Evelyn F. & William L. McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida
Central to much of the research at the Health Science Center at the University of Florida is the Evelyn F. & William L. McKnight Brain Institute. The McKnight Brain Institute (MBI) is a university-wide initiative that was created to harness and enhance multi-disciplinary research, clinical care and educational skills in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diverse disorders of the nervous system; including Stroke, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury. The relatively new six story building which houses the MBI encompasses over 200,000 gross square feet and provides a wealth of laboratory (individual, shared and core facilities), office and teaching space for UF-MBI faculty, staff and students. Many of the training faculty (Hayes, Heilman, Hoffman, Howland, Steindler, Thompson, and Vandenborne) have an office and/or state-of-the-art laboratory in the MBI. In addition, many of the seminars are held in one of the state-of-the-art MBI-auditoria. Below is a description of some of the core facilities located in the Evelyn F. & William L. McKnight Brain Institute. Dr. Dennis Steindler is the Director of the Evelyn F. & William L. McKnight Brain Institute and has agreed to serve on the RRCD program and be a lead mentor. Dr. Steindler is also a member of UFs-NCMRR funded T32 predoctoral training program, and in fact one of his students is a current trainee.
Computer and Information Technology Services (CITS) Core. This core facility provides the hardware, software and personnel to catalyze the synergistic integration of all of the MBI-UF’s high technology research and educational core facilities (especially the AMRIS and RSB Lab cores) and its multi-dimensional, multidisciplinary research Programmatic Matrix serving more than 300 faculty and other personnel. The CITS core equipment is found primarily, although not exclusively (i.e., we practice both the distributed and centralized models), on the ground floor of the MBI-UF building. Through a partnership with SGI the MBI-UF has installed a cluster of high performance graphics servers and workstations valued at several million dollars. This facility also includes a networked digital print shop equipped with high-resolution laser (including color) printer and flatbed scanners.
All of the workstation computers can be used either on-site or remotely, through secure channels, as the entire MBI-UF building is wired with single and multimode fiber optic and category 5 copper cabling. Thus, the network backbone is Gigabit Ethernet with faculty offices and labs capable of utilizing switched 100 Mbps as a default, but which can be upgraded to Gigabit if necessary. The MBI-UF building is linked to both Internet and Internet II through the UF Internet POP and Internet II GigaPOP. In addition, the supercomputer hosts a variety of application software packages ranging from image viewing, processing and analysis programs, to 3D visualization and simulation packages. Examples include such popular packages as: Matlab and IDL for image processing and analysis; Splus for biostatistics and image analysis; AFNI for functional image processing and analysis; VoxelView and Medx for research and clinical image processing and 3D volume rendering; Sybyl and Biosym for modeling, simulation and visualization; and VNMR, NMRview, NMRPipe, Xplor, Paravision, XwinNMR, and many other MRI/S control and processing packages. The supercomputer server was also configured with SGI’s Share II resource management software to facilitate equitable sharing of CPU time and
system RAM. The system is also capable of assigning or protecting selected resources for specific applications and/or user groups.
Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (AMRIS) Core. This core is directed by Art Edision and there are five complementary imaging and chemical analysis research suites within the main AMRIS core facility (i.e., a wing attached to the main MBI-UF building). This multimillion-dollar facility is operated as a national resource in cooperation with the National Science Foundation-funded National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health. The
instrumentation currently available includes: 1) an 11.74 tesla (500 Mhz) 5.2 cm vertical bore system; 2) a 14.1 tesla (600 Mhz) 5.2 cm vertical bore system that was recently upgraded with a new state-of-the-art console and additional probes; 3) two 17.6 tesla (750 Mhz) 8.9 cm vertical bore systemss; 4) a 4.7 tesla (200 Mhz) 33 cm horizontal bore system that was recently upgraded with a new state-of-the-art console; and 5) a 11.74 tesla (500 Mhz) 40 cm horizontal bore system. The AMRIS core also includes a seventh system; a 7 tesla (300
Mhz) 5.2 cm vertical bore system housed in a near-by building. These seven magnet systems within the AMRIS core were designed for studies ranging from high resolution analyses on soluble and membraneassociated biomolecules, to superfused single cells (e.g., Aplysia neurons) and tissue slices (e.g.,
hippocampus and heart), isolated organs (perfused or fixed) and whole body animal imaging and spectroscopy. The 11.74 tesla 40cm and the 17.6 tesla 8.9 cm systems are unique and are the most powerful MR imaging systems in the world for animals as large as primates and mice, respectively. All magnets are
equipped with the latest software (all Bruker instruments) by the generous support of primarily the DoD and also the NHMFL and the McKnight Brain Institute. Virtually any high-resolution NMR experiment in one, two, or
three dimensions can be designed and performed within the AMRIS facility.
