Introduction -- Over the past 30 years, the Hormone Assay & Analytical Services Core evolved from a basic instrumentation center and preparative laboratory for scintillation fluids and various enzymes to an analytical support core administered by the DRTC and the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center (MMPC). The purpose of the core is to provide assistance to investigators in the measurement of hormones, amino acids (SA & levels), lipids/lipoproteins, nucleotides and markers of oxidant stress in biologic fluids and tissue samples. The core provides space, equipment, and personnel that perform sample analysis and method development. Investigators pay a fee-for-service that covers the cost of reagents, supplies, a percentage of personnel salary, and pro-rated service contracts. The assays utilize modern instrumentation run by experienced research assistants in a reliable, quality-controlled environment. The core is the home for amino acid analysis which was previously carried out in a stand alone core. This change reflects a decrease in demand for amino acid analysis and an increase in financial efficiency brought about by the merger. New hormone assays have been added to reflect the current research trends as well as the luminex technology which has expanded our analytical capabilities extensively. The core also performs nucleotide measurement and the ability to measure the SA for UDPG & PEP in order to allow estimates of glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis in vivo in animal models. More recent developments include addition of the methods required in the use 2H2O to assess gluconeogenesis in vivo in human and animal studies, addition of a lipid/lipoprotein subcore, and finally in light of the emerging importance of oxidative stress in the development of metabolic disease a subcore that provides the opportunity for investigators to measure markers of such stress has also been added.
Objectives of the Hormone Assay & Analytical Services Core -- The objective of the Hormone Assay and Analytical Services Core is to provide unique and/or important analytical services to a broad base of investigators both within the Vanderbilt DRTC as well as at other diabetes centers and institutions with a focus on diabetes research across the country. Assays are in some cases unique, in some cases more precise than would otherwise be available and in all cases cost effective. In addition the core ensures a high level of quality control not only based on the expertise of the technical staff but also the procedures used to ensure continued quality. Core personnel also serve a didactic function by teaching others the theory behind the assays and by providing advice to investigators regarding the measurement of analytes not assayed in the core.
Core Functions -- The core offers a number of assays and analytical techniques that are stringently evaluated via quality control parameters inherent in every assay. All services are tailored to meet the needs of the investigators. The core routinely surveys its users to make certain appropriate service is being provided and to assess on-going assay requirements and future needs. The core advisory committee evaluates the need to discontinue or initiate services on a yearly basis.