The Epigenetics Facility is part of the Human Development and Health Academic Unit at the University of Southampton. It is a multi-user facility which provides capabilities in a range of epigenetic and other molecular and cellular measurements. The facility is utilised by academic and commercial collaborators in Europe, Singapore and New Zealand, and by several research groups in the HDH and Cancer Sciences academic unit. The facility comprises a Pre-PCR lab, a Thermocycler lab and an Epigenetics lab which houses the main analytical equipment: a Sequenom MassArray Analyser 4, a MD Pyrosequencer and the RainDance ThunderStorm® System. The Mass Array and Pyrosequencer are capable of high resolution, high throughput methylation analysis and genotyping. The RainDance ThunderStorm® is a fully automated, high-throughput DNA enrichment system. The facility is managed by fully trained and experienced staff, including a Laboratory Manager and a Technician who are highly specialised in this field.
The MD Pyrosequencer is 96 well format and utilises sequencing by synthesis to measure DNA methylation at individual CpG within amplicons up to 60 bp long. It can also measure up to 4 SNPs within 60 bp and measure InDels and CNV’s. The MassARRAY analyser 4 system is 384 well format and utilises MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry to measure DNA methylation within amplicons up to 600 bp. It can measure SNPs, InDels and CNVs. Furthermore, it can perform genotyping of up to 40 different SNPs within a single multiplex reaction. Many predesigned and validated panels are available e.g. cancer. The Thunderstorm DNA enrichment system can be performed in 96 well format. It is a fully automated Next Gen sequencing content enrichment system which utilises single molecule picodroplet PCR technology to generate millions of unique picodroplet PCR reactions. Up to 20,000 genomic loci can be interrogated per sample, and up to 4,000 epigenomic loci per sample.
The MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (LEU) was established in 2010, under the direction of Professor Cyrus Cooper, and addresses the environmental determinants of musculoskeletal and metabolic disease throughout the lifecourse. In May 2013, the unit completed its integration with the University of Southampton in a successful University-Unit Partnership (UUP). We are interested in the interplay of causes acting at different stages of the lifecourse from before conception through to old age, and the ways in which environmental influences modulate gene expression to produce disease. Through an understanding of the causes of these disorders, and evaluation of interventions at appropriate stages in the lifecourse, we aim to provide robust and timely evidence which informs policies to improve population and individual health. The unit has 75 staff and a budget of £3m per year.
The Southampton Centre for Biomedical Research (SCBR) lies at the core of our clinical and biomedical research partnership with University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. This body coordinates the people and resources of our major clinical research facilities, units and centres which are supported by £27m of National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded infrastructure which includes the following:
• NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre with nutrition and respiratory research main themes
• NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre data science, microbial science and behavioural science cross-cutting themes
• NIHR/Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility
• NIHR/Cancer Research UK Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre
• NIHR/Cancer Research UK University of Southampton Clinical Trials Unit
The SCBR enables Southampton to be much greater than the sum of its components, so that researchers work faster and more efficiently. Quality assured nursing, specialist laboratories, clinical governance and facilities mean a wide range of health issues can be efficiently investigated, with confidence.