2, clinical research facilities with ample space for clinical assessment, screening, and a wide range of biomedical procedures, medical examinations, and data collection / processing capability. Located just off the southeast corner of campus with ample free parking, NMHI is ideally situated for cross campus collaboration. We have considerable resources including 30+ desktop computers (all with dual screens), a 12-Core high performance MAC (for neuroimaging and other data-intense applications), 3 computers reserved for patient data collection activities, 5 faculty offices, 16 student / study staff cubicle workspaces and a large secure admin area for file storage. We are HIPPA, EHS and COVID-19 compliant. NMHI also has substantial recruitment capabilities including recruitment lists (>6000 contacts), multimedia relationships, advertising contracts, recruitment areas on our website, dedicated recruiting phone lines and email accounts. Our clinical interview and examination rooms total six with additional flex space availability. We have one large conference room (occupancy 20; 85” smart TV with video conference capability), one smaller conference room (occupancy 6; 60” smart TV with video conference capability). These provide ample space for group activity. We have biohazard certified phlebotomy / procedure / sample areas and onsite centrifuges (3) for pre-processing of samples along with easy access to the Department of Nutritional Sciences' considerable basic science lab facilities. Together, this allows for fully integrated translational / clinical research. In addition, our metabolic / demonstration kitchen and designated human feeding room allows for feeding and nutrition education studies. All our patient and common areas are equipped with bariatric certified / friendly equipment. Together these facilities provide an optimal home for a wide range of clinical and translational research activity. Our focus is in supporting transdisciplinary research with facilities, expertise, equipment; training of collaborators and or provision of our services to support grant-funded human subject research across campus for all colleges and departments.

Equipment Includes:

  1. 450-pound capacity Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) – Body composition – including bone density (1).
  2. BOD POD air displacement plethysmograph for whole-body densitometry (adults and children) – Body composition (1)
  3. Bioelectrical Impedance Analyzers (BIA) – Weight-BMI-Body composition (3)
  4. Metabolic cart (metabolic testing) (1)
  5. MedGem Handheld Metabolic Devices (metabolic testing) (3)
  6. Digital scales (weight) (3)
  7. Omron automated blood pressure measurement devices (4)
  8. 12-lead EKG (1)
  9. Centrifuges and associated equipment (3)
  10. -20°C refrigerator with multi-day battery backup (1)
  11. Reagent / sample / drug refrigerators (2)
  12. Exercise testing room (Elliptical, walking desk / treadmill, free weight)
  13. Food refrigerators (3) Freezers (3), Dry storage

Neuroimaging Laboratory:

Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute (TTNI) led by Dr. Eric Walden is located in the Experimental Sciences building at TTU and offers multi-user neuroimaging capabilities. The neuroimaging lab at the Institute houses a Siemens 3T Magnetom Skyra scanner with computing facilities, a mock scanner room, and behavioral testing rooms. The Skyra scanner is equipped for acquiring MRI, fMRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and MR spectroscopy (MRS) data. A high-density simultaneous EEG/ fMRI system is also available. A dual network server computer is interfaced with the Skyra scanner and the internet for receiving scanner data and providing access of the collected data to the investigators via the internet. The neuroimaging lab also contains three 12-core Mac Pros that are setup for high performance, parallel neuroimaging analysis. In addition, TTNI has access to the linux cluster housed at the High Performance Computing Center (HPCC) at TTU. In addition, the lab offers consultations regarding study design and modification of data acquisition parameters to assistance with data analysis.

Community Nutrition Laboratory:

The community nutrition laboratory is led by Drs. Mary Murimi and Wilna Oldewage-Theron and has the necessary equipment and measuring tools for food and nutrition research such as body composition scales, stadiometers, non-flexible measuring tapes, and food models for dietary intake measurements as well as food preparation equipment for nutrition education demonstrations. The laboratory also has Portable Reflection Spectroscopy Device (“Veggie Meter”) for measurements of skin carotenoid levels.

