Dana-Farber Cancer Institute maintains a variety of resources to support the research and educational activities of Dana-Farber faculty. These core facilities, shared resources, and integrative research centers offer research services to the Boston research community, including academic institutions and industry.
Also see our Integrative Research Centers.
Core and Shared Resources
Biospecimen Repository Core
The Biospecimen Repository provides long-term storage of clinical and research material in -80º C and liquid nitrogen freezers. Transportation of samples to and from the repository is provided for an additional fee. Competitive prices are available on a per-box basis in either segregated or non-segregated environments.
- Materials inventoried and identified using unique bar codes
- Product transportation in IATA-compliant cryogenic shipping containers and accessories
- Automated freezer alarm security system for continuous freezer monitoring
- Equipment monitoring and on-call staff members for after-hour alarms
- Full disaster recovery plans
- Emergency back-up generators
The core provides affordable monthly fees inclusive of operation and maintenance, and costs that are proportional to your storage needs.
Biostatistics provides expertise for the planning, conduct, analysis, and reporting of clinical trials, epidemiologic and population based studies, studies in genetic susceptibility of cancer, and experiments in basic research in the biology of cancer. Services also include: advice and consultation in efficient and accurate database design and management of clinical research data; scientific computing for data analysis and scientific graphics; and education in the areas of study design, data collection, computerization, and statistical methods for laboratory, clinical, and population based studies.
Director: Paul Catalano, ScD
Co-Director: Rebecca Gelman, PhD
BOC Translational Hub
The Translational Hub is an initiative of the Breast Oncology Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham Cancer Center established to support the collection, processing, and storage of biospecimens from patients enrolled in clinical studies. Our goal is to facilitate such biospecimen collection to provide investigators with optimal samples to complete the highest quality translational research. The Translational Hub aims to bring together investigators, clinical, and research staff and unify our experience, expertise, and efforts. The purpose of the Translational Hub aligns with Dana-Farber’s mission to understand, treat, cure, and prevent cancer.
- Biospecimen collection and management
- H&E digitization and pathology assessment
- Multiplex immunofluorescence
Clinical Research Laboratory
The Clinical Research Laboratory (CRL) utilizes protocol-driven standard operating procedures for the processing of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamic, and biomarker samples. This includes the processing, storage, and tracking of all research specimens to ensure the successful completion of clinical trials associated with patient treatment. The CRL is dedicated to the highest standards of specimen handling to maintain the integrity of data procurement and analysis for clinical trials.
- Separation of plasma and serum from blood samples
- Isolation of mononuclear cells
- Mononuclear cell counting
- DNA isolation
- Cell counts and lysates
- 24 hour urine volume and aliquot
- Processing of other body fluids such as urine, cerebrospinal fluid, ductal lavage, oral mucosal washings etc.
- Bone Marrow aspirate and blood fixation
- Special processing as negotiated with sponsor
- Short term storage of research specimens
Computational Chemistry Core
The Computational Chemistry Core provides molecular modeling, cheminformatics, and computer-aided drug design capabilities through rigorous and innovative in silico methods. Collaborations include virtual library designs and screening, structure-based ligand design and optimization, de novo designs, library analysis, and protein modeling in basic as well as translational research.
Capabilities and Services
- Small molecule virtual screening
- Dynamics and plasticity of biomolecules through molecular simulations
- Structural and ligand based de novo design
- Modeling of protein-protein interaction modulators
- Cheminformatics analysis of small molecule libraries
Connell and O'Reilly Families Cell Manipulation Core
The Connell and O’Reilly Families Cell Manipulation Core Facility assists researchers in developing new cell-based therapies for cancer. All cell manufacturing procedures are performed in environmentally controlled conditions according to current Good Manufacturing Practices for cell and tissue processing. Services include the processing of hematopoietic stem cells for autologous or allogeneic transplantation, generation of tumor vaccines using genetic or culture mediated modification of tumor cells, and preparation of immune cell populations for adoptive cellular therapy.
