The Animal Models & Imaging Facility (AMIF) provides state-of-the-art, preclinical molecular imaging services for biomedical research at West Virginia University. Animal models of disease are a critical tool for the translational research projects that promote understanding of the factors that influence the progression of disease and the impact of potential therapeutic targets. Cancer researchers, in particular, need to be able to study tumor growth and metastasis in the context of the microenvironment in real time and in living animals to determine the events that initiate tumorigenesis, promote cancer progression or impact response to treatment. As part of the Tumor Microenvironment Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (TME CoBRE), the AMIF has expanded its imaging and preclinical treatment capabilities with the addition of new equipment for radiation therapy, electron paramagnetic resonance and magnetic resonance imaging, and for high-resolution micro computed tomography. The AMIF is the only facility on campus that can offer these longitudinal, non-invasive imaging studies with sufficient resolution for working in small animal models. The long-term goals of this core are to (1) establish novel treatment and imaging resources in an existing core facility to support translational research projects targeting the tumor microenvironment and (2) provide training and support for investigators using preclinical models to study cancer biology. This TME CoBRE-supported core will synergize with other Institutional Development Award (IDeA)-funded projects including other CoBRE projects, the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), and the IDeA Clinical and Translational Research Award (IDeA-CTR) to enhance research competitiveness, improve therapy, and address health disparities, particularly in cancer. The AMIF provides opportunities for collaboration with other Centers at WVU resulting in the broadest impact of CoBRE investment. Further, it is integrated with the Patient-Derived Xenograft Core Facility in this TME CoBRE application through the study of mouse models using primary patient samples. In addition, it is highly connected to the Flow Cytometry Single Cell Analysis Core Facility that will provide downstream analysis of cells recovered from xenograft models. The AMIF is committed to mentoring and participates in the Technology Seminar Series in partnership with the other CoBRE Cores to enhance both education and collaboration across the CoBRE- supported initiatives.
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