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 labEquipmentFunction 
Imaging & ElectrophysiologySpinning 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 camerasElectrophysiology, 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 cameraUsed to illustrate the calcium status of a cell, tissue or medium
Histology – Leica equipmentMotorized 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 systemsEight stand-alone portable stationsLow-volume sampling for live animals
Surgical suitesMultiple digital stereotaxic and anesthesia stations – portable and stationary 
Animal behavioural testing – Coulbourn InstrumentsAcoustic 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 CoulbournAnimal 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 unitsLight cycle control
Pathogen-free animal colony864 mouse cages 
 324 rat cages 
 STERIS cage and rack washer 
 Medium STERIS sterilizer 
 Six animal change stations 
Electrochemistry – GMA and QuanteonTwo complete stationsChronoamperometry and amperometry
Human testing labsBehavioural 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 vehicleBehavioural testing 
 EEG/ERP 
 SR Research eye-tracking 
Molecular characterizationMass spectrometer- Thermo Orbitrap DiscoveryProteomics, metabolomics, method development
 Accela LCLiquid chromatography
 Gene expression analysis – Beckman Coulter GeXPGene expression, DNA sequencing, SNP, STR, oligonucleotide purity, AFLPs
 2D fractionation – Beckman Coulter PF 2DMostly for complex mixtures of biomolecules, e.g. proteins, glycosylated compounds, lipids, etc.
 Capillary electrophoresis – Beckman Coulter PA800 with UV and LIF detectionSeparation of biomolecules using electrophoresis; can be an off-line fraction collector for mass spectrometry
 Beckman HPLC with UV and EC detectionChromatographic separation and quantitation using UV or electrochemical detection
 Beckman 880 microplate readerReader for proteins assays
 UV spectrophotometer - BeckmanBuilt-in programs for protein assay, kinetics, micro cuvette available
 Centrifugation including ultra- 
 electroporator/multiporator 
 Thermal cyclersAmplify segments of DNA via polymerase chain reaction
 Informatics software – Proteome Discoverer, MaxQuant