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Background and History

In 1986, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology established this shared service as a resource for its faculty that could provide synthetic oligonucleotides and peptides. The first major expansion occurred in 1992 when DNA sequencing was added to the menu of services. The Facility slowly transformed into a critical institutional resource to support research in molecular biology, providing services and education. During this period of growth, the School of Medicine and the Medical Biotechnology Center of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute provided necessary developmental support. This support was augmented when Dr. Ambulos successfully obtaining NIH Shared Instrumentation grant funding and utilized the State of Maryland's Revolving Equipment Loan Program.

A second expansion to the facility occurred in 2002 when the School of Medicine's Genomics Core Facility, established in 2000 under the leadership of Dr. O. Colin Stine, was merged with the Biopolymer Shared Service. The merger broadened the scope of services now offered by the Biopolymer/Genomics Core Facility (BGCF), creating a comprehensive genomics resource facility that provides DNA sequencing, genotyping, gene expression analysis by real-time PCR and microarray analysis, as well as continued support for peptide synthesis and custom protein/peptide analysis and purification. With the merger came substantial financial commitment from the Dean's Office to enhance and upgrade instrumentation to ensure that the services would benefit from state-of-the-art technology. These funds were used to trade in out-dated DNA sequencing instruments and purchase an Applied Biosystems model 3730XL high through put sequencer, upgrade an old Affymetrix Gene Chip System 2500 to a Gene Chip System 3000 7G with an autoloader, and to purchase an Agilent 2100 bioanalyzer and an Applied Biosystems 7900HT Fast real-time PCR system.

Currently, the BGCF occupies 3500 sq. ft. of renovate space on the 5th floor of Howard Hall. This includes 2400 sq.ft. of wet laboratory space for BSS services, 500 sq. ft. for ancillary and common-use equipment, and 600 sq. ft. for offices and a conference/lunchroom.

The Biopolymer/Genomics Core Facility serves as the "genomics core facility" for a number of centers within the University, including:

  • The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center (UMGCC)
  • The School of Nursing's UMB Center for Pain Studies
  • The Baltimore Diabetes Research and Training Center
  • The Mid-Atlantic Nutrition Obesity Research Center
  • The School of Medicine's General Clinical Research Center