Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Molecular Biology Core Laboratory

Research - Molecular Biology Core Laboratory


Zheng-Zheng Shi, Ph.D.

Research Fellow

Valentina, Rubio Calva
Jiawei Zhang

Mission Statement

The Molecular Biology Core Laboratory of the Houston Methodist Radiology Services at Houston Methodist Research Institute is a core resource that provides molecular cloning, macromolecule (DNA, RNA, and protein) analysis, cell culture, and cellular studies. The core is open to all investigators within the department and their research collaborators on the basis of “self-service”. The core personnel are committed to maintaining all equipment and instruments at high-levels of performance, and also to providing training and expert consultation in the fields of molecular biology and cell biology. The overall goals of the Molecular Biology Core Laboratory are to lead the discovery of novel biological targets for molecular imaging, and to support the department in its effort to develop novel imaging agents/probes and novel methods of imaging-guided therapy.

Research Interest

  • To develop DNA constructs that express multiple or fused reporter genes for multimodality molecular imaging
  • To develop and optimize cell labeling methods that uptake imaging probes (such as optical probes, MRI contrast, and/or radioactive tracers) and enable in vivo cell imaging and trafficking
  • To provide cell culture and the related assays with an emphasis on safety and efficacy assessment in support of the development and optimization of imaging agents, therapeutic compounds and agents, and nanoparticles
  • To support research activities in searching for therapeutic targets and disease biomarkers from human genome as candidates of novel imaging targets


  • Cloning and subcloning: thermal cycler (Eppendorf AG Thermal Cycler), stationary incubator (Fisher Scientific), shaking incubator (MaxQ 4000), water baths and heat blocks, Eppendorf microfuges, gel electrophoresis units, and gel imaging systems
  • Gene expression analysis: quantitative (real-time) PCR (Biorad MJ Mini Personal Thermal Cycler), protein electrophoresis, and Western blotting apparatus
  • Macromolecule quantification and analysis (including colorimetric, bioluminescence, and fluorescence): microplate reader (BMG FLUOstar OPTIMA) and Nanodrop spectrophotometer
  • Cell culture: two laminar flow hoods (Thermo Electron Corporation, Forma Class II, A2), an inverted microscope (Nikon TS100), a multi-purpose centrifuge (Eppendorf Centrifuge 5415 R), and three CO2 incubators
  • Other lab essentials: Milli-Q water purification system, refrigerators, -80°C freezer, and liquid nitrogen cryogenic freezers

Active Projects

The Molecular Biology Core Laboratory was established in 2007 using funds provided by Houston Methodist Radiology Services, Houston Methodist Research Institute, it receives ongoing support from the department.