8 SEPTEMBER 2016 b ALNmag.com
DESIGN | Jennifer Swedell, Antoinette Bunkley, and Jennifer Andrews
The NIH defines a core facility as a “centralized shared research resource that provides access to instruments,
technologies, and services.” Vivariums, a
core facility by definition, are often discretely located away from research labs
and are separated by floor or by building
from other core facilities.
Intentional placement of vivaria, in
basements, separate wings, or even separate buildings, away from other resources,
is important for biosecurity, animal health
and safety, and regulatory compliance.
However, this can create a bottleneck for
certain types of research where smaller
cohort studies are used.
This is sometimes solved by bringing
the core facility into the vivarium. For
example, when a researcher has an imaging need, if the vivarium is setup with its
own MRI, PET or CT, the workflow and
data capture cycle can be much more efficient. Because of space and funding challenges, most vivaria do not have dedicated
imaging resources so researchers must
transport an animal elsewhere, creating
inefficiencies in workflow.
ADVANCES IN IMAGING
In recent decades, advances in in vivo
imaging, multi-modal imaging, and data
processing have resulted in an increasingly
inverse relationship of imaging power to
cost. The ability to visualize in more pow-
erful ways in smaller footprints has driven
animals out of the vivarium and closer to
Convergence of innovations in
ever-smaller instrumentation footprints
have made their way out of core facilities
and into the labs. Microscopy, spectros-
copy, optics, and other imaging tools that
would have been located in a core facility
a decade ago or weren’t invented yet are
now standard in neuroscience, biophysics,
bioengineering, and biochemistry labs.
Instead of one expensive imaging
resource shared by several researchers, a
single PI may have several sophisticated
imaging setups supporting their work. To
get the most efficient workflow out of the
experiments used with these tools, animals
need to be closer to the labs.
BRINGING THE VIVARIUM TO THE LAB
Three case studies, the University of
Arizona’s Phoenix Biomedical Campus, a
lab at Caltech and the new UC San Diego
Biological and Physical Sciences building, illustrate three different approaches
to embedding satellite vivaria into the
Each of the case studies were designed
to meet AAALAC requirements.
CASE STUDY: CALTECH
At Caltech, one neuroscientist’s research
measuring sensory processing demanded
two modes of imaging to visualize brain
activity at different timescales and resolutions.
The researcher shared a sophisticated
multi-photon assembly with temperature control and low-particulate air
management and a separate confocal imaging room with one other PI.
Immediately adjacent to the imaging
rooms were modular, flexible benching
and several curtained electrophysiology
Rather than make constant trips to
the main vivarium in another part of
the building, an animal suite consisting
of three rooms (Holding, Microscopy,
and Surgery) was planned down to the
very last inch and placed in an inconspicuous corner of the lab.
The 7,000 SF project was a renovation for two research labs in an existing
post-war concrete building. The project
delivery method was Design-Build and
completed in 13 months from planning
The renovation at Caltech turned a poorly lit corridor and closed off labs into a highly transparent and flexible laboratory suite.
Core Facilities and Satellite
Can They Coexist?