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Biobehavioral research laboratory

From the blog

Laboratory staff

  • Theresa Swift-Scanlan, Ph.D., director of biobehavioral laboratory services
  • Jacob T. Graham, lab technician

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing Biobehavioral Research Laboratory (SON BRL) offers state-of-the-science facilities and high quality services to support researchers at VCU, as well as outside of the university. The 3,800 square-foot suite includes 14 rooms for conducting physiologic and behavioral monitoring, clinical sample collection, storage, processing, and a wide range of molecular assays.

We provide extensive services for many genetic, epigenetic, protein, and physiologic monitoring measures.

The following services are available to support your research:

  • Consultation on incorporation of biobehavioral measures into grant applications
  • Sample collection and processing (e.g., saliva, blood, urine, exhaled breath condensate)
  • Nucleic acid purification from multiple tissue and cell types
  • Protein detection assays such as singleplex and multiplex ELISA
  • Exhaled breath condensate (EBC) assays
  • PCR-based applications (SNP genotyping, mRNA gene expression)
  • Nanostring Technology: direct digital detection of hundreds of mRNAs and protein from a single clinical sample

We recently acquired the first-ever Nanostring platform in the Commonwealth of Virginia, an innovative and sensitive technology that enables the direct digital detection nucleic acid sequences and proteins. By profiling the expression of hundreds of genes (up to n=800), proteins, RNAs, or copy number variations, simultaneously from a single sample, the SON BRL is able to support a wide range of translational and clinical research studies, including biomarker discovery and validation.

We are one of the few research labs in the country capable of conducting exhaled breath condensate (EBC) sample collection (via RTubes), storage (at -80 oC), and analysis on the Mesoscale Discovery Platform (MSD). The MSD platform is highly sensitive and can detect cytokines, fatty acids, lipids, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, and other metabolites at extremely low concentrations from EBC and other sample types.

Our physiological monitoring laboratory contains portable equipment for monitoring heart rate variability, vital signs (including pulse oximetry), and non-invasive/ambulatory blood pressure measurement. This facility is equipped for research participant enrollment and biobehavioral data collection, with private rooms for data collection, administering questionnaires, performing quantitative sensory testing (Medoc Pathway System), and performing phlebotomy.

For questions or to schedule a consultation, please email sonlab@vcu.edu.

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