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Core Muscle Research Laboratory

Established in October 2001, the Core Muscle Research Laboratory (MRL) serves as a core resource for the Birmingham VA Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) and the University of Alabama School of Medicine. The MRL provides resources and expertise to carry out molecular and cellular analyses of skeletal muscle. Tissue specimens typically analyzed include human muscle biopsy samples, surgical specimens, whole muscles from small laboratory animals, and human blood serum samples. A variety of tools are used to assess muscle fiber morphology, protein expression, gene expression, enzyme activities, and serum cytokine and metabolite concentrations.

The MRL is a fully renovated core facility located in the Birmingham Veteran's Affairs Medical Center Research Building. Renovations were completed in the fall of 2001 and the laboratory was stocked with all new equipment. The MRL consists of four wet laboratories, a fluorescence microscopy facility, a cell culture facility, and office space. The laboratory houses all equipment necessary to carry out experiments from sample preparation (including small animal dissection) to digitized image analysis.

A summary of major laboratory equipment includes: a fluorescence microscopy station, light microscopy station, a cryostat microtome, digital densitometry system (i.e., a digital darkroom with computer controlled CCD camera), two thermocyclers with an in situ hybridization module, fluorometer, spectrophotometer, speed vac lyophilizer, computer-controlled microplate reader, two refrigerated microcentrifuges, standard benchtop refrigerated centrifuge, tissue homogenizers, two ultra-low freezers, two incubators, two water purification systems, and additional equipment and supplies necessary for immunoblotting, mRNA expression studies, immunofluorescence microscopy, myofiber morphometry, primary tissue culture, and enzyme activity assays.

The overall aim of the director's research program is to elucidate mechanisms of muscle plasticity in response to various stimuli including loading, unloading, and aging. Currently the two primary interests are the etiology of age-related sarcopenia and molecular mechanisms of hypertrophy in older and younger men and women. Human muscle biopsy analyses are the primary focus, including protein and mRNA expression studies of contractile protein isoforms, enzymes, cytoskeletal proteins, myogenic regulatory factors, cell cycle regulators, and growth factors; studies of satellite muscle cells, both in situ and in primary tissue culture; and quantification of muscle fiber type, fiber size, and capillary supply.

Opportunity for faculty involvement:
Laboratory services are available to any funded investigator. Currently there are 3 investigators external to the MRL using its services. For future applications in which the MRL will be a proposed core resource, please contact the director to define experiments and establish costs prior to submitting the application. The MRL can incur minor expenses required to generate preliminary data in preparation for an application.

Additional information can be found at:

Facility contact person:

Marcas M Bamman, Ph.D., F.A.C.S.M.
Associate Professor, UAB Department of Physiology & Biophysics
Director, Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging Translational Research Program
Director, GRECC University of Alabama School of Medicine Core Muscle Research Laboratory
Director, GRECC Mobility and Exercise Facility
Director, GRECC Exercise Physiology Laboratory
Director, Exercise Science Internship Program
Birmingham VA Medical Center
VAMC 11G, zip 0001
(tel) (205) 558-7064
(fax) (205) 558-4749
Web site:

Leaders and Key Staff:.

  • Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., Director
  • Jeong-su Kim, Ph.D., Research Associate
  • John K Petrella, Ph.D., Research Associate
  • Melissa Baker, Research Assistant
  • David Kosek, Ph.D. Candidate
  • David Mayhew, M.D./Ph.D. Student

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