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About Our Cores ...

The Center for Gender Physiology manages four core facilities that provide animal models, equipment and expertise required to explore sex differences in physiological function while keeping costs within a reasonable limit for campus researchers.


Swine Hormone Core

Director, Leona Rubin, PhD

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The goal of the Swine Hormone Core is to maintain and supply male and female swine of known sex hormone status. Age and strain-matched male and female Yucatan miniature swine will be orchiectomized and vascular access ports installed for assessment of hormone status. Normal male and female swine will be maintained with vascular access ports for control and sham surgeries. Sex hormone levels will be regulated using a transdermal delivery system for hormone replacement.

Transdermal testosterone and estrogen patches are an effective and non-invasive method to control hormone levels. Core personnel assume responsibility for patch placement, blood collection for analysis of hormone levels and adjustment of hormone dose as needed. Blood samples for other measures, such as lipid profiles, stress hormones etc, will be available. At scheduled intervals to maximize tissue distribution and experimental requirements, Core personnel will euthanize animals and provide tissues samples for in vitro analysis. The Core also will systematically collect and store both frozen and fixative prepared tissues for retrospective histopathology and biochemistry.


Hormone Assay Core

Director, Venkataseshu Ganjam, PhD

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The radioimmunoassay (RIA) core is central to understanding the role of sex steroids on physiological function wherein, hormones (sex steroid and/or peptide hormones) have to be quantitated. In this core facilitiy, blood samples (plasma or serum) obtained from mouse, rat, and pig (in various research projects) as well as human subjects can be submitted to radioimmunoassay. A key paradigm for testing gender differences namely, intact males and females castrated or ovariectomized with or without hormone replacement therapy will be utilized in the proposed studies. Sex steroid hormone levels: Estrogens (estrone, and 17b-estradiol) and androgens (testosterone, androstenedione, and 5 a-dihydrotestosterone) will be quantified utilizing highly specific and sensitive radioimmunoassays. A typical 47-sample assay becomes a 120 tube RIA for the hormone, which includes 47-samples in duplicate with standards and internal controls. Our quality control programs monitor for both inter- and intra-assay percent coefficient of variation. A log-logit program will be employed to calculate results. To assess whether females are in diestrus (non-follicular part of the estrous cycle), we will quantitate progesterone by RIA. If investigators want to monitor adrenocortical function, the RIA core can deliver glucocorticoid assays as well. To discriminate pre- from post-menopausal women Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Leutinizing Hormone (LH) will be quantitated. For both of these peptide hormones (FSH & LH) homologous human RIA's will be utilized.


Rodent Core

Director, Marybeth Brown, PhD

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To meet the mission of NASA and to enhance our understanding of potential gender differences in response to long-term space travel and long-term bed rest, the rat hind limb unweighting model is being used. Hind limb unweighting consists of lifting the rat hindquarters so that the legs are not in contact with the floor. Similar to space travel or bed rest, the legs are free to move but there is no weight-bearing through the extremities. Unweighting results in muscle atrohpy, loss of bone, hormone, and fluid shifts, and numerous other changes, adaptations that are consistent with what occurs in astronauts with space travel.

The goals of the rodent core are to:

  1. provide tissues for study to multiple investigators, and
  2. expand the scope of on-going studies.

Currently, female rats are being studied as there is so little information available on the potential influence of female sex hormone on changes induced by reduced physical activity, particularly on skeletal muscle and bone. Findings for rats will serve as a basis for planned human studies and future paired male-female rats studies.


Human Translational Research Laboratory

Director, Virginia H. Huxley, PhD

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The University of Missouri Health Sciences Center (MUHSC) is pursing actively new opportunities and expanding efforts in applications of biomedical research towards improving human health. Areas of emphasis and investment include aging, women's health, cardiovascular research, cancer therapeutics, and diabetes.

The NASA Life Sciences research program has made extraordinary contributions to understanding environmental factors that influence performance of human exploration in the environment of space. However, while the application of this research has tremendous potential to affect the health of humans on earth, this potential has yet to be realized. The MUHSC, with its unique interdisciplinary environment on a single campus of medical and health related activities, is stepping forward to collaborate with NASA on developing:

An MU/NASA Partnership For Health Applications of Space Biomedical Research

The HTRL Mission:

  • To take basic science or theoretical discoveries and develop them into innovative approaches and therapies for fighting disease and improving health.

  • To be an integral component of the University of Missouri's strategic initiative in the development of a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Center for Diabetes and Cardiovascular Health, The Center for Gender Physiology, The Health Activity Center, The Central Missouri Regional Arthritis Center and the Center on Aging.

  • To provide clinician-scientists and basic scientists with advanced new methods for improving human health in such areas as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and aging. The HTRL will also translate discoveries from the human genome project into new therapies for patients with gene-based diseases or conditions.

  • Providing scientists with a physical environment that promotes collaboration-a common research environment-that fosters creativity, promotes innovation, and shortens the time it takes to develop new technologies.

  • The HTRL will provide space essential for recruiting new clinician-scientists. Further, the HTRL will provide the infrastructure for the multi-user facility that will be needed to reach the critical mass of 10 funded projects and 30 human protocols needed to be competitive for NIH support of a GCRC.


Research Animal Angioagraphy Core

Director, Doug K. Bowles, PhD

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The Research Animal Angiography Core (RAAC) provides catheter-based vascular interventions for large-mammal research, including, but not limited to: balloon angioplasty, stent deployment, coronary and carotid endarterectomy, intravascular ultrasound, non-invasive vascular ultrasound and site-specific, intravascular delivery of drugs or gene therapy. These interventions are identical to those performed in human clinical medicine and provide a unique and valuable research resource opportunity for “translational research” from large mammal studies to humans. The ability to repeatedly assess vascular function on the same animal is a significant advantage, especially with animals which require significant time and resource investment, e.g. genetically modified pigs.

The RAAC is a component of the National Center for Gender Physiology under the direction of Dr. Doug Bowles, Biomedical Sciences. The RACC utilizes the new Research Animal Angiography Lab in the Medical Sciences Building. This facility, under the direction of the MU Center for Diabetes and Cardiovascular Health was recently completed with funds from NIH, with substantial upgrades provided by NASA.

Numerous MU components interact with the RACC including, but not limited to; School of Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Center for Diabetes and Cardiovascular Health, National Center for Gender Physiology, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, Life Science Center, and the Departments of Biomedical Sciences, Endocrinology, Cardiology, Internal Medicine, and Medical Pharmacology and Physiology.

The RAAC currently utilizes an Omega Medical ( 100 kW constant potential output system with Cine and angiographic applications; Pulsed fluoro; high resolution cardiac digital system; single plane positioning table by Omega; floor mounted cart; digital system software by Infimed; ceiling mounted radiation shield/surgical light.

Also available are a Volcano IVUS with VH spectral analysis; Volcano ComboMap- catheter-based combination intravascular flow and pressure and 12 lead ECG.