Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute Cores & Centers
Established in 2003, the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute provides a home for a program of interdisciplinary research that builds on USC’s existing strengths in neuroscience, molecular epidemiology and genetics, as well as the clinical expertise of the physician-scientists in the School’s clinical departments.
Faculty associated with the ZNI represent a sampling of the broad and interactive biomedical research effort being conducted at USC. More than 30 faculty members from 17 USC departments, institutes, divisions and centers are affiliated with ZNI. These investigators have active federal grants from 12 different institutes across the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, the Department of Public Health Services, foundations and industry partners. ZNI is home to 285 building occupants, including 34 postdoctoral fellows and 56 graduate students.
Scientists at ZNI are from the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cell & Neurobiology, Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Physiology & Biophysics, Psychiatry & the Behavioral Sciences and Preventive Medicine, the division of Biostatistics, the Alzheimer Disease Research Center, the Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics as well as the Eli & Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC, to which the ZNI is physically connected via bridges on all floors.
An organized research unit of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, the ZNI is housed in a five-story, 125,000 sq ft building on the Health Sciences Campus, a state-of-the-art facility that allows basic and clinical neuroscientists to concentrate and collaborate. Research programs at the ZNI concentrate on Alzheimer and Related Diseases, Psychiatric Genetics, Genomics, Circuits, Vascular areas, Vision/Eye and Hearing/Ear. Among other research groups, the ZNI is home to the Protein Structure Lab, the Multiphoton Center, the Center for Genomic Psychiatry and the Center for Neurodegeneration and Regeneration. In addition to the wet-lab space on every floor, there is a vivaria, conference facilities, classroom space, common equipment areas, faculty offices and workrooms and a café. PIs have access to two shared cold-rooms, several common facility rooms, a liquid nitrogen storage room, and one autoclave/dishwasher room throughout the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute.
(C) A microscopy suite containing an Olympus AX70 Research microscope equipped with a motorized stage and both bright field and epifluorescent capabilities, an Inverted Nikon Eclipse T2000-U microscope, and a Nikon TE2000-S microscope with a temperature-controlled chamber for real time cell culture imaging. (D) A blood flow suite containing laser Doppler flow meter (Transonic Systems Inc.) for quantification of CBF response to brain activation, quantitative autoradiography (MCIE Autoradiography) for quantification of regional resting CBF, a custom-designed laser speckle imaging apparatus (Thor Laser Speckle Flowmetry) for visualization of pial blood vessels and blood flow, and a custom-designed intrinsic optical signal mapping apparatus for visualization of regional brain activation.
(E) Imaging suite for neuronal (cortical activation) by voltage sensitive dye (VSD) imaging and electrophysiological recordings. (F) A behavioral suite containing a Barnes maze, rotar rod, novel object location, novel object recognition, wire grip, beam balance, and burrowing test apparatus to study murine cognitive function. (G) A cell culture room containing 4 CO2 incubators for normoxic studies, 2 CO2 chambers for hypoxic studies, two SterilGard laminar-flow hoods, and three liquid nitrogen storage tanks for cell storage (H) Adjacent molecular biology suites containing two Zeiss Palm Microbeam laser capture microscopes for single cell isolation and a multitude of molecular techniques, including centrifugation, RNA extraction, EMSA, DNA analysis, Western and Southern blot analysis, PCR thermal cylcers, immunoprecipitation of proteins, and spectrophotometric protein determination.
(I) A protein purification suite containing both FPLC (Biorad) and HPLC (Shimadzu) systems. (I) A radioisotope labeling suite specially designed for preparation of radiolabeled proteins, including 125I-, 14C-, 3H-. Suite also contains a Gamma Wallac Wizard 1470 and beta Packard Tricarb 2100TR counters for subsequent analysis of radioactivities. (I) An electrophysiology recording suite. In the main laboratory of the Center, there is a dark room and cold room as well as a crytostat and vibratome for tissue sectioning and preparation.
There are 12 laboratory benches for wet work, each focusing on specific procedures: immunofluorescent detection of brain pericytes, isolation of neurovascular cells (pericytes, endothelial, astrocytes, VSMC, microglia and neurons), cranial window preparation for multi-photon microscopy, proximal ligation assay to study protein-protein interaction and distribution of BBB transport proteins, ELISA development and applications, molecular cloning and transgenic mouse manipulation, molecular mechanisms of brain angiogenesis and receptor signaling, Aβ, apoE and apoJ in vivo brain clearance studies, protein chemistry, neuroprotective effects of activated protein C (APC), stroke modeling (MCAO, proximal, distal and embolic models, photothrombotic mini-stroke, and intrastriatal NMDA model) , effects of APC treatment following various stroke models, neuroprotection and stem cell studies, stereological studies and neuronal spinogenesis, blood-brain barrier mediated clearance and pharmacokinetics, in situ brain vascular perfusion, in vitro blood-brain barrier studies, glucose metabolism/transport in AD murine models, and cholesterol and copper metabolism in AD murine models.
USC has a Linux cluster configuration (HPCC) that is ranked as the 5th fastest academic supercomputer in the USA and 17th fastest academic supercomputer worldwide, and 63rd fastest of all supercomputers worldwide (Spring 2011). The 1,988-node (each with 8-12 cores), 10-gigabit backbone benchmarked at 126.4 teraflops. The ZNI co-owns a dedicated “condo” of 122 nodes (1,308 cores). The CGP solely owns a 40 core server with 1 TB of RAM for high-memory compute jobs. PIs in the CGP belong to a consortium of USC researchers who purchased a high-performance 1.2 PB (~800 TB usable) DDN 10K-e disk array in 2011. ~400 TB of this space is owned by the CGP laboratory and further expansion of this device to 2.4 PB (raw) can be accommodated by upgrading the head node to a 12K-e (available now), as needed.