Molecular Biology Laboratories:

Under the directorship of Drs. Naima Moustaïd-Moussa, Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, and Vijay Hegde, cutting-edge molecular tools are available including:

  1. Brookhaven BI-MAS and ZetaPALS analyzer system for measuring nanocarrier size, size distribution and zeta potential
  2. High-Performance Liquid Chromotography (HPLC) that is equipped with Waters1525 binary pump, 2707 autosampler with refrigeration unit, 2489 dual wavelength UV-visible detector, 2475 multi λ fluorescence detector, 2465 electrochemical detector and in-line degasser
  3. Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS)-2020 UFLC PDA SYSTEM (Shimadzu Corporation) with PDA detector and high-speed single quadrupole LCMS detector with electrospray interface and source, CBM-20A with Switch, DGU-20A5 Degasser, SIL-20AC UFLC Autosampler, two LC-20AD Solvent Delivery Units, semi-micro Flow Cell for SPD-M20A, advanced data station, and compatible LC/MS solution software
  4. EVoS XL CORE brightfield /phase contrast microscope, auto-fluorescent microscope and inverted miscroscopes for cell and tissue analysis
  5. LiCor and BioRad ChemiDoc Touch quantitative western imaging system for protein work
  6. Standard and real-time quantitative PCR instrumentations for DNA/RNA work
  7. MagPix Luminex instrument for cytokine analysis
  8. Seahorse XF Extracellular Flux Analyzer for measuring oxygen consumption and energy expenditure in live cells
  9. Cellometer Vision CBA (Nexcelom) and a BD Flow Cytometer for cellular analysis
  10. Tri-Carb 4810 TR Liquid Scintillation Analyzer (Perkin Elmer) for measuring radioactive isotopes in serum or plasma samples

Neurobiology of Nutrition (N2) Laboratory:

The lab of Dr. Andrew C. Shin is equipped with Stoelting stereotaxic frames for cannulation or direct injection into the brain of rodents for DREADD (designer-receptors-exclusively-activated-by-designer-drugs) studies, optogenetics instrumentations including a waverform generator, energy meter, two lasers, and a beam splitter, and several Harvard single- and multi-syringe automated pumps for integrative physiological pancreatic clamps (hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamps; hyperglycemic clamps) with tracer dilution technique for metabolic flux and insulin sensitivity analyses. Many other techniques are available in the lab including, but not limited to, venous catheter implantation, sympathectomy, vagotomy, and microdissection of brain.

Animal Facilities:

Texas Tech University has full accreditation by the Council on Accreditation for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC). The Experimental Sciences building II (ESB II) houses an accredited animal facility in its basement, overseen centrally by Texas Tech Office of Lab Animal Care. This facility includes rooms for animal housing, surgery/ procedure rooms and a state-of-the-art metabolic chamber system (TSE Phenomaster) comprising 16 mouse metabolic cages that can simultaneously assess body weight, food/water intake, locomotor activity, and energy expenditure and RER. An EchoMRI-3-in-1/ body composition analyzer for live animals is also conveniently located in the animal facility. Additionally, a 3600 ft2 animal housing is also available at the ESB II on campus which has ABSLI and ABSLII level animal rooms. This facility contains ante room (with washer/dryer and locker rooms for men and women), PPE/storage room, 6 animal holding rooms, 3 procedure rooms, 1 feed/bedding room, cage-wash room (dirty and clean sides) equipped with a pass-through cage and bottle washer, a pass-through autoclave, a bio-bubble for bedding disposal and storage for caging, racks, carts, water bottles and enrichment.

Additional equipment available are IVIS spectrum CT machine  (anesthesia included), 2 mobile anesthesia machines, 3 hard-ducted biosafety cabinets (Class BII) and 4 recirculating biosafety cabinets (Class Bll). Outstanding staff members are committed to help monitoring the animals seven days a week. Veterinarians are available for consultation if needed.

Institutional Support for Investigators:

Various workshops and seminars related to grant writing and career development are offered on a regular basis to provide support and nurture all faculty members, but especially young investigators into an excellent scientist, a scholar, and a leader. The Obesity Research Institute (ORI; formerly known as Obesity Research Cluster), founded in 2013, aims to develop interdisciplinary basic clinical and community translational research to prevent and treat obesity along with its related complications via using innovative collaborations and strategic partnerships. The ORI offers seminar series with both internal and external experts in nutrition and obesity that provide a platform for research collaborations and training in basic, community and clinical translational research to fight obesity and related comorbidities. In addition, the Office of Research Services offers support for easy research proposal submissions to various agencies (government and non-government) by providing streamlined-internal routing, facilitating proposal submissions to sponsor systems, and by storing proposal and award documents through the use of Cayuse electronic research administration system.

Nutritional Sciences