When Johns Hopkins scientists need cell media,
enzymes, a DNA sequence, large-scale genotype or just some
dry ice, a time-honored source is the
Genetic Resources Core
Facility, the university's version of a Research
The Genetic Resources Core Facility is made up of the
Core Store, DNA Analysis Facility, Cell Center, Fragment
Analysis Facility and the new SNP Center. The nonprofit
service center was founded in 1989 as a part of a program
to enhance services for researchers within the Department
of Genetics at the School of Medicine. Today, the facility
still falls under the auspices of the Institute of Genetic
Medicine but caters to hundreds of researchers based on the
Homewood, East Baltimore, APL and Bayview campuses.
"What happened," said Barbara Daily, director of the
Core Store, "is that researchers from other Johns Hopkins
departments saw the value of being able to put their hands
on a product really quickly, or a service very quickly, and
at a more reasonable price. Consequently, we spread out and
now service the entire university."
The Core Store is the largest of the GRCF divisions.
The store sells nearly 100,000 different products from
leading manufacturers such as American Life Science,
Invitrogen, New England Biolabs, Qiagen and Sigma. Common
items sold include cell media, enzymes, Taq DNA polymerase
and DNA gels. The store also sells lab equipment valued
under $2,500, including benchtop centrifuges and gel
Store products are available at a 15 percent discount,
on average, compared with outside vendors' prices; shipping
and handling are free. All goods are guaranteed to be
delivered within 24 hours to the buyer's lab or office.
Daily said that when she joined the Core Store in
1990, the facility sold roughly $60,000 worth of goods
annually. Last year, the store delivered $12.5 million
worth of products.
Orders can be placed by phone, fax or online, or
customers can simply stop by the store, located on the 10th
floor of The Johns Hopkins Hospital's Blalock Building.
"The pure convenience of having the store here at
Johns Hopkins is huge. Researchers don't have to plan ahead
for their research needs," Daily said. "They know the
products are always here at the Core, so if they need
something last minute they can come in the store and get
it. It's one-stop shopping. You can get products from four
to five vendors in one shot, rather than dealing with them
individually, which could be very time-consuming."
The GRCF's Cell Center mission is to provide expertise
and service in all aspects of mammalian cell culture. Among
its services, the Cell Center sells dry ice, stores cell
samples, grows cell lines, transforms B-lymphocytes and
performs mycoplasma testing, a procedure to detect the
organisms that can attack a cell and infect an entire cell
The DNA Analysis Facility is the university's primary
source for all DNA sequencing and synthesis needs. The
facility can create DNA templates, genotype, offer plasmid
preparation and synthetically create strands of DNA to the
customer's specifications. The results of all sequencing
can be posted online, so a researcher can gain access to
their data even if they are abroad.
Julie Shotwell, service center project coordinator for
the Genetic Resources Core Facility, said that the DNA
Analysis Facility at Johns Hopkins is one of the most
sophisticated services of its kind.
"One thing that our DNA Analysis Facility does that is
a little different from other vendors is that our
researchers get a fully furnished oligo with all of the
corresponding paperwork," Shotwell said. "A lot of the
other facilities out there may charge less per base, but
you get a more crude product and you have to spend time
trying to figure out the concentrations. We have it ready
The Fragment Analysis Facility offers genomic DNA
isolation from blood, buffy coats, cultured cells and
buccal swabs. It creates for each customer a database where
all the sample information is stored. The facility also
offers polymorphism development and analysis of single
nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs.
For SNP analysis on a much larger scale, the SNP
Center was founded last year. Located at the Bayview
Medical Center, the SNP Center is a high through-put
genotyping facility that features Illumina's BeadArray
technology, a system that enables the analysis of thousands
of genotypes using a relatively small quantity of DNA. The
technology allows the center to supply whole genome linkage
mapping panels, fine mapping panels or custom SNP
Daily said that what researchers tell her they like
most about using the Genetic Resources Core Facility are
the price savings and the constant presence of
knowledgeable staff. "As compared to trying to track
someone down on the phone in California to get a product or
even just a sample," she said, "for many of our customers,
they can just walk down the hallway and talk to someone
face to face. We like to think that we are very integral to
the research projects that go on here. We're an asset, not
just a supplier."
Genetic Resources Core Facility
All hours are Monday to Friday.
The Core Store
1017 Blalock, East Baltimore campus
9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m (closed 1-2 p.m.)
1017B Blalock, East Baltimore campus
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Liquid nitrogen freezer access: 10 to 11:30 a.m.; 2 to 4
Dry ice: 9 to 10 a.m.; 2 to 4 p.m.
DNA Analysis Facility
1005 Blalock, East Baltimore campus
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
phone: sequencing services, 410-955-2836, synthesis,
Fragment Analysis Facility
Lighthouse Point East, suite 201, 2760 Boston St.
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
phone: 410-614-3830; fax: 410-614-3148
Triad Building, Bayview Medical Center (customer drop at
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.