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STI Research Cores

The Starzl Transplantation Institute's Core Facilities offer broad-based support and services to its clinical, research, academic, and administrative areas. This consolidation of skills, resources, and technologies makes them readily available to all STI researchers, and allows for a standardized product across laboratories. Each core facility provides services to some or all of STI's components.

Thomas E. Starzl Biomedical Science Tower

The majority of the STI's Core Facilities are housed in a 17-floor, purpose-built research facility. Institute investigators conduct much of their laboratory research in the Institute's research facilities on the 15th floor.

The building features eight levels of flexible, modular laboratory space that can undergo major alterations within a few days to adapt to continuously evolving research needs. Typically, labs in the Biomedical Science Tower are sized at 400 and 600 square feet. However, removing walls between rooms allows up to 2,400 feet of lab space. This innovative design earned Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates high honors in the 1991 Laboratory of the Year Award presented by Research & Development Magazine. Additional renovations  were completed in 2007 which modernized the Starzl Transplantation Institute laboratories into a 21st century design, including an increased efficiency of space usage, and ensuring maximum interactions between investigators.

Flow Cytometry

STI Flow Core was established in 2006.  In January 2015, the core was merged with other three flow cores (Immunology, Rheumatology and VMI) into the “Unified Flow Core”.  Please see the new website for the detailed information.


Fluorescent Microscopy

The microscopy core of the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute is equipped with a bright-field and fluorescence microscope (Nikon Eclipse E 800) and an inverted fluorescence microscope. The microscopes are equipped with appropriate filters that allow one to perform up to four-color fluorescence imaging of tissue sections or cytospins and with a cooled CCD camera and computer software capable of acquiring, storing and editing high resolution images of the specimens. The faculty and staff of the Starzl Institute also have access to the Center for Biological Imaging, directed by Dr. Simon C. Watkins, Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Pittsburgh (http://www.cbi.pitt.edu/), to perform more sophisticated imaging techniques (e.g., confocal and two-photon intravital microscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and immuno-electron-microscopy).

For more information, please contact:
Adrian Morelli, M.D., Ph.D.
(412) 624-2193


This laboratory provides developmental and specialized testing for clinical research specimens and provides services routinely available in clinical laboratories. The facility supports basic and translational research needs in the development of new treatment modalities, as well basic and clinical research projects. 

For more information, please visit our website at: www.rhslab.pitt.edu   
Or Contact us at: 
Research Histology Services 

Human Immunology and Immunologic Monitoring

This core facility provides the facilities and expertise for immunologic monitoring in animal research and clinical trials. The tests performed here aid in monitoring rejection and development of tolerance, while increasing understanding of basic immune mechanisms.

Cellular immunity is tested using in vitro assays measuring proliferation, cytotoxicity, and cytokine production by the immune cells. Humoral immunity is tested using state-of-the-art solid assays that detect the presence of HLA-specific alloantibodies.

For more information, please contact:

Diana Metes, PhD
(412) 648-3291
Beth Elinoff, RN, MPH, CCRC
Human Immunology Research Coordinator
(412) 624-6611
fax (412) 624-6666

Intravital Imaging Facility

The Intravital Imaging Facility contains an Olympus Fluoview MPE FV 1000 multiphoton microscope and image analysis stations equipped with Imaris and Volocity softwares.  

For more information, please contact:
Fadi G. Lakkis, MD
Chair, Tissue Utilization Committee
Scientific Director
Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute
(412) 383-5774

Pharmacokinetics and Therapeutic Drug Monitoring

This laboratory participates in both clinical and basic science research. In addition to supporting ongoing clinical trials, its functions include developing new drug monitoring assays and providing pharmacokinetic profiles of immunosuppressive drugs and other drugs used in transplant patients. The facility utilizes laboratories located in the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and the Biomedical Science Tower.

For more information, please contact:
Raman Venkataramanan , Ph.D.
(412) 648-8547

Sample Biorepository

The Sample Biorepository is a blood and tissue repository for all adult patients being evaluated for abdominal organ transplantation or who have undergone abdominal organ transplantation at the Starzl Transplantation Institute, and their associated donors.

Samples (PBMCs, serum, plasma, urine, and biopsy tissues) are prospectively collected, processed, and banked using standard operating procedure technologies and high-quality biologic materials.  A comprehensive database links banked specimens to clinical information.

The collection of these samples are to support investigators studying the immunopathogenesis of allograft injury or the mechanisms of graft acceptance (tolerance), to identify biomarkers that predict patient and graft outcomes, or to promote the development of cellular therapies to improve patient and graft outcome.

Access to biorepository samples will be provided to investigators with IRB-approved studies that are in accordance with the aims of the Starzl Transplantation Institute and the Divisions of Transplant Surgery and Transplant Pathology. The STI Tissue Utilization Committee will review and approve disbursement requests from investigators.

For more information, please contact:
Fadi G. Lakkis, MD
Chair, Tissue Utilization Committee
Scientific Director
Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute
(412) 383-5774