The core facilities programme currently comprises six Core Facility Units: Genomics, Proteomics, Advanced Light Microscopy, Biomolecular Screening & Protein Technologies, FACS, and Bioinformatics, as well as the Histology Service and the Storage and Computing Unit that are only accessible to internal users. The overall activity in core facilities continues to increase every year, a success that is achieved through the constant renewal of equipment and the implementation of the newest methods by the different facilities.
In 2014, the major technologies developed/implemented were: the sorting of single viruses in the FACS Unit; the development of a pipeline for biomarker discovery and validation in the Proteomics Unit; the setting up of CRISPR/Cas9 technology in the BMS&PT Unit; and automated library preparation in the Genomics Unit. As a result of the ALMU Unit hosting a beta-test of a Leica next-generation STED system (STED3X), we decided to apply for funds to purchase the equipment, and we were granted the money in the 2014 ERDF fund call. All these innovations have allowed our programme to continue providing the state-of-the-art services that characterise the CRG core facilities.
During 2014 we set up new partnerships with hospitals, and we established further bilateral agreements with other local research institutes for provision of services (VHIR, CCiTUB and CMRB). The BMS&PT, together with the Genomics and Bioinformatics units, were active participants in setting up and implementing the mouth microbiome project ‘Saca La Lengua’, a social project coordinated by the CRG in collaboration with the CREAL and the “la Caixa” Banking Foundation. During 2015, the core facilities at the CRG will perform the DNA extraction, sequencing and data analysis of the microbiome present in the saliva of 2,000 students from schools around Spain (see the Communication & Outreach section to learn more).
The CRG core facilities are not only well established locally, with users coming from different institutions all over Barcelona and Spain (as well as from abroad), but we are also recognised partners in European initiatives. The Advanced Light Microscopy Unit participates in the ESFRI initiative EuroBioimaging, the Genomics Unit is a transnational access site in the European infrastructure network ESGI, and the Proteomics Unit is a transnational access and research site within the European Infrastructure network PRIME-XS, as well as being the only Spanish Proteomics Facility listed on the European MERIL platform.
The Core Facilities are member of the Core Facilities Excellence Alliance “Core For Life” (www.core4life.eu), which also includes the EMBL, VIB (Belgium), MPI-CBG (Dresden, Germany), IMP and CSF (Vienna, Austria), and the Functional Genomics Centre Zurich. Core For Life is aimed at sharing and consolidating procedures, joining forces in personnel training and technology validation, sharing access to facilities across institutes, and lobbying at EU level for infrastructure funding.