The Scientific Core

The NMARC Scientific Core is a shared research resource that provides investigators with services, expertise and equipment that supports, enhances and integrates pre-clinical and clinical research to promote the common goals of the NMARC.  The Scientific core supports both Center Components and independently funded research project related to the NMARC Center's theme to expand the breadth of alcohol-focused research.

Kevin Caldwell

Dr. Kevin Caldwell, (KCaldwell@salud.unm.edu), Scientific Core Director

Scientific Core Mission:

  • Standardize and manage prenatal alcohol exposure models.
  • Facilitate research integration by allowing investigators to query relationships between their findings and those obtained in other research projects.
  • Support the development of new research and help implement novel, behavioral and alcohol exposure paradigms. 
  • Provide statistical support for all NMARC Center components. 
  • Provide opportunity for interaction among investigators through formal monthly Synergy Meetings.

Pre-Clinical Model Generation

The Scientific Core will produce and manage all pre-clinical research models prior to distribution to Center Investigators.  Scientific Core Staff maintains and tracks all environmental conditions, tracks all variables for models produced and maintains all relevant information in the NMARC Scientific Core database for future use.

Please contact Dr. Kevin Caldwell, (KCaldwell@salud.unm.edu), Scientific Core Director, for information regarding these services.

Pre-clinical Behavior Services

The Scientific Core manages a preclinical behavioral suite housing a variety of equipment for assessing behavior in pre-clinical models.  These behaviors include:

Learning and Memory Assessment

  • Fear Conditioning Paradigms (video recorded, blind scored)
  • Context Discrimination (video recorded, blind scored)
  • 8-way radial arm maze (automated tracking and scoring)
  • Morris Water Maze (automated tracking and scoring)
  • Y-maze olfactory discrimination (automated tracking and scoring)
  • Novel Object Recognition (automated tracking and scoring)

Mood-Anxiety and depression Assessments

  • Learned helplessness (video recorded, blind scored)
  • Forced Swim task (video recorded, blind scored)
  • Elevated plus maze (automated tracking and scoring)
  • Zero maze (automated tracking and scoring)
  • Startle response (automated scoring)
  • Social interaction (automated tracking and scoring)
  • Open field exploration (automated tracking and scoring)

Sensory and Motor Assessments

  • Pain threshold (blind scored)
  • Accelerating Rotarod (automated scoring)
  • Balance beam (blind scored)
  • Home cage behavior (automated tracking and scoring)
  • Prepulse inhibition (automated scoring)

Advanced Cognition/ Executive Control

  • Puzzle box (blind scored)
  • Attentional Set-Shifting (blind scored)
  • Acquisition, Extinction and Reinstatement of operant behavior (automated scoring)
  • Discrimination and Reversal Learning (automated scoring)

For access to the behavioral facility please contact:

Dr. Andrea Allan (aallan@salud.unm.edu) or Dr. Jonathan Brigman (jbrigman@salud.unm.edu).

Statistical Support Services

Preclinical

The NMARC Scientific Center Core uses SPSS and R as the primary computer analysis packages for statistical tests based on the general linear model, including univariate analysis of variance (ANOVA), univariate analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), multivariate ANOVA and ANCOVA (MANOVA, MANCOVA) and multiple regression analyses.

For research design planning and statistical support contact:

Dr. Allan (aallan@salud.unm.edu) and Dr. Hamilton (dahamilt@unm.edu)

Clinical
For clinical studies requiring SAS based multivariate and principal component analyses, NMARC center participants are directed to biostatisticians who serve in the Design, Biostatistics and Clinical Research Ethics (DBE) Core which is part of the UNM HSC CTSC.  The NMARC Scientific Core will subsidize the costs related to the use of the DBE for Center Investigators. 


DBE web site: http://hsc.unm.edu/research/ctsc/biostats_welcome.shtml

REDCap Database

REDCap is an open-source application developed for academic use by the REDCap Consortium, hosted at Vanderbilt University. The Consortium includes over 240 partner institutions on six continents with over 26,000 end users. REDCap provides convenient, secure, web-based data collection tools designed for investigators, including data entry forms and web surveying. The system is customizable and autonomous, with direct control of data and permissions.  Data can be exported to analysis formats including Microsoft Excel, PDF, SAS, Stata, R, or SPSS and investigators can create custom reports to view or download.  There are built-in project calendar and scheduling modules.  The system offers auto-validation, calculated fields, branching/skip logic, and survey stop actions. REDCap was designed specifically to protect patient privacy and confidentiality while assisting investigators in conducting clinical research.  System-level and application-level security features include:

  • SSL encryption of internet traffic (e.g. https pages)
  • Hosting in the secure UNM HSC data centers with centralized nightly backup
  • Sanitization of database inputs against scripting or SQL injection attacks
  • Fine-grained control over user rights
  • Detailed audit trails
  • Record-locking
  • De-identification functions for data export

Access to this system is free and available to all University of New Mexico (UNM) Health Sciences Center (HSC) staff, faculty, sponsored students, and sponsored affiliates with HSC NetID.  REDCap is supported by a full time IT technician who is employed for this purpose under UNM’s Clinical & Translational Science Center (CTSC).  The HSC REDCap installation is hosted in the HSC Data Center in cooperation with Health Sciences Center Library and Informatics Center (HSLIC) Technology Support. Training sessions and tutorials for using the REDCap system are offered through the UNM CSTC. 

RedCap web site  http://hsc.unm.edu/research/ctsc/redcap_info.shtml