Biological Anthropology

Facilities

The Laboratory is located within the Anthropology Department at Northwestern University. It also serves as home to the methodology core for Cells to Society, The Center on Social Disparities and Health at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research.

It is comprised of 1,500 square feet of Biosafety Level 2 certified wet-lab space with additional resources available for data analysis.

The laboratory is fully equipped to support immunoassay analysis of human blood, saliva, and urine, as well as the assessment of body composition, energy expenditure, and cardiovascular function.

Equipment

Laboratory equipment includes:

Luminex Multiplex Assay System

The laboratory has invested in the next generation of immunoassay technology with the Luminex flow analyzer.  Instead of coating plates or tubes with capture antibody, this immunoassay system uses polystyrene microspheres with unique fluorescent signatures as the solid phase.  Capture antibody is bound to the microspheres, and then incubated with the sample and reporter antibody.  The microspheres pass single-file through a flow cytometer, which identifies the microsphere and quantifies the amount of analyte bound to its surface.  Currently, 100 bead sets are available, thereby allowing one to measure—in theory—up to 100 different analytes in the same sample, at the same time, using 100 different sets of beads. The sensitivity and low sample volume required for this method promise to expand the range of factors that can be measured in saliva and whole blood spots from finger pricks. 

Read more about our mission to develop and validate assays using whole blood spots collected on filter paper. We have developed methods for measuring aspects of immune function (antibodies against the Epstein-Barr virus, total IgE) and inflammation (CRP), as well as measures of nutritional status (Transferrin receptor, Leptin).

Biomek NXp Laboratory Automation Workstation

The "robot" provides the lab with a flexible platform for high-throughput immunoassay analysis. The system includes an 8-channel pipetter, gripper, and integrated platewasher and multi-node platereader. A dedicated computer controls the system, and automates steps associated with liquid handling and data reduction.