Laboratory for Human Biology Research

Punching out discs of blood prior to analysis.

The Laboratory is located within the Anthropology Department, and is comprised of 1,500 square feet of Biosafety Level 2 certified wet-lab space with additional resources available for data analysis. The laboratory is fully equipped to support immunoassay analysis of human blood, saliva, and urine. We specialize in the collection and analysis of dried blood spot specimens.

In addition to spectrophotometric plate readers for enzyme immunoassay, the lab has invested in next generation multiplex immunoassay technology. The MesoScale Discovery Sector Imager 2400 uses electrochemiluminescent labels and multiple arrays of capture antibodies within a single well, allowing the simultaneous quantification of up to 10 analytes from a single sample on a microplate. The MSD’s high sensitivity and low required sample volume expand the range of analytes that can be measured in saliva and whole blood spots from finger pricks.

The lab also operates a Biomek NXp Laboratory Automation Workstation, which provides a flexible platform for high-throughput immunoassay analysis. The system includes an 8-channel pipetter, gripper, and integrated platewasher and multi-node platereader. A dedicated computer controls the system, and automates steps associated with liquid handling and data reduction.

Contact PI Thom McDade or Lab Manager Aaron Miller for more information about the Laboratory for Human Biology Research.


Amato Microbiome Lab

The Amato lab is a 547 square feet Biosafety Level 2 renovated laboratory space at 1801 Maple Avenue for processing samples for microbiome analysis. The Amato laboratory is outfitted with cold storage for storing samples and reagents as well as a centrifuge, microcentrifuges, thermocyclers, a spectrophotometer, and gel electrophoresis equipment for basic molecular wet laboratory work associated with DNA extraction and PCR amplification of microbial DNA. The lab also has two biosafety cabinets for DNA extraction and PCR preparation, respectively. An anaerobic chamber may be purchased in the future to allow culturing for additional analysis of microbial function.

In addition to equipment, the lab includes general-purpose bench space sufficient for four to six students to be actively working with samples at the same time as well as office space down the hall for up to five people. The Amato laboratory also has continuous free access to Northwestern’s Quest computing cluster for bioinformatics and several Terabytes of storage.

Photo of the Amato Microbiome Lab.

All Illumina (MiSeq, NextSeq, HiSeq) sequencing is performed at the DNA Services Facility at the University of Illinois Chicago. This core also has qPCR capabilities. All metabolomics analyses can be completed in the Integrated Molecular Structure Education and Research Center at Northwestern. This center has several instruments for LCMSMS and GCMS metabolomics as well as MALDI-TOF and NMR. It is equipped to handle the high volume of samples we will be processing and can provide analysis support for resulting data.

Contact PI Katie Amato or Postdoc Elizabeth Mallot for more information about the Amato lab.


Energetics Lab

The energetics laboratory is located within the Anthropology Department, room A58. The laboratory is set-up for the assessment of energy expenditure, body composition, brown fat, and cardiovascular function.

Energy Expenditure: The lab features two AEI Max II metabolic carts for the measurement of gas exchange, with a canopy for easy resting metabolic rate measurements.

Additionally, we have multiple Medgraphics VO2000 units for the field measurement of metabolic rate.

A True S Drive Treadmill is setup for the measurement of active energy expenditure and the calibration of Flex-Heart Rate based activity monitoring.

Brown Fat: The lab utilizes a FLIR E60bx Infrared Camera for the measurement of brown fat activity before and after a cold challenge.

Contact PI William Leonard for more information about the Energetics Lab.