Cell processing for patients enrolled in clinical research protocols, including:
- Processing of hematopoietic stem cells
- Preparation of tumor vaccines
- Generation of T cells for adoptive immunotherapy
- At present, the cellular components produced by the CMCF fall into three categories:
- Manipulated hematopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) components
- Tumor cell vaccines
- Tumor-specific immunotherapy components
Since most cell manipulation procedures are distinct and developmental, the cost of each procedure is determined individually for each protocol. Charges to principal investigators are based on the laboratory costs determined for each protocol.
CyTOF Mass Cytometry Core
Mass Cytometry is a technology that couples highly sensitive ICP-TOF mass spectrometry with flow cytometry-like single cell analysis. The CyTOF-Helios Mass Cytometer allows for the simultaneous detection of metal-based antibodies without the limitations of marker emission overlap.
The Longwood Medical Area (LMA) CyTOF Mass Cytometry Core provides high dimensional single cell analysis of up to 42 markers simultaneously. Staff is available for technical assistance as well as guidance in experimental design and implementation.
- Fluidigm CyTOF-XT Mass Cytometers (2)
- Full assistance sample acquisition
- Experimental design consultant
Experimental Therapeutics Core
The Experimental Therapeutics (ETx) Core is a preclinical resource to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) researchers and collaborators for conducting in vivo pharmacological studies. Studies will be run at a 14,000-square-foot preclinical facility shared with the Lurie Family Imaging Center (LFIC) that features bioluminescent imaging using the IVIS Spectrum system.
Our mission is to help DFCI investigators by providing high quality in vivo pharmacology studies that enable DFCI investigators’ translational research and chemistry and drug discovery/development efforts. These include studies that determine efficacy of new therapies and new combinations, advance preclinical studies to initiate clinical trials, and target identification and validation.
The Experimental Therapeutics Core will provide expertise for in vivo pharmacology studies, including drug tolerability and efficacy studies; pharmacodynamic and mechanism-of-action studies, and tumor model development. Our capabilities include both subcutaneous and orthotopic tumor implantations and animal dosing by all common routes of administration, e.g. intraperitoneal, intravenous, oral and subcutaneous, and in combination. Comprehensive tumor and tissue harvesting is available for every study. Fresh samples can be sent to investigators or preserved by formalin fixation and/or flash freezing.
Flow Cytometry Core
The Flow Cytometry Core Facility offers state-of-the-art, fully equipped flow cytometry instrumentation in two locations on the Dana-Farber campus. Expert cytometry technicians are available to assist with any analysis or sorting experiments, with services available to all researchers in the Longwood Area and beyond. The Flow Core provides cell sorting, including bulk enrichment, rare population, and single cell plate sorting, performed by the flow cytometry staff. For cell analysis, the core offers one-on-one training for independent use. The staff are also available for assistance with experimental design and data analysis.
The Flow Core maintains and operates 14 flow cytometers including:
- 2 BD FACSAria cell sorters
- 2 BD Symphony S6 cell sorters
- 2 MA900 Sony cell sorters
- 6 BD LSRFortessa cell analyzers
- 2 ID7000 Spectral analyzers
Health Communication Core
The Health Communication Core provides professional creative services to researchers and clinicians from Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and other medical and research institutions. The core provides everything from writing, editing, and graphic design to web site development, high-end print production, and audience research. Evidence-based practices with creative expertise are combined to develop materials and communication strategies that help researchers successfully reach their audience.
The core provides creative expertise in the areas of:
- writing and editing
- visual information and graphic design
- print production
- marketing and promotion
- intervention development
- communication and research testing
The Medicinal Chemistry Core collaborates with researchers to accelerate the development of novel therapeutic agents. The Core is comprised of experienced medicinal and synthetic chemists with lab space located in Dana-Farber's Harbor Campus. The labs are fully equipped to perform synthetic organic chemistry on a small to multi-gram scale, with LCMS, reverse phase chromatography, and access to the NMR facilities at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School.
- Provision of tool compounds for in vitro testing or animal studies: If required compound is not commercially available, the Core can arrange for its custom synthesis.
