Metabolic, Physiological and Behavioral Phenotyping Core (MMPC-Live)

Performs a variety of in vivo physiological assessments and behavioral measurements.


Nathan Qi, MD/PhD
(734) 764-7043


North Campus Research Complex, Room 20-30C
2800 Plymouth Rd, Ann Arbor MI, 48105

Medical School

Who We Serve

University of Michigan Researchers
External Users

Core Summary

Part of the National Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Consortium (MMPC-Live), the Metabolic, Physiological and Behavioral Phenotyping Core (also referred to as the Animal Phenotyping Core or APC) is directed by Dr. Nathan Qi and Dr. Paula Goforth. We perform a variety of in vivo physiological assessments including:

  1.  Glucose homeostasis (glucose tolerance, insulin tolerance, hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic, hypo- or hyperglycemic clamps)
  2.  Lipid metabolism (fat tolerance test, 3H-triolein lipid fluxes, 3H-glycerol lipolysis)
  3.  Whole-body energy expenditure (indirect calorimetry by CLAMS, or Promethion (SABLE) systems in room temperature or thermoneutral environment, with/out or dietary challenges)
  4.  Ultradian hormone secretion (Culex platform for automated injection and serial blood sampling from conscious, free moving, and undisturbed mice) 
  5.  Behavioral tests(learning/memory, locomotor activity, anxiety, depression, meal pattern analysis, operant conditioning)

In collaboration with the Germ-Free Mouse Facility (part of MMPC-Live), the APC also provides phenotyping services using germ-free or gnotobiotic mice.

Service Categories: Animal Research


  • Animal Surgery

  • Behavioral Tests

  • Data analysis

  • Study design

Additional Services

  1. Free study design and consultation
  2. Animal surgery
  3. In vivo steady-state isotopic labeling of metabolites using chronic intravenous infusion
  4. Automated injection and blood sampling in conscious, free-moving, and undisturbed mice or rats
  5. Body or tissue composition and bomb calorimetry (fecal, dietary, or tissue samples)
  6. Treadmill running or in-cage activity
  7. Use of optogenetic and photometry in phenotyping testing
  8. Laboratory assistance and training
  9. Animal housing ventilated/non-ventilated
  10. Onsite breeding care

See website for full list of services.


  • 4-unit open-field locomotor monitoring system with infrared beams
  • EchoMRI 4in 1-500
  • Fiber photometry system
  • Multi-lane regular running treadmills
  • Plexon optogenetic system
  • Surgical stereo dissecting microscopes

