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Coordinated Services for Metabolism Research

Coordinated Services for Metabolism Research (CSMR) features a 600-square-foot laboratory with ventilated housing for mice, CLAMS and Oxymax open-flow indirect calorimeters, and associated or additional services to measure food and fluid intake, physical activity, glucose homeostasis and behavioral outcomes. CSMR also offers indirect calorimetry during treadmill exercise, with alternative ambient temperatures and photoperiods. The service core is managed by Susan Aja, Ph.D., who provides project management, conducts studies, provides expertise for in vivo approaches to metabolism and obesity research, and refers researchers to CSMR and other facilities and personnel with appropriate equipment and expertise to support metabolic research. CSMR has been supporting projects in energy balance and metabolism since 2008.


Please see our CSMR Services Menu for specific offerings and prices. Contact Susan Aja for more information and to initiate a project. 

  • CSMR features a 24-cage Comprehensive Lab Animal Monitoring System (CLAMS, Columbus Instruments) indirect calorimeter for mice, with additional features. The CLAMS indirect calorimeter measures rates of oxygen consumption (VO2) and carbon dioxide production (VCO2), and reports respiratory exchange ratio (RER) and rate of energy expenditure (“heat”). Our system also measures intake of powdered food, water intake and physical activity (infrared beam array; running wheel rotations are optional). The system has automated food access control as well. The software produces files for the above measurements.

  • CSMR has an Oxymax Equal Flow indirect calorimeter (Columbus Instruments) for mice that can be paired with a one-lane enclosed metabolic treadmill for indirect calorimetry during exercise, on a self-serve basis to trained users. The Oxymax can also be paired with a climate-controlled cabinet for indirect calorimetry studies under alternative ambient temperatures and photoperiods. The Oxymax can be used on its own for mice, and to a limited extent for rats. Please contact Susan Aja for more information.

  • In addition to indirect calorimetry, CSMR can upon request conduct other common tests and activities including but not limited to: 

    • Glucose tolerance tests
    • Insulin tolerance tests 
    • Diet or fluid selection
    • Conditioned taste aversion
    • Drug administrations
    • Body weight and food intake measurements
    • Blood and tissue collections

    These tests are billed based on hourly rates and costs are estimated in advance.

  • CSMR offers high-quality ventilated housing for mice on-site (Innovive) for a one-time initial cage set-up fee followed by modest per diem. Trained researchers are welcome to conduct work with their own mice at the facility in coordination with CSMR.


Project Management

Researchers interested in CSMR services should contact the core early in the process. Indirect calorimetry, other tests, and housing rodents in the CSMR facility all require Johns Hopkins University Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) approval, and early engagement ensures optimal scheduling. 

Projects at CSMR always begin with a consultation meeting to discuss: 

  • Study background, preliminary data and other observations
  • CSMR services that meet study objectives
  • Experimental design
  • Coordinating with other cores and laboratories as needed
  • Cohorts, ages, sexes, genotypes, known phenotypes, diets and treatments
  • Guidelines, literature, best practices and issues in the field
  • Timelines, deadlines and other objectives
  • Budget, cost estimates and billing procedures

Next, to initiate the project, researchers must obtain ACUC approval of an amendment to use the core and request animal transfer (both templates provided by core). An active budget number must be provided (or identify alternative forms of payment if at a different institution). 

During the project, CSMR provides aid with animal transfers, arranging body composition data (Phenotyping Core), conducting tests, data processing and analysis. 

Finally, researchers will attend a close-out meeting during which the data will be reviewed, discussed and used to inform potential future actions. Billing is performed on a rolling monthly basis as projects are conducted successfully and data provided. Researchers are welcome to contact CSMR anytime for additional follow-up discussions and assistance with manuscripts or grant applications.


  • Using the CSMR facility for housing or any tests requires amendment of the principal investigator’s existing ACUC-approved protocol. For new users, this is accomplished through the regular monthly ACUC process, and with CSMR approval and provision of template for the amendment. This can take time, so potential users should contact CSMR early to meet and discuss the studies.

  • Some services can be in high demand and at times may be occupied months in advance, and housing space is limited. Contact CSMR as soon as you think you may want to work with the core, as there may be additional lead time necessary to initiate your project (such as ACUC approval, animal transfer requests, general scheduling, etc).

  • It takes a similar amount of effort to test a small cohort as it takes to test a larger one, and equipment maintenance costs do not change based on cohort size. Researchers are also encouraged to maximize the number of animals, and animals per group, to sufficiently power their studies. For these reasons, CLAMS and Oxymax studies have been priced by the cohort. For CLAMS, up to 24 mice can be monitored at a time as a cohort; for Oxymax by itself, up to 16 mice; for Oxymax in the climate chamber, up to nine mice at a time. Data can be pooled over multiple cohorts, if necessary.

  • CSMR offers flexible arrangements on these and other tests and procedures. Trained researchers are welcome to work with their own mice in our facility on tests that are approved on their animal protocol. If this is not the most suitable arrangement, CSMR can perform a variety of typical procedures and tests as fee-for-service by using hourly rates to estimate costs; researchers are welcome to join in these tests and get training so they can do it independently in the future if they wish.

  • CSMR has successfully served projects for other institutions and for-profit companies. Please inquire early, as the process is a bit more involved than for Johns Hopkins users.

  • At minimum, CSMR requests that manuscripts using CLAMS, Oxymax or other tests performed by the core acknowledge this, either in the methods section or under acknowledgements. CSMR is happy to provide appropriate methods text. Co-authorship is not required, but is welcome and appropriate in cases of significant intellectual input in data analysis, interpretation or writing. Here are examples of projects that have been supported by CSMR data.

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