Biomedical Research Core Facilities
Fall 2021 Newsletter
The Perelman School of Medicine is proud to support our integral research core facilities and research teams. Please stay safe and be well!
In this issue:

  • Announcements
  • 2021 Core Director Award Winners
  • Cores Day Video Presentations Available Online
  • ABRF Membership Slots Available
  • Reaching New Heights: Perspectives and Goals of Core Director Meeting Chair
  • Core Facilities Spotlight
  • Gnotobiotic Mouse Core Facility
  • OCRC Tumor BioTrust
Announcements - 2021 Core Director Award Winners
We are delighted to announce Drs. Tapan Ganguly and Julie Johnston have been selected as the inaugural winners of the 2021 Core Director Awards.
Dr. Ganguly has served as Director of the Penn Genomic Analysis Core (PGAC) and the Cell Center Services Facility (CCSF) for over twenty years, consistently striving to improve and expand these facilities. Under his skilled leadership, these innovative cores continue to explore the best ways to incorporate new technologies. In 2008, Dr. Ganguly was among the first on campus to utilize an early generation next-gen sequencing platform, Roche 454, through a collaboration with Dr. Rick Bushman.
Dr. Johnston has been responsible for financial, operational, technical, and scientific aspects of the Vector Core Facility for almost twenty years. During this time the core has undergone tremendous growth while also establishing a strong track record of support, not only for individual investigators, but also for communities of investigators through Center grants and contracts. Dr. Johnston’s expert management allowed the Vector Core Facility to continue operating throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing important research and support services to a wide variety of essential initiatives.
We are honored to recognize the tremendous accomplishments of Drs. Ganguly and Johnston as Core Facility Directors, and are grateful for their continued efforts to achieve excellence as part of our PSOM Biomedical Research Core Facility Community.
Announcements - Cores Day Video Presentations Available Online
We are pleased to announce that 2021 Cores Day presentations from the University of Pennsylvania and the Wistar Institute are now publicly available via the links below. Please note CHOP presentations will be made available online in the near future.

We encourage you to utilize these presentations as an ongoing resource – sharing them with any who may benefit from a brief overview of your facility, such as new or potential users.

If you were unable to participate in Cores Day 2021 and would like to provide a core facility presentation for the University of Pennsylvania site, please contact April Weakley ( for assistance.

Announcements - ABRF Membership Slots Available
The Perelman School of Medicine has obtained an institutional membership to the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF).

The ABRF is a membership association with more than 700 members working in or providing support to resource and research biotechnology laboratories. Members represent hundreds of laboratories and administrative offices across government, academia, research, industry, and commercial settings. The ABRF promotes the education and career advancement of scientists through conferences, a quarterly journal, publication of research group studies and conference travel awards. The society also sponsors multi-center research studies designed to help members incorporate new biotechnologies into their laboratories.

The ABRF offers a wide array of professional development resources, such as networking with the northeast regional chapter, educational workshops, access to content from prior meetings, research group / committee leadership opportunities, virtual Town Hall discussions, the ability to publish in the Journal of Biomolecular Techniques, and online forums to post questions.

 We encourage you to visit the ABRF website (, and to contact April Weakley ( if you would like to join the organization at no charge to you via PSOM’s institutional membership.
Reaching New Heights: Perspectives & Goals of Core Director Meeting Chair - Dr. Christopher Petucci
I am excited to serve as the Core Director Meeting Chair over the next 2 years as we return to normal operations throughout the pandemic. My responsibilities include creating meeting agendas, scheduling guest speakers, and moderating Core Director Meetings. Specifically, my goals are to build community among PSOM Cores and achieve excellence in what we do. During our meetings, we will achieve these goals through an active open dialogue about core operations (facility needs, services, business plans, impact on research programs, promotion and outreach), Core Director “You Slides” to get to know our fellow Directors and what they do, and social activities for Core Directors. Ultimately, working together and strengthening each other will help PSOM Cores reach new heights over the new few years and beyond.
Core Facilities Spotlight: Gnotobiotic Mouse Core Facility
Research over the last decade has transformed the way we think about commensal microorganisms. We now appreciate that the trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa associated with the human body influence nearly all aspects of physiology and disease.
Gnotobiotic mice (mice harboring a defined microbial community) are a critical tool to uncover the causal relationship between the microbiome and disease, and to determine the mechanisms through which commensal microbes influence the host. To facilitate microbiome research at Penn, The Gnotobiotic Mouse Facility, which is part of the PennCHOP Microbiome Program, manages a colony of germ-free mice and offers support with any experimentation involving the microbiome.
Germ-free mice lack all microorganisms and are housed in tightly controlled and monitored isolators to prevent contamination. They are microbiologically sterile; no living organisms can be cultured from germ-free mouse specimens. We have established strict husbandry protocols and stringent testing regimens to maintain the germ-free state. The core personnel provide technical support and access to several experimental setups that are needed for a variety of studies.
Germ-free mice can be used to study the effects of specific bacteria on a phenotype of interest, to determine the impact of microbial colonization at different body sites, and to study how different environmental interventions, such as different diets or drugs, modulate the microbiome and thereby affect the host. Thus, germ-free mice can be used, in the fields of microbiology and immunology, metabolism, neuroscience, cancer, development, toxicology, and as a powerful tool for drug discovery.
The Penn Gnotobiotic Mouse Facility offers several different experimental platforms. We have recently established a positive pressure isocage system as a solution for short-term studies (ranging from days to 2–3 weeks), where experimentation with sterile mice can be performed at large scale using multiple different experimental conditions. Germ-free mice are transferred from isolators to isocage racks for experimentation, where they are kept under fully gnotobiotic conditions. This facilitates mono- and poly-colonization experiments as well as experiments with advanced instrumentation for behavioral experiments or imaging modalities under germ-free conditions. In addition, the Core maintains several common strains of germ-free mice and mice at different ages that are available upon request and provides re-derivation services for generating customized germ-free and gnotobiotic mouse strains.
More information is available at our website:
Please contact our team ( to discuss how we can help with your project.
Core Facilities Spotlight: OCRC Tumor BioTrust Collection
The Ovarian Cancer Research Center Tumor BioTrust Collection is open and continues to collect fresh cancer tissue specimens, as well as plasma, serum, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), blood and other biological samples from various cancer cases with a focus on gynecologic cancers. We also house formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) samples including tissue microarray (TMA) construction and immunohistochemistry. Samples collected through the Penn Legacy Tissue Program (PLTP) (e.g., rapid autopsy) are also available and a quote can be provided upon request.

We will also work with investigators to prospectively collect specific samples to support their research within Penn research community as well as in outside academic institutions. We will be working with biotech/bio-pharma companies if it is within the confines of a collaboration.

We are offering the following sample types:

  • Fresh Tumor Tissue
  • Frozen Tumor Tissue
  • Enzyme Digested Tumor Cells
  • Serum
  • Plasma
  • Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMC)
  • OCT
  • Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded (FFPE)
  • Tissue Microarray (TMA)
  • Samples from rapid autopsies

More info about the core and pricing can be found at:
Representative Publications:
Systematic analysis of CD39, CD103, CD137, and PD-1 as biomarkers for naturally occurring tumor antigen-specific TILs.
Eiva MA, Omran DK, Chacon JA, Powell DJ Jr.
Eur J Immunol. 2021 Sep 10. doi: 10.1002/eji.202149329. Epub ahead of print.

