Over the past several decades, advances in genetic engineering of rodent models have greatly facilitated the use of these tractable models to study nutrition, obesity, and related metabolic diseases. The use of mice and rats has advanced our understanding of pathogenic mechanisms and allowed for early-stage preclinical testing of potential therapeutic agents. However, sophisticated metabolic phenotyping can be technically challenging and require use of expensive instrumentation that is beyond the financial means of an individual investigator.

To this end, the Washington University NORC Diabetes Models Phenotyping Core has an overall goal of enabling animal research related to nutrition and obesity and to provide mechanistic insight into human disease by provision of consultation, training, and sophisticated instrumentation and services for mouse phenotyping.

This goal is pursued through two Specific Aims:

Specific Aim 1: To provide NORC investigators with key phenotyping services needed for nutrition/obesity-related research in animal models, including:

  1. High-precision standardized biochemical assays in serum and tissues, including triglycerides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids
  2. Body composition analysis
  3. Spontaneous activity, energy expenditure, and balance
  4. Evaluation of exercise endurance and its effects on metabolism
  5. In vivo characterization of intermediary metabolism by imaging approaches
  6. Evaluation of organ/tissue cross talk by measuring biodistribution of labeled exosomes (in coordination with the Cellular and Molecular Biology Core (CMBC))

Specific Aim 2: To provide consultation in experimental design and optimal use of Diabetes Models Phenotyping Core services for specific research projects, and training in procedures, assays, and use of instrumentation for investigators or their staff, in a broad range of technologies that facilitate the testing of hypotheses relevant to nutrition and obesity.

Core Description

The Diabetes Models Phenotyping Core facilitates research related to nutrition and obesity. The Core provides cost-effective specialized assays relevant to the nutrition and obesity mission of the NORC, access to well-characterized mouse models used in nutrition research, services critical for evaluation of appropriate mouse phenotypes, and training required for testing hypotheses related to nutrition and obesity in animal models.


Service available to All entities, including for-profit organizations.

Priority service for No distinctions.

Additional information:

Services available to members of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC). Applications to the NORC can be found at https://gns.wustl.edu/research/nutrition-obesity-research-center/membership.


  • Provision of animals
  • Biochemical analyses
  • Body composition analysis
  • Metabolic assessment of energy metabolism and balance
  • Treadmill exercise services
  • Metabolic imaging
  • Exosome biodistribution (in collaboration with CMBC Core)
  • Other "upon request" services
  • Training and consultation services


  • Synergy 4 Multi-mode Micro Optical plate reader adapted for high throughput determination of serum chemistries
  • GE Healthcare Life Sciences ÄKTA go protein purification system for separation of mouse lipoproteins and other proteins
  • Several types of centrifuges
  • ECHO MRI machine and associated instrumentation
  • PIXImus small animal DEXA for body composition
  • TSE Phenomaster (high-throughput phenotyping platform for fully automated and synchronized metabolic, behavioral, and physiological monitoring - 8 animals can be monitored at one time)
  • 8 additional wire-bottomed metabolic cages that are compatible with the Phenomaster system for determination of food intake and collection of excreta
  • Oxymax small animal indirect calorimetry system
  • Infrared thermal camera, FLIR ONE
  • Motorized treadmill from Columbus Instruments (#1055-SRM-D64), six-lane with shock grid and auto-calibration
  • Columbus Instruments motorized treadmill (Exer-3/6 treadmill), six-lane without shock grid
  • Swim tank, holds up to 8 mice and generates light current to stimulate the desire to swim
  • MR Solutions simultaneous PET/MR scanner enabling multi-parametric MR/PET and PET/MR spectroscopy to assess uptake and metabolism of labeled substrate
  • Siemens Inveon MM PET/CT scanner will allow for anatomical verification of the site of uptake of labeled substrate
  • Gamma counters for assessing radioactive substrate tissue distribution
  • Perkin-Elmer Caliper IVIS Imager for optical imaging of fluorescently labeled exosomes
  • Kodak In-Vivo Multispectral Imaging System FX with a dedicated PC and appropriate software to allow in vivo imaging of mouse models
  • Leica CM 1850 Cryostat
  • Columbus Instruments NIBP-8 Non-Invasive (tail cuff) blood pressure monitor
  • PA-C10 transmitters and receivers for telemetry determination of blood pressure (6)
  • TA10TA-F20 transmitters for core temperature determination (6)
  • Perimed Periscan laser Doppler imaging system for measuring blood flow in living animals
  • High resolution digital camera attached to a microscope and integrated with a computerized image processing system


Please contact this core directly for pricing information.

Diabetes Research and Training Center (DRTC)
Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC)