Facilities

We have invested significantly in our neuroscience facilities to ensure that our researchers have access to the highest quality scientific technologies to undertake neuroscience research.   

Across our three neuroscience research strands, we have a range of outstanding specialist facilities.  These scientific facilities are led and run by expert and experienced scientists, who carry out large scale research projects and aid collaboration across Sheffield Neurosciences. 

Find out more about our facilities:

Translational Neuroscience

Neuroimaging

Preclinical and Experimental Neuroimaging

Sensory Neuroscience

Translational Neuroscience

Genomics and Sequencing

The facility has several years experience as an Affymetrix accredited laboratory to house and run an Affymetrix Gene Chip Microarray system.  It has recently extended capacity to include an Illumina HiScan SQ system for sequencing by synthesis (NGS) and further microarray facility.

Neuropathology and Histology

The Neuropathology lab can provide a wide range of services for tissue preparation and staining. We have a full range of histology equipment, including tissue processor, semi-automated microtome which can accommodate jumbo blocks, cryostat and automated Immunostainer.

Computational Biology 

Our computational biologists work closesly with clinicians and neuroscientists to develop mathematical models which assimilate data from clinical studies and biological experiments. As we acquire more data we can improve the model and help in the design of the next experiment. Through iterating between mathematical models and experiments we can improve our understanding of disease and deliver more effective treatments.

Drug Discovery

The Drug Discovery laboratory established within SITraN has state of the art equipment to undertake a comprehensive drug discovery programme for neurodegenerative disorders. Our equipment allows optimized storage of our test drugs and compounds in a fully automated system using dry nitrogen. High-throughput liquid dispensing systems allow large scale screening experiments to be conducted rapidly and with minimal, and thus most efficient, use of the test compounds.

RNA and Molecular Biology

The RNA Biology Laboratory was established in SITraN using state of the art equipment. We are set up to carry out a broad variety of biochemistry and molecular biology techniques ranging from the genetic engineering of cell models, the isolation of macromolecular complexes and RNA, the purification of recombinant proteins, the characterisation of biological interactions to the use of radiolabelled proteins and nucleic acids.   

Neuroimaging

Human and Clinical Neuroimaging

Our human brain imaging facilities are expanding. As well as carrying out neuroimaging research studies in some unique patient cohorts, we have a track record of local, national and international collaboration in areas ranging from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and epilepsy, to cognitive neuroscience and psychiatric disease.

Research-Dedicated 3T Philips Ingenia MR Scanner

Housed within the Royal Hallamshire Hospital (Sheffield Teaching Hospitals), this system, funded by the Wellcome Trust, enables access to in-patients which is unusual for university research-dedicated scanners. This provides major academic as well as clinical translational advantages. 

Two 1.5T MR Scanners

One of these systems is currently being renewed as part of the substantial MRC POLARIS grant. This will include specialist hyperpolarised 129Xe imaging with important applications for cerebral and cerebrovascular physiology research.

FIREFLY-Neonatal 3T brain imaging

This is a novel 3T design prototype MR scanner manufactured by GE Medical Systems and funded by the Wellcome Trust. It is sited on the neonatal unit in the Jessop Wing (Sheffield Teaching Hospitals).

Imaging Applications and Processing

Our scanners are equipped for fMRI, multinuclear MRI, imaging hyperpolarised contrast agents, diffusion tensor imaging, arterial spin labelling, MR spectroscopy and quantitative vascular flow assessment. The existing image processing facility is currently being enlarged and refurbished with new image computing infrastructure as part of the MRC funded POLARIS project.

EEG Facilities

State-of-the-art high density (128 channel) EEG systems (e.g. Biosemi Active II and Electrical Geodiscs). We use a range of techniques to analyze data including; event related potentials (ERPs), dipole modelling, spectral and wavelet analyses, and independent component analysis.

Preclinical and Experimental Neuroimaging

Our preclinical neuroimaging team has a strong reputation in neurovascular research and understanding the physiological basis of non-invasive brain imaging signals such as fMRI. Together, our facilities provide for multiscale readouts of brain function and dysfunction applicable to a wide range of neuroscience questions

Preclinical MRI Facility

State of the art high field (7 Tesla) MRI facility available for neuroscience research. Includes laboratory apparatus for a wide range of in-vivo experimental work. We have specific expertise in developing techniques to enable concurrent MRI and a wide range of other research techniques, including optical imaging and electrophysiological recording.

Optical Imaging Laboratories

Facilities for high resolution imaging of cortical activity using intrinsic signals and spectroscopic analysis to determine blood oxygenation and volume changes. Also available for voltage sensitive dye imaging and other applications where high spatiotemporal resolution imaging of brain function is required.

Brain Blood flow Imaging and Metabolic Measurements

Portable laser speckle system for high resolution blood flow imaging in addition to high sensitivity thermal imaging camera; multimodal probes for tissue oxygen, temperature and point blood flow measurement; systems can be used concurrently with multisite electrode arrays for detailed neurophysiological investigations. 

Confocal and Multiphoton Microscopy

Providing very high resolution in-vivo imaging of signals arising from both intrinsic (e.g. hemoglobin oxygenation, vessel diameter) and extrinsic (e.g. calcium indicator dyes) contrasts, taking our imaging capability to the cellular level. For imaging of subcellular processes, please see ‘Microscopy’ under Sensory Neuroscience , below.

 

Sensory Neuroscience

Animal models

Our facilities are fully equipped and supported by expert, technical expertise with the capability to generate, maintain and screen a range of animal models for research and for human disease. Our Biological Services Unit supports our mammalian models, and we have one of the largest zebrafish facilities in the UK and fully equipped fly laboratories. All enjoy skilled technical support.

Microscopy

There are dedicated facilities for light microscopy and electron microscopy , which are complemented by the ambitious project ‘Imagine’ which provides state-of-the-art techniques in imaging from molecular structures to whole organisms. The Wolfson Light Microscopy Facility includes confocal, widefield imaging, super resolution and light sheet fluorescence microscopy.

Molecular, cell and organism screening

We have several complementary screening facilities including high content microscopy and time-lapse microscopy, flow cytometry mass spectroscopy, high-throughput RNAi screens with Drosophila cells, and a small molecule screening unit for zebrafish. We also have a unit for production of induced pluripotent stem cells from human fibroblasts and other cell types. Next generation sequencing [edit this and include Link].

Workshops

Mechanical and electronics workshops support the construction and maintenance of experimental equipment.