North Dakota Behavioral Research Core Facility (BRCF)
The BRCF was established in 2015 to promote and strengthen behavioral research in North Dakota. The facility is designed to increase productivity in biomedical and translational research in behavioral science by providing 1) well-managed and maintained state-of-the-art behavioral testing equipment; 2) methodological and technical support; 3) training in behavioral testing and analysis; and 4) interface for interactions among researchers to facilitate collaborations. To accommodate for increasing demands in use, the BRCF has expanded to a newly renovated space as an annex of the Center for Biomedical Research (CBR) and hired a full-time Research Specialist for the operation and management of the equipment and facility. The new 5-room facility houses a sensory-motor skills assessment room, a cognitive function assessment room, and a neurostimulation laboratory, a procedure room, and a temporary animal holding room. The sensory-motor and cognitive function assessment rooms are equipped with a variety of specialized equipment for assessment and monitoring of animal behavior, complete with multiple licensed analysis software (ANY-maze, Stoelting). These devices include open-field activity monitoring, grip strength, startle response, place preference, active/passive avoidance, freeze monitoring, balance performance, rotational behavior, learning and memory performance, and anxiety/depression-like behavior (San Diego Instruments and Stoelting Co.). With the recent acquisition of multiple test devices, the BRCF is capable of assessing up to 6 animals simultaneously. The neurostimulation laboratory is equipped with a Pinnacle Optogenetics and Sleep-deprivation Systems for the analysis of animal behavior resulting from precisely controlled activation of targeted neuronal populations with light or sleep deprivation. These systems are used for in vivo monitoring of electrophysiological activities as well as neurochemical modifications. A comprehensive list of our equipment is provided in BRCF’s regularly updated website, https://med.und.edu/research/behavior-research-core/index.html#d20e112-4.
In addition to the infrastructure, the BRCF provides training and networking opportunities for IDeA state investigators to interact and collaborate with other researchers. The facility is conveniently located within the Center for Biomedical Research (CBR) and dedicated for behavioral assessments, tissue collection and housing for mice. The BRCF is jointly supported by the North Dakota INBRE and the Dakota Cancer Collaborative on Translational Activity (DaCCoTA) Clinical and Translational Research grants, the Department of Pathology, and the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences.