About us

The Cellular Health and Metabolism Facility (CHMF) supports real-time cellular analysis research using gold standard methodologies. 

The CHMF is one of many core research facilities within the College of Life and Environmental Sciences. The CHMF is currently directed by Dr Alex Wadley and Dr Jonathan Barlow and is located in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

The University of Birmingham’s CHMF is the only organisation within the United Kingdom that offers wide user access and fee for service options for probing cellular health and metabolism in real-time. All of this is made possible by combining gold standard technologies including high resolution respirometry, extracellular flux analysis and atmospheric controlled mulitmode optical plate reader assays. The overall aim of the CHMF is to provide expertise in cellular health and metabolism assay development, design and analysis to basic and clinical researchers at University of Birmingham, national and international collaborators; and industrial partners.

Why is celluar health and metabolism important?

Cell metabolism encompasses life-sustaining chemical reactions that occur within all cells and tissues. Energy synthesising pathways are central hubs for fuelling such biochemical transformations and play an essential role in maintaining cellular and metabolic health. Between glucose oxidation and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, both glycolysis and mitochondria are central to meeting the energetic demands of a given cell. Not surprisingly, these roles are highly integrated, such that any perturbation in the machinery responsible for energy synthesis may result in substantial effects on the metabolic fate of a cell. 

Over the last two decades it has become increasingly important to identify and quantify changes in specific components that constitute cellular health and metabolism for understanding relationships between cellular bioenergetics and cellular health as a result of changes to a cells phenotype.

State-of-the-art platforms

Thanks to technical developments, measurements of cellular metabolism as an indicator of glycolytic and mitochondrial function have become more mainstream in recent years. Such developments include state-of-the-art platforms capable of measuring cellular metabolism in real-time from a variety of models and systems. Included in these platforms are the Oroboros O2K-FluoRespirometer and the Aglient Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyzer, both of which enable simultaneous measurements of glycolytic and oxidative flux for assessment of glycolytic and mitochondrial activity in a variety of samples from whole pieces of tissue or fibres to suspended and intact cells. With the addition of our new CLARIOstar Plus BMG Labtech Multimode Plate reader with atmospheric control, we can also now multiplex or combine real-time metabolic assays with real-time measurements of cellular health, including viability, cytotoxicity, and apoptosis. Moreover, we can offer high-throughput methods to examine metabolite usage and production, such as glucose and lactate all from the same experimental sample.  

The University of Birmingham’s Cellular Health and Metabolism Facility is proud to offer full access to these state-of-the art platforms to support cellular health and metabolic research both nationally and internationally. We offer a full range of services that covers research using basic cell-based models through to clinical samples. Current users of our facility are involved with assessing cellular health and metabolism in a range of cell culture models as well as primary tissues including skeletal muscle, immune cells, platelets, neurons, astrocytes, microglia, adipose tissue, fibroblasts, cancer cells, and drosophila under a range of clinical scenarios such as drug development, diabetes, exercise, cancer, obesity, liver disease, atherosclerosis, sarcopenia, aging, sepsis, trauma and necrosis. Our services also support the pharmaceutical industry to examine the effect of novel drugs on mitochondrial and cellular toxicity.