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Research Information

The Cell Model and Evaluation Core was established in 2007 and is currently organized on the basis of the well-established notion that CF morbidity and mortality can be mitigated by an improved understanding of defective CFTR channel function in the disease and its phenotypic consequences. To support this, the Core provides expertise, training, resources, and specialized equipment in three areas.

Core Function #1: Procure, grow, and distribute well-differentiated primary human epithelial cells and organoids from CF and non-CF donors.

Capabilities Include:
  • Specimen procurement and primary cell growth and expansion – human bronchial epithelial cells and human nasal epithelial cells
  • Organoid expansion and differentiation - organoids derived from rectal biopsies and brush biopsies of nasal epithelium
  • Evolution of techniques for differentiation at air-liquid interface
  • Quality assurance – assessments for morphology, infection, de-differentiated growth characteristics, ciliary beating, and mucociliary transport at multiple stages during growth and expansion, including the original harvest, de-differentiated expansion in flasks, and seeding on filters. Also includes support for IRB submission, material transfer agreements, and HIPPA compliance
  • Clinical data repository maintenance - clinical data is available on every remnant bronchial tissue, nasal tissue, human nasal epithelial cell brush biopsy, and rectal biopsy to derive organoid-starting tissue collected and expanded within the Core. A unique study ID links the samples collected allowing studies of tissues and cells to be compared with genetic, inflammatory, and other markers found in these samples. DNA information, patient demographics, lung function, colonization status, clinical history, and smoking status are maintained for each sample
  • Availability and distribution of epithelial cells
If you are an established user of primary airway cells, to request primary human airway epithelial cells, please contact Marina Mazur at maz@uabmc.edu.

If you are a new user, please contact Heather Hathorne at hhathorne@uab.peds.edu to assist with regulatory documentation required to become an established user.

Core Function #2: Conduct Functional Anatomic Imaging of airway and other epithelia by 1-micron Resolution Optical Coherence Tomography (μOCT) in vitro and ex vivo.

μOCT was developed in collaboration with Guillermo Tearney, MD, PhD at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University. μOCT is an innovative technique that provides real-time imaging of airway epithelia, and can quantitatively determine airway surface liquid (ASL)/periciliary layer (PCL) depth, ciliary beat frequency (CBF), mucociliary transport (MCT), and mucus viscosity of living cells and tissues in situ without contrast dyes or fixation. Analysis provides an ideal system for complex characterization of agents thought to alter ion transport, ciliary beating, or properties of the mucus while also providing new insight towards CF pathophysiology. Since introduced, the technique has been widely adopted, and is designated a National Core Resource.

Capabilities include:
  • μOCT Measurements - well-differentiated primary epithelial cells (of human or non-human origin), intact full-thickness tissue of human origin (from the airways, GI tract, or other tissues)
  • μOCT image acquisition, data analysis, and validation
Selected Publications

Core Function #3: Perform and Assist with Measures of CFTR Activity and Expression.

The Core provides both traditional and innovative techniques including:
  • Transepithelial short-circuit currents by Ussing chamber
  • Transepithelial conductance (Gt) measurements in polarized monolayers
  • Digital droplet PCR for absolute CFTR mRNA expression analysis and Western blot
The Core can also contextualize analysis and provide quality assurance on findings, facilitating interpretations and translation, and incorporate mechanistic studies through related Cores. 

Contact Information

Core users are associated both within and beyond the CF Research Center; there is no limitation on who may access the Core. For additional information, please contact:

George Solomon, MD

George Solomon, MD

Co-Director, Cell Model and Evaluation Core
Jennifer Guimbellot, M.D., Ph.D

Jennifer Guimbellot, M.D., Ph.D

Co-Director, Cell Model and Evaluation Core