MRL Carver BioMaker Laboratory

MRL Carver BioMaker Laboratory

Location: MRL  0016 (entrance), 0012, 0014 and 0015
BSL-2 lab

Made possible by generous funding from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust (Grant #18-5079), our new MRL Carver BioMaker Lab’s core mission is to serve as a hub for collaborative, interdisciplinary and transformative educational and translational research across the campus of biological materials and biomedical applications in the growing bio/medical/pharmaceutical fields. The Lab has been financially supported by the Grainger College of Engineering, the Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Office of Vice Chancellor for Research – in summary, it represents a campus-wide effort.

The Carver BioMaker Lab (figure 1) is strategically located at the epicenter of the MRL instrumentation facilities which have a long-standing (over 50 years) experience in developing, supporting and management of large-scale instrumentation operating under a shared user facility mode, with expert staff support and processes for training of novice (including undergraduate students) and expert researchers in various areas of science and technology. The MRL Carver BioMaker Lab facilities are also adjacent to the MRL’s new Cryo-EM Lab suite (lab 0026, including the ThermoFisher Glacios Cryo-TEM system) for molecular/structural biology, which provides even further visibility and synergy to the research and instructional activities occurring in the MRL with staff support. The lab is also adjacent to the new JEOL JEM-1400 TEM system (lab 0021) which is suitable for standard imaging and tomography analysis of biological species within a wide scale range. The MRL has safety and technical protocols in place to allow researchers to access the laboratories on a 24/7/365 basis. The Carver BioMaker Lab currently has appropriate high-quality staff, and it is now managed and operating under the same access policy as all MRL shared facilities.

A detailed layout of the MRL Carver BioMaker Lab suite is shown in Figure 2 and Figure 3, including four lab spaces remodeled to accommodate research work under BSL-2 safety requirements. The BioMaker Lab includes the laboratories MRL 0012 (141 sq. ft area), MRL 0014 (518 sq. ft), MRL 0015 (380 sq. ft) and MRL 0016 (150 sq. ft), a total lab space of 1,189 sq. ft. The entry point of the BioMaker Lab is room 0016. In compliance with BSL-2 requirements, researchers and students enter the lab suite from 0016 where appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation (sink, etc.) are available. From there, users have access labs 0015, 0014 and the autoclave room (0012).

In addition to several tools for general sample preparation and processing of bio and soft materials shown in figures 2 and 3, several specialized tools have been added to the lab:

  • GEMSIM 2.1 Nanoplotter NP2.1 with attachments for robotic, nano-liter controlled spotting of cells (repeat accuracy 10 microns, step width 2 microns, travel range X:400 mm, Y:341 mm).
  • Cellink Bio X 3D printer for multiple-injection, 3D printing of soft materials with 1-micron movement resolution.
  • CADworks microfluidics printer with attachments (M50-405nm, 30 microns X-Y resolution) for micro- to pico-liter fluid manipulation and control.
  • MTI electrospinning system with 3 collector and temperature/humidity control for fiber production (suitable for cell growth acceleration) with diameters in the range 20 – 1000 nm.
  • Beckman Optima LE-80K ultracentrifuge with rotors, for Separation and purification of small particles, virus, protein complexes, RNA and DNA. Key for cell work.
  • MFP-3D-Bio Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) from Oxford Instruments for topography and imaging of larger structures (critical for cell work) with the option of samples being kept hydrated and in controlled-temperature environment (live cell imaging capabilities). The system includes the Olympus IX71 inverted optical fluorescence microscope for direct imaging of sample areas of interest. The microscope is located in the MRL 0026 lab.