Harvard Digestive Diseases Center

Core Faciltities

The HDDC is made up of an Administrative Core and 4 Scientific Coresthat offer service, scientific know-how, equipment and material, and research components that are uniquely applicable to studies on the integrative biology of the GI mucosa.

  • The Imaging Core
  • The Epithelial Cell Biology Core
  • Molecular & Cellular Microbiology Core
  • Gnobiotics & Microbiology Core


The Imaging Core is dedicated to providing HDDC investigators and their trainees with access to a variety of imaging methods for analysis of tissue, cellular and subcellular structure. The methodologies offered strongly emphasize the integration of structural, functional and biochemical information.

  • imaging of live and fixed biological samples
  • phase and DIC imaging
  • widefield fluorescence
  • ratio imaging
  • laser scanning and spinning-disk confocal microscopy
  • dual-color total internal reflection microscopy
  • 5-D fluorescence imaging
  • FRAP
  • photoconversion
  • FRET imaging

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The Epithelial Cell Biology Core provides HDDC investigators with access to a variety of technologies and resources required for studies of epithelial cell biology and function at mucosal surfaces. The Core focuses in particular on intestinal cell biology.

  • Provide basic cell culture
  • Polarized epithelial cell culture on Transwell plates with 6.5/12-mm inserts 1.4/3 pm
  • 3D culture in collagen/matrigel gells
  • Generate cell lines permitting expression or knockdown of molecules
  • Direct highly multiplexed direct quantification of individual mRNAs in biological samples by the n-Counter™ system (nanoString Technologies)
  • Assistance with assay for protein expression or cell function by 6-color FACs analysis (BD FACSCanto™ II 6-color system)
  • Assistance with Genetic manipulations of epithelial cells for studies in polarized monolayer culture

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The Molecular and Cell Biochemistry Core aims to provide state-of-the art support for molecular and cellular biochemical research, and key biochemical preparatory services to a broad array of research projects related to epithelial cells of the intestine, liver, and pancreas.

  • Analysis of lipids derived from tissues, cells and organelles
  • Analysis of body fluids such as plasma, bile and intestinal contents
  • Nucleic acids analysis in the form of quantitative real-time PCR using a state-of-the-art, high throughput instrument.
  • Proteomic analyses including mass spectrometry-based protein identification, protein quantification, the detection of protein modifications and the determination of protein mass
  • Preparation of recombinant proteins, including vector design, large-scale prokaryotic or eukaryotic expression and purification

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The Gnotobiotic (germfree mouse) and Microbiology Core provides HDDC investigators with access to germfree mouse isolators, stocks of germfree mice (wild type Swiss-Webster and C57BL/6 strains), and a library of commensal and pathogen strains for use in the study of gastrointestinal diseases and processesinvolving the commensal flora and BL1 and BL2 pathogens. The Core also provides microbiological assessment of mice for sterility or colonization and can assist investigators with preparation of materials for deep sequencing of 16S rRNA gene signatures for evaluation of the microbiome.

  • Maintenance of germfree mice
  • Maintenance of Specifically-Associated Mice
  • On-site breeding and availability of wild-type germfree stocks
  • Tissue harvest and histopathology
  • Aerobic and anaerobic culture
  • Microbial identification and analysis
  • Analyses of the Microbiome

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