The Analytical Core will serve as a centralized facility aimed at assisting investigators to pursue high quality research on all the projects of the program. It will also foster synergistic research by determining the epigenetic mechanisms involved in regulation of inflammatory diseases following treatment with botanicals.
The specific aims of the Core are 1) to provide state-of-the-art tools and technology as well as training for pursuing epigenomics studies including data acquisition and high throughput analysis of DNA methylation, histone methylation and acetylation as well as microRNA. Determination of epigenomic changes can lead to development of preventative and therapeutic strategies as well as identification of biomarkers and molecular signatures for diagnosis and prognosis. The study of epigenomics is an emerging area of research and necessitates the use of novel tools and technology made possible by the core personnel with expertise to perform genome-wide analysis without duplication of resources. 2) To utilize statistical approaches in developing experimental design and evaluation of the significance of the data obtained in all the projects as well as to use bioinformatic approaches including data mining, sharing and archiving of big datasets. This would involve development of experimental protocols, troubleshooting, statistical evaluation of the data generated and interpretation. The Core will also coordinate data collection, analysis, and accessibility of the data collected by the investigators. The Core will use bioinformatic approaches for data-mining, processing and archiving of data sets obtained through high-throughput analysis. This would include data extraction, warehousing and visualization. It will use computational data analysis using databases such as gene ontology and pathway analysis. 3) To conduct standard toxicity testing and immune monitoring of all the plant-derived compounds used in the 4 projects by performing screening for systemic toxicity as well as the 2-tier Immunotoxicity testing. While mechanistic studies in projects are restricted primarily to specific immune cells, it is critical to know how such plant-derived components affect the overall immune system. This is important because autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are often systemic and involve multiple types of immune cells. The toxicity studies are also useful because the data generated are pivotal for developing future translational research. 4) To perform evaluation of the natural product quality by performing chemical analysis thereby ensuring accurate identification and quantification of the components including potential impurities, quality control of batches of herbal product used, and stability following storage. In summary, the core will conduct epigenomic studies, statistical evaluation, bioinformatic approaches of data analysis, toxicity testing, immune monitoring, and natural product integrity of botanicals that would benefit all the projects of the PPG.
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