For human imaging studies, MBI-UF researchers have access to two 1.5tesla/64Mhz 100cm, a 3tesla/128Mhz 80cm bore MRI system (GE), and a short bore 3T magnet (Siemens). These scanners are fully integrated into
the MBI-UF’s extended high-speed digital network and it is operated by SGI computers. The AMRIS facility purchased another 3T whole body MR system from Phillips which is scheduled to be installed in the McKnight Brain Institute in November 2006. The AMRIS facility also houses a fully equipped rf laboratory (vector impedance analyzers, noise figure meter, computer simulation facilities, etching capability), a chemistry laboratory, extensive support equipment (anesthesia and monitoring) and is operated by 6 FTE staff
Optical Microscopy (OM) Core. There are seven complementary imaging research suites within the OM core including: 1) laser scanning confocal microscopy; 2) optical sectioning deconvolution microscopy; 3) computer-assisted motorized morphometric microscopy, image analysis (including 3-D reconstruction), and densitometry; 4) light/immuno-fluorescence microscopy; 5) Laser capture micro-dissection ( i.e., single cell excision); 6) Optical coherence tomography (including endoscopic optical biopsy equipment); and 7)
Near-field scanning optical microscopy and atomic force microscopy (under development in UF Department of Chemistry). All of these stations have digital image capture systems and their own computer, and several utilize our own customized image capture and/or analysis systems.
Other MBI-UF research core facilities. In addition to research core facilities described above the MBI-UF building also houses several other cores of great value to its investigators and students and their research goals. A few examples of these include 1) a Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory in which psychophysical, electrophysiological and other parameters are obtained from human research subjects, some of whom may be subjected to transcranial magnetic stimulation computer methods for analyzing dynamic emotion displays, psychophysiology (startle, SCR, facial EMG, HR), structural and functional neuroimaging, and cognitive science & neuropsychological measures; 2) a Human Brain Tissue Bank, a major emphasis of which is the
establishment of the world’s only human neurotrauma sample repository; 3) a Specific Pathogen Free Animal Housing and Advanced Operating Room Facility; 4) a Transgenic Mouse Production Laboratory; 5) Behavioral-
Analysis Rodent and Behavioral-Analysis Cat Facilities 6) a Differential Gene Expression Analysis Core facility to assess changes in gene expression (with SAGE, real-time RT-PCR, subtractive suppression hybridization and microarray) following stroke, traumatic injuries, aging and diseases of the brain and spinal cord and after restorative treatments; 7) a Surgical Research and Training Lab to train residents, fellows and practicing physicians in advanced neurosurgical (and other surgical specialties) procedures with state-of-the-art
equipment (including MRI/CT/ultrasound/etc. image-guided surgery with SGI-workstation-controlled “Stealth Stations,” high-end neurovascular surgical fluoroscopes, endoscopes, surgical microscopies, ultrasound equipment and more), and to conduct fundamental surgical research on human cadavers and anesthetized live animals; and 8) a Multidisciplinary Simulation Computer Lab in which scientists and physicians use the 11 SGI workstations computers and the integrated Robotel Smartclass control system for fundamental research and to teach/learn such things as image-fusion for image-guided surgery. For additional information on these and other MBI-UF high technology core facilities and programs please access our web site at http://www.mbi.ufl.edu.
In summary, the MBI-UF programs and buildings utilize a fully integrated information technology infrastructure, coupled with state-of-the-art instrumentation.