CAR-T cell-mediated depletion of immunosuppressive tumor-associated macrophages promotes endogenous antitumor immunity and augments adoptive immunotherapy.
Rodriguez-Garcia A, Lynn RC, Poussin M, Eiva MA, Shaw LC, O'Connor RS, Minutolo NG, Casado-Medrano V, Lopez G, Matsuyama T, Powell DJ Jr.
Nat Commun. 2021 Feb 9;12(1):877. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-20893-2.
Inhibition of relaxin autocrine signaling confers therapeutic vulnerability in ovarian cancer.
Burston HE, Kent OA, Communal L, Udaskin ML, Sun RX, Brown KR, Jung E, Francis KE, La Rose J, Lowitz JK, Drapkin R, Mes-Masson AM, Rottapel R.
J Clin Invest. 2021 Feb 9:142677. doi: 10.1172/JCI142677.
Combining PARP with ATR inhibition overcomes PARP inhibitor and platinum resistance in ovarian cancer models.
Kim H, Xu H, George E, Hallberg D, Kumar S, Jagannathan V, Medvedev S, Kinose Y, Devins K, Verma P, Ly K, Wang Y, Greenberg RA, Schwartz L, Johnson N, Scharpf RB, Mills GB, Zhang R, Velculescu VE, Brown EJ, Simpkins F.
Nat Commun. 2020 Jul 24;11(1):3726. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17127-2.
PARP Theranostic Auger Emitters Are Cytotoxic in BRCA Mutant Ovarian Cancer and Viable Tumors from Ovarian Cancer Patients Enable Ex-Vivo Screening of Tumor Response. Molecules.
Riad A, Gitto SB, Lee H, Winters HD, Martorano PM, Hsieh CJ, Xu K, Omran DK, Powell DJ Jr, Mach RH, Makvandi M.
2020 Dec 19;25(24):6029. doi: 10.3390/molecules25246029.
An autologous humanized patient-derived-xenograft platform to evaluate immunotherapy in ovarian cancer
Sarah B. Gitto, Hyoung Kim, Stavros Rafail, Dalia K. Omran, Sergey Medvedev, Yasuto Kinose, Alba Rodriguez-Garcia, Ahron J. Flowers, Haineng Xu, Lauren E. Schwartz, Daniel J. Powell Jr., Fiona Simpkins
Gynecologic Oncology 156 (2020) 222e232.
CAR T Cells Targeting MISIIR for the Treatment of Ovarian Cancer and Other Gynecologic Malignancies
Alba Rodriguez-Garcia, Prannda Sharma, Mathilde Poussin, Alina C. Boesteanu, Nicholas G. Minutolo, Sarah B. Gitto, Dalia K. Omran, Matthew K. Robinson, Gregory P. Adams, Fiona Simpkins, and Daniel J. Powell, Jr.
Molecular Therapy (2019),
Imaging Collagen Alterations in STICs and High Grade Ovarian Cancers in the Fallopian Tubes by Second Harmonic Generation Microscopy
Eric C. Rentchler, Kristal L. Gant, Ronny Drapkin, Manish Patankar and Paul J. Campagnola,*
Cancers 2019, 11, 1805; doi:10.3390/cancers11111805.
CD105 Is Expressed in Ovarian Cancer Precursor Lesions and Is Required for Metastasis to the Ovary
Shoumei Bai, Wanhong Zhu, Lan Coffman, Anda Vlad, Lauren E. Schwartz, Esther Elishaev, Ronny Drapkin and Ronald J Buckanovich
Cancers 2019, 11, 1710; doi:10.3390/cancers11111710.
Innervation of cervical carcinoma is mediated by cancer-derived exosomes
Christopher T. Lucido, Emily Wynja, Marianna Madeoa, Caitlin S.Williamson, Lauren E. Schwartz, Brittney A. Imblumc, Ronny Drapkin, Paola D. Vermeer
Gynecol Oncol. 2019 Jul;154(1):228-235.

Contact Us
Ovarian Cancer Research Center Tumor BioTrust Collection
Ehay Jung, Technical Director
Smilow CTR 08-191A
3400 Civic Center Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: 215-746-5137
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