- Medicinal chemistry consulting/advice: Input for grant applications, literature searching, and assistance with the collection of selectivity, pharmacokinetic, and safety data.
- Drug discovery: For researchers pursuing novel therapeutics, or wishing to develop chemical tools for new targets, the Core can assist with hit identification strategies, HTS analysis, and the optimization of lead molecules. With appropriate funding, the Core can more fully collaborate with researchers, designing and synthesizing compounds, either in its own labs or through a chemistry CRO.
Molecular Biology Core Facilities
The Molecular Biology Core Facilities offers expertise and instrumentation for cutting-edge genomic and proteomic research. High throughput projects are processed by automated liquid handling systems and low throughput projects and development work are handled by experienced staff scientists.
- Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)
- Short Read Tech: Illumina NovaSeq, NextSeq, MiniSeq, and MiSeq
- Long Read Tech: PacBio and Oxford Nanopore
- NGS Applications: RNASeq, ChlPseq, ATACseq, Single Cell, FFPE, CRISPR screening and edit site characterization, Exome, Whole Genome, copy number analysis, miRNAseq, 16S rRNA surveys, Methylation profiling, more ...
- Pipelines: RNAseq, ChlPseq, Variant Calling, Copy Number, more ...
- Intact Mass Analysis
- Tryptic mapping
- Identification of post-translational modifications
- BIAcore protein and DNA ligand assays
Molecular Cancer Imaging Facility (MCIF)
The MCIF mission is to advance therapeutic and diagnostic research through radiotracer development for research investigators. MCIF helps investigators quickly move discovery-stage concepts to in-vivo models, generating data to support grant applications, publications, and drug development efforts.
- Radiolabeling consultation
- Small molecule radiolabeling
- Biomolecule radiolabeling
- Nanoparticle radiolabeling
- Radiosynthesis automation and optimization
- Quality control method development
Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory
The Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory (MDL) provides fragment analysis-based human cell line identity verification/authentication and microsatellite instability analysis of tumor/normal paired DNA. Consultation on experimental design and assistance with data analysis is also available.
The MDL offers the following research services to investigators at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as well as to investigators at other academic and non-academic institutions:
- Human Cell Line Identity Verification: utilizing high resolution small tandem repeat (STR) profiling compliant with American National Standards Institute (ASN-0002) recommendations.
- Microsatellite Instability Analysis: both Promega kit v1.2-based and custom primer and microsatellite target-based analyses are available.
Molecular Imaging Core
The Molecular Imaging Core provides state-of-the-art imaging microscopy technology for fixed and live cells and tissues, along with scientific and technical expertise to assist in experimental design and optimal image collection. Imaging techniques available through the core are standard fluorescence, live-cell long term imaging, confocal, TIRF, FRET, and spectral imaging. Available equipment includes a spinning disk confocal microscope, a Leica SP5 laser scanning confocal with a white light laser, and an inverted widefield fluorescence microscope. Training on all equipment, consultation about various imaging techniques, and assistance with image analysis is also available. Core staff are also able to assist with troubleshooting microscope issues in individual research labs.
- Standard fluorescence
- Live-cell long-term imaging
- 3D imaging
- Confocal microscopy
- Fluorescence spectral detection
- FRET, FRAP, FCS
- High throughput imaging
- Multiplex imaging
- Image analysis
- Training on microscopy equipment and analysis software
- Assistance and consultation about projects and equipment
- Leica THUNDER Imager: THUNDER imager is a widefield microscope that allows high-speed and high-quality 3D exploration of whole organisms or cells. It feathers Computational Clearing, for eliminating out-of-focus blur and shading correction. It has an environmental enclosure (temperature, humidity, and CO2 control) and auto-focus to maintain samples at the focal plane over time. The “Spiral” Option offers efficient tile scan imaging.
- Zeiss LSM 980 with Airyscan 2: The LSM 980 microscope is a fully automated multimodal microscope that can be used for confocal and spectral imaging. It is equipped with a Unique AL Sampler Finder System. The Airyscan detector enables super-resolution and high-speed imaging. The LSM 980 is fully equipped for live-cell imaging. It has an environmental enclosure (temperature, humidity, and CO2 control) and Definite focus 3 to maintain samples at the focal plane over time.
