Centre for Biological Timing and Cognition (CBTC)

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
What the facility does

Molecular and cellular basis of brain function

Areas of expertise

The Centre for Biological Timing and Cognition collaborates with researchers from academia, hospitals, and industry to advance research in sleep (disorders), hypoxia, circadian rhythms of disease, and neurogenesis. Its broad array of instrumentation, from long-term animal monitoring and dialysis (to collect samples from moving live animals), to molecular characterization, enables a researcher to observe a phenomenon in a controlled environment and then probe the molecular landscape using analytical techniques. With training, most instrumentation is available for independent use. This provides students with a space that is akin to their laboratory. The experienced staff is always available to provide guidance, experimental design, and mentoring. 

Research services

Confocal microscopy, tissue sectioning, bio-analysis - HPLC, CE, mass spectrometry, animal behaviour testing, method development, experiment design, technical assistance   

Sectors of application
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment

Specialized lab



Imaging & Electrophysiology

Spinning disc confocal system with FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) and FRAP (fluorescence resonance after photobleaching)

High-resolution, 3-D images of thick specimens – great for live cell applications of molecular diffusion, and active movement of cell component


Deconvolution and live cell imaging system on upright  microscope dual camera



Deconvolution and live cell imaging system on inverted microscope single camera



Two stereo microscopes with fibreoptic illumination



Two patch clamp systems for brain slice on automated microscopes – dual cameras

Electrophysiology, micromanipulation, for example, to measure the electric current passing through single membrane channels in cells


Calcium imaging system for cell physiology on automated microscope – dual camera

Used to illustrate the calcium status of a cell, tissue or medium

Histology – Leica equipment

Motorized cryostat (CM 3050S)

Cutting cryosections, rapid conversion of fresh tissue into microscope-ready sections; can prepare samples for laser capture microdissection


Floor standing tissue processor (300S)

Routine and research histopathology of up to 300 cassettes while minimizing carry-over


Motorized microtome (RM 2255)

Sectioning of paraffin- and resin-embedded specimens


Modular tissue embedding station (EG1150)

Can arrange embedding work flow in either direction


Vibrating blade microtome (VT1200S)

Fully automated fresh and fixed tissue sectioning


Programmable slide stainer and cover slipper


Microdialysis – bioanalytical systems

Eight stand-alone portable stations

Low-volume sampling for live animals

Surgical suites

Multiple digital stereotaxic and anesthesia stations – portable and stationary


Animal behavioural testing – Coulbourn Instruments

Acoustic startle – eight stations



Place preference – two stations



Elevated plus maze



Eight arm radial maze



Open field activity system – four stations



Shuttle avoidance system with shock – eight stations



Self-administration – four stations



Six Ccamber ISS system – six stations



Self-stimulation – four stations


Long-term animal monitoring and recording systems – respironics Minimitter and Coulbourn

Animal monitoring for 96 subjects



Core body temperature



Heart rate



Gross motor activity



Running wheel turns



Drinking/licking frequency



Feeding behavior



480 channels for activity monitoring



40 stainless steel isolation units

Light cycle control

Pathogen-free animal colony

864 mouse cages



324 rat cages



STERIS cage and rack washer



Medium STERIS sterilizer



Six animal change stations


Electrochemistry – GMA and Quanteon

Two complete stations

Chronoamperometry and amperometry

Human testing labs

Behavioural testing, including E-Prime (v1.2, v2.0Pro)



High-density (128 channels) EEG/ERP – two on-site and one mobile



SR Research Remote Eyelink II eye-tracking – two on site



Virage driving simulator



Online survey (Opinio)


Mobile human testing vehicle

Behavioural testing






SR Research eye-tracking


Molecular characterization

Mass spectrometer- Thermo Orbitrap Discovery

Proteomics, metabolomics, method development


Accela LC

Liquid chromatography


Gene expression analysis – Beckman Coulter GeXP

Gene expression, DNA sequencing, SNP, STR, oligonucleotide purity, AFLPs


2D fractionation – Beckman Coulter PF 2D

Mostly for complex mixtures of biomolecules, e.g. proteins, glycosylated compounds, lipids, etc.


Capillary electrophoresis – Beckman Coulter PA800 with UV and LIF detection

Separation of biomolecules using electrophoresis; can be an off-line fraction collector for mass spectrometry


Beckman HPLC with UV and EC detection

Chromatographic separation and quantitation using UV or electrochemical detection


Beckman 880 microplate reader

Reader for proteins assays


UV spectrophotometer - Beckman

Built-in programs for protein assay, kinetics, micro cuvette available


Centrifugation including ultra-






Thermal cyclers

Amplify segments of DNA via polymerase chain reaction


Informatics software – Proteome Discoverer, MaxQuant