More than 250 Northwestern graduate students, researchers and scientists gathered at Silverman Hall in July for the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute’s Core Crawl, an annual networking event and facilities expo. While enticing researchers with craft beer, pizza and ice cream, the program showcased CLP’s growing portfolio of shared research facilities used to develop next-generation molecular therapeutics and diagnostics for cancer, heart disease, rare orphan diseases and other intractable health conditions.

CLP provides investigators across Northwestern as well as users from industry and other research institutions access to highly specialized instrumentation as well as PhD-level expertise.

“I am conducting research in the Scott Lab and wanted to learn about the resources available to conduct this research,” says Josh Laughran who participated in the Crawl. “I learned about a lot of the possible tests that we could run in the future for our experiments and specifically which cores we can work with to complete the research.” Resident CLP faculty member, Evan A. Scott, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and his team deploy novel engineering- and materials-based strategies to treat and better understand heart disease, vaccination and immune dysregulation.

In addition to poster exhibits, the “Crawl” included mini-consultations, demonstrations and tours of CLP facilities.  Operators and technicians explained how the facilities work together to advance innovative, transdisciplinary biomedical research. Event sponsors MilliporeSigma and Fisher Scientific also answered questions and provided information about their products and services, many of which are used by the cores.

Advancing research across disciplines

CLP plays a critical role in accelerating research across the University. Approximately 75 administrative, technical and research staff at the Institute support 58 affiliated faculty, like Scott and other investigators, working at the interface of the physical sciences, chemistry, medicine, and life sciences.  In fact, Institute experts have served as co-investigators on $95 million in grant awards, including a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center grant award for Northwestern’s Physical Sciences-Oncology Center.

ChemCore, a CLP facility, offers computational, medicinal and synthetic chemistry services to support drug discovery research at Northwestern and externally.

ChemCore offers computational, medicinal and synthetic chemistry services to support drug discovery research at Northwestern and externally.

Jessica Hornick, operations director of the Biological Imaging Facility, one of eight facilities managed by CLP, says conversations with grad students at the Core Crawl help uncover the benefits of CLP collaboration. BIF images diverse samples from labs in molecular biosciences, neurobiology, bio-medical engineering, chemistry, physics and material sciences.

“Very often, people whose labs already have microscopes think, ‘I don’t need to go to BIF because I already have a microscope,’ without realizing that the microscopes we have are a little more advanced,” says Hornick.

“CLP combines all these seemingly disparate facilities into one collaborative unit that’s all working together,” says Keith MacRenaris, managing director of CLP’s Quantitative Bio-element Imaging Center. “If you are doing any sort of drug development or molecular pharmaceuticals you can do almost everything under one roof in Silverman Hall.

Written by Lisa La Vallee

View pictures from the July, 2018 Core Crawl.

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