The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Epicenter for Life Sciences

State-of-the-art facility puts the Institute for Applied Life Sciences on the map
  • Photo: microshot of biophysical characterization equipment.

IALS manages 30 core equipment facilities, available both to academic researchers and industry partners.

On October 21, a series of technical talks and building tours gave the general public a first look at the new state-of-the-art facilities at UMass Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS), a 65,000-square-foot site supporting world-class research and development. IALS aims to translate fundamental discoveries made on campus into novel candidate medical devices, biomolecules, and delivery vehicles that benefit human health.

The Institute offers a wide variety of tools needed to conduct research and development within one building. Moreover, it is advancing the university’s educational and economic development missions through training researchers skilled in the discovery, development, and manufacture of medical devices and biomolecules and in life science entrepreneurship.

IALS works in close collaboration with industry partners to combine the best academic innovation with a goal-directed focus on delivering commercially significant products, services, and technologies. It combines deep expertise from more than 175 faculty members associated with five schools and colleges and 28 departments, and is organized as three centers: the Center for Bioactive Delivery, the Models to Medicine Center, and the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring.

IALS manages 30 core equipment facilities, available both to academic researchers and industry partners. Below is a summary of just a few of these.

Biophysical Characterization Facility

This unique, state-of-the-art facility supports the study of interactions between biological macromolecules like proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and their complexes, and small molecule interactions with these macromolecules. It supports both discovery-based research and assay development for translational applications, such as the ability to pursue potential targets for drug discovery. The Biosaxs2000 (pictured in the banner image above) is used to elucidate and analyze crystal structures in proteins.


Sleep Monitoring Laboratory

Equipped for studies assessing sleep and sleep physiology, this laboratory has three rooms that can be used for polysomnography, the gold standard for sleep measurement. On-line sleep monitoring from a central control room allows for manipulations specific to the various sleep stages.


Human Magnetic Resonance Center

This facility houses a research-dedicated Siemens Skyra 3T scanner which will greatly expand the capabilities of campus research and beyond. It provides access to state-of-the-art noninvasive imaging and spectroscopy technologies for academic and industry-based research in central and western Massachusetts.


Human Motion Laboratory

Designed and equipped for the assessment of human movement (with or without robotic assistance) and the evaluation of wearable technologies, the Human Motion Laboratory is a large open space within the Human Testing Center. It supports a variety of studies evaluating the effects and interactions of human motion with sensors and behavior, sleep, aerobic fitness, strength, body composition, and muscle function. The lab is equipped with nine high-speed infrared motion-analysis cameras, three force platforms, and a collaborative robot arm.


Nikon Center of Excellence

This facility provides powerful resources for imaging cellular and biomaterials. It houses state-of-the-art equipment including a two-photon microscope, a resonant scanning confocal microscope, a spectral confocal microscope, a high-content microscope for automated imaging, and a FLIM-enabled microscope. Mammalian cell culture facilities are available as well as other routine needs for biological imaging. The facility is one of only six designated Nikon Centers of Excellence providing unique opportunities for training, demonstration, instrument development, and research.