Additional Equipment

  • Three surgical stereo dissecting microscopes with a digital image recording system linked to a large TV monitor. 
  • Cartesian Instruments (Kopff) mouse stereotaxic surgery frame with 1-µm resolution digital micrometers used for the precise surgical implantation of intracranial cannulae or microinjection of intracranial or intraventricular compounds in mice.
  • Forty precision infusion pumps (Pump 11 Elite, Harvard Apparatus) – used for composing 8 workstations for insulin/glucose clamps or continuous intravenous infusion in unrestrained, freely -moving mice.
  • A dedicated liquid scintillation counter (Tri-Carb 4910TR, PerkinElmer).
  • An NMR-based rodent body composition analyzers, EchoMRI 4in1-500 – enable noninvasive quantification of fat mass, lean mass, and body water in unanesthetized mice and fresh tissues.
  • Three independently controlled 16-cage indirect calorimetry systems for mice: two CLAMS’ (Columbus Instruments) and one Sable Promethion System equipped with 13C/18O, methane, VOC/H2 multiple sensors for mice – used to simultaneously measure oxygen consumption, respiratory exchange ratio, locomotor activity, sleeping and quiet time and feeding in mice. The Promethion system and one CLAMS are contained within separate temperature-regulated environmental chambers to allow studies of energy expenditure at ambient temperatures ranging from 5 to 35 °C.
  • Eight isolator chambers for studying energy expenditure in germ-free or gnotobiotic mice using the Promethion system.
  • Four mouse exercise treadmills equipped with sealed chambers for continuously measuring VO2 and VCO2 (every 1-5 seconds) during exercise (Sable Systems; Columbus Instruments) – used together with the calorimetry systems to stimulate muscular activity in mice and measure maximal respiratory capacity during forced exercise.
  • Two multi-lane regular running treadmills (Maze Engineers; Columbus Instruments) – used for exercise training and regular running capacity tests in mice.
  • A bomb calorimetry (6200 with 1108P oxygen bomb, Parr Instrument) for measuring energy content in biological samples such as feces, diet or tissues. The digestible energy content is estimated as the difference in energy content between the food consumed and feces produced.
  • A 4-station Culex system with Raturn swivelless caging, perfusion pumps, and fraction collectors for remote continuous blood, CSF, or other biological fluid sampling and intravenous infusion (BASi, Inc.) – used to collect serial biological samples from and infuse pharmacological compounds remotely to unanesthetized, uninterrupted, freely moving mice with no presence of technical staff.  
  • Four Bio Medic Data Systems wireless reader systems (DAS7007S) and 200 implantable programmable temperature transponders (IPTT 300)- used to remotely measure tissue, organ, or core body temperature in mice during indirect calorimetry analysis performed under low or high ambient environmental temperatures. 
  • Two large light- and temperature-controlled housing cabinets, each housing up to 30 mouse cages (Powers Scientific), for short- or long-term housing at 5-35°C – used for studying the metabolic effect of ambient temperature in mice. 
  • Twenty vertically mounted in-cage running wheels with analytical recording system (4.5” diameter, 2.0” width, Starr Life Sci) and 40 low-profile, radio frequency monitored mouse running discs (Med Associates) – used to remotely measure diurnal activity patterns and provide voluntary exercise.
  • Eight mouse metabolic cages (Tecniplast) – used for separating and collecting urinal and fecal samples.  
  • An 8-unit operant behavior conditioned learning and monitoring system for mice (Med-Associates) – used for studies of reinforced reward behavior and the analysis of meal microstructure.
  • A 4-unit open-field locomotor monitoring system with infrared beams for mice (Med Associates) and 4 open-field testing boxes (Maze Engineer) used for video monitoring system – used to quantify spontaneous and drug-induced locomotor activity and anxiety behaviors.
  • Four CCD cameras with infrared light source, and digital video recorder function – used to capture behavioral records of mice that can be analyzed offline at later times by investigators blinded to the experimental group.
  • A video analytical system (Ethovision XT, Noldus) (room 026-G17E-B) for recording, tracking, and analyzing all videos in a variety of mouse behaviors in open fields or mazes.
  • Various LED floor lamps for generating a soft, shadow-free ceiling-bouncing light (20-1000lux), a light meter, two sound meters and an accelerometer for measuring light, noise intensity and vibration – used for creating and standardizing testing conditions in mouse behavioral studies. 
  • A 4-station shuttle box system for active avoidance/fear conditioning (Columbus Instruments) – used to study active avoidance behavior and fear conditioning using a mild scrambled electric shock as the unconditioned aversive stimulus.
  • A 3-station passive avoidance system (Columbus Instruments) (room 026-G17E-B)- used to study passive avoidance behavior using a mild scrambled electric shock as the unconditioned aversive stimulus.
  • A Plexon optogenetic system equipped with a laptop-controlled power source, 2 x 473 nm laser light sources (OptoEngine), with light delivery via patch cords (Thorlabs) that connect to surgically implanted fibers and are attached to a rotary joint (Doric Lenses) to permit unrestrained movement- used for optogenetic control of neuronal activity in vivo in transgenic mouse models and/or after delivery of viral vectors expressing light-sensitive ion channels.
  • A fiber photometry system based on the RZ25P digital signal processor platform with Synapse software (Tucker Davis Technologies), equipped with fiber-coupled 470 and 405 nm LEDs and a custom-built system of excitation/emission filters (Thorlabs).
  • Two phenotype boxes (Noldus Corp) equipped with specialized lixits and food wells to monitor drinking and feeding behavior as well as nose poke apparatus. Animal activity is tracked using Ethovision XT software (Noldus).  
  • A variable speed RotoRod (Maze Engineers) for measuring locomotor agility – measures the rotational speed and latency at which mice can no longer stay on the rod.
  • Several other assorted pieces of behavioral testing equipment including two large circular, dark-colored water tanks (120 cm and 200cm in diameter for mouse and rat, respectively) equipped with a water pump for conducting Morris water maze and other mazes (e.g., elevated plus maze or Y-maze) – used to test spatial learning and memory or anxiety related behaviors.