- Nikon Inverted Widefield Fluorescence: Nikon Ti-E is ideal for sample checking and long-time (over-the-weekend to several days) imaging projects. It also offers standard color imaging (non-fluorescent) for H&E stain and colorimetric in situ hybridization. A Hamamatsu Orca ER digital CCD camera.
For list of fees and more information see the iLab website or contact the director.
Monoclonal Antibody Core
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Core (EQNMR)
The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Core, jointly operated by Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber, provides expert support and instrumentation for a broad range of chemical, biochemical, and structural biology research problems. We work with collaborators to design and implement time-efficient and cost-effective NMR approaches to chemical problem-solving, biochemical interaction studies, ligand and fragment screening, ligand-target binding studies, metabolomics, and macromolecular structure determination. We are available to provide technical and scientific training in NMR methods as well as hands-on instrument training.
- Standard 1H/13C NMR for chemical analysis (1D/2D)
- Advanced 2D NMR for natural products structure elucidation
- Multi-nuclear NMR analysis (19F, 31P, 15N, other)
- Multiple-sample walk-up automation
- NMR fragment screening and analysis
- Fluorine NMR binding experiments
- Double/triple-labeled protein analysis (3D)
- Validation of ligand binding
- Design of competitive binding screens
- Technical and scientific NMR training
- 500 MHz Avance III Spectrometer with multi-nuclear Smart probe (DFCI)
- 600 MHz Avance II Spectrometer with Prodigy HCN cryoprobe (HMS)
- 700 MHz DDR2 Spectrometer with HCN helium cold probe (HMS)
- 600 MHz Inova Spectrometer with HCN helium cold probe (HMS)
- 400 MHz Varian Spectrometer with multi-nuclear OneProbe (HMS)
- Gilson 215 for preparation of samples for screening campaigns (HMS)
Pathology Core Laboratory
The mission of the Dana-Farber Pathology Core Laboratory is to advance the progress of translational science through our core services with a commitment to excellence and quality. Our extensive range of services includes histopathology, immunohistochemistry, the high-complexity technologies of 7-panel multiplex immunofluorescence, and Digital Spatial Profiling. We are dedicated to delivering the highest level of work and to ensuring that each project is approached with the utmost care and attention to detail.
- Digital Spatial Profiling (DSP): Nanostring GeoMX DSP.
- General Histology:
- Paraffin tissue processing and embedding.
- Frozen/FFPE tissue sectioning.
- H&E staining.
- Cell pellet block preparation.
- Histological special stains.
- Immunohistochemistry (IHC): Chromogenic IHC (single/dual).
- Multiplex Fluorescence (mIF): (up to 7 markers/slide).
- In Situ Hybridization (ISH)
- DNA/RNA Extraction
- Multispectral Imaging Analysis:
- Whole slide scanning – bright-field.
- Fluorescence (10X, 20X, 40X)
- ROI image analysis:
- Multispectral composite, segmentation, phenotyping, scoring, TMA scanning and analysis.
- Cryostat – Leica CM3050 S
Structural and Chemical Biology Center (Longwood Center for Structural and Chemical Biology)
Protein Expression, Purification, and Crystallization
Through collaborations with Dana-Farber and Longwood-area laboratories, the Structural and Chemical Biology Center (Longwood Center for Structural and Chemical Biology) helps solve chemical and structural biology problems in the field of cancer research. The team performs and contributes to mechanism of action studies and structural biology by generating high quality proteins and executing biophysical characterization assays and screens. We conduct large-scale (1-10 liters) bacterial and baculovirus expression and perform FPLC-based affinity, size-exclusion, and ion-exchange chromatography. Notably, the team conducts X-ray crystallography (crystal screening, optimization, data collection, and structure determination) for use in a wide variety of studies, including structure-guided drug discovery.
Tumor Imaging Metrics Core
The Tumor Imaging Metrics Core (TIMC) provides standardized, consistent, longitudinal radiological measurements to evaluate therapeutic response for DF/HCC clinical trials. Services include accurate, consistent, and timely analysis of CT, MR, and PET/CT imaging studies. Measurements available include linear (RECIST, WHO, Cheson), volumetric measures for CT or MR scans, and Standardized Uptake Value (SUV) for PET scans. Results of analyses are offered on a password-protected secure web-based report. This core also provides an independent service with verifiable measurement of treatment response for patients enrolled in trials, and serves as a centralized, computerized resource to facilitate efficient internal or external auditing.
- Makes reliable, quantitative, longitudinal measurements (such as linear dimension, RECIST, volume, function, etc.) of lesions from serial MRI, CT, and PET scan images
- Presents results of analyses on a password protected secure web-based report
- Provides an independent service, with verifiable measurement of treatment response for patients enrolled in cancer center trials
- Serves as a centralized, computerized resource to facilitate efficient internal or external auditing
Reliable tracking of changes in lesion size or function is essential for clinical trials that use radiological measurements as surrogate endpoints. The Tumor Metrics Core provides a service for managing these images, making measurements in a routine, reliable, and centralized way, and making results available to investigators efficiently.
The Tumor Metrics Core provides four primary services to DF/HCC investigators:
- Consultation services for image-based protocol and image analysis design
- Image aggregation and management of scans from all DF/HCC institutions
- Image measurement of lesions from scans of patients on clinical trials
- Reporting and database management of radiological data for clinical trials
The Tumor Imaging Metrics Core will maintain a database of longitudinal radiological and clinical data that will link to the Quality Assurance for Clinical Trials (QACT) Core to provide an auditable record of quantitative measurements for clinical trials conducted through the DF/HCC.
Survey and Data Management Core
The Survey and Data Management Core provides efficient, high-quality data collection, management services, and consultation. The core provides expertise and technical support in the areas of development and implementation of data collection protocols from study participants, quality control of data collection processes, and data management. Capabilities include the development and implementation of survey research projects, the development of complex databases, project evaluation, cognitive interviewing, focus groups, in-depth interviews, and other similar processes.
- Database design and data management
- Protocol development and consulting
- Questionnaire design
- Cognitive testing
- On-line survey design and implementation
- Implementation of mail and in-person survey methodologies
- Qualitative data collection and analysis
- Participant tracking
- Data entry
- Data analysis
The Translab is dedicated to supporting clinical research and offers a comprehensive battery of services, leveraging multiple technologies and methods, and can assist with routine processes as well as complex laboratory-developed tests. The Translab places a special emphasis on assay development for use in clinical trials.
Scope of Services
- Cellular assays: proliferation, differentiation, cytotoxicity, apoptosis, CFU ...
- Immunophenotyping (panel development, whole blood, purified cells ...
- RNA- and DNA-based molecular assays: PCR, qPCR, cloning, Southern blot, spectratyping (sorted CD4/CD8) ...
- Immunoassays: standard ELISA, multiplex (LuminexMAGPIX®, MSD, Western blot
- Cell isolation and culture: Ficoll, cell selection, EBV transformation, viral transduction ...
- Process and product development for cell-based therapies (FDA compliant)
Center for Life Science (CLS 3068)
Core Director: Myriam Armant
Email: Translab@childrens.harvard.edu or Myriam.Armant@childrens.harvard.edu
The facility provides services and resources for investigators looking to accomplish animal research objectives. This includes housing mice and rats, purchasing animals, training researchers regarding proper animal care and use, and monitoring the safety of all personnel with laboratory animal contact in conjunction with Dana-Farber’s Environmental Health and Safety and Occupational Health Services.
Dana-Farber has established an Institutional Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to oversee the Institute’s animal program, facilities, and projects involving the use of animals. The IACUC serves as the approval body for all protocols involving animal research, and assists faculty, students and staff in upholding Dana-Farber’s commitment to providing the finest care and most humane utilization of laboratory animals.
In addition to basic husbandry services, the Vivarium staff provides technical and veterinary services, mouse breeding management and mouse irradiation.