The Research Instrumentation and Cell Services core facility (RICS) provides access to a wide range of state-of-the-art equipment and specialised cell services.

Our lab offers technical / scientific support and training for all equipment currently housed within the Facility, as well as in all aspects of cell / tissue culture. We also provide access, tracking and storage of cell lines for all research and core groups, and routine cell culture quality control testing (mycoplasma/sterility testing and cell line authentication). We regularly optimise current or new techniques for our instruments and services, and horizon scan to maximise the quality of data that we can generate.

Protein gel electrophoresis

We provide access to a wide range of gel electrophoresis equipment for analysis of protein samples, including a fully automated Western blotting instrument (ProteinSimple Wes). Together with our range of digital camera and scanner imaging systems we are able to digitise images improving the accuracy of quantification.

Plate readers and spectrophotometers

We provide access to two high-specification plate readers, a BMG PHERAstar FS with plate stacker and a BMG CLARIOstar Plus. These are used extensively by most research groups in the Institute for a wide range of absorbance, fluorescence and/or luminescence assays. Our final absorbance spectrophotometer is a Direct Detect and is used for accurate quantification of small volume protein samples.

Imaging systems

The Core houses a number of imaging systems that produce digital images from a wide range of different samples. This includes an Amersham Typhoon 5 producing images of radioactive, visible/near infra-red fluorescent or chemiluminescent samples, and a Li-Cor Odyssey CLx which images fluorescence specifically in the infra-red region. The Facility also houses a flatbed scanner for imaging non-fluorescent samples (Imagescanner III), a high-resolution camera system (Amersham 680 RGB Imager) which captures both fluorescent and chemiluminescent images, and a GelCount colony counter. Finally, we are able to quantify cell behaviour in real-time using our IncuCyte live-cell imaging platforms. Dedicated analysis software packages can accurately quantify data captured by any of these imaging systems.

Figure 1. Typical images generated from our imaging systems; (a) IR-800/IR-680 multiplexed Western blot, (b) GFP or (c) tdTomato-stained cells in a dish/multi-well plate, (d) IR800-stained tissue sections, (e) Cy3/Cy5 microarray, (f) 2D-DiGE gel, and (g) AF-488/Cy3-stained primary cells.

Molecular biology applications

The Core Facility houses a DeNovix DS-11 fluorimeter and several Qubit instruments for quantification of small volume nucleic acid (and protein) samples. We also have a Blue Pippin for resolving and collecting DNA of specific sizes, and a number of E-Gel iBases/MotherBases for fast separation of DNA and RNA. Our automated nucleic acid extraction robot, Maxwell, facilitates quality preparation of nucleic acid samples required for a number of different molecular biology applications, including analysis of gene expression using our QuantStudio 3 real-time qPCR instrument or Veriti thermal cycler.

Metabolic Analysis

RICS houses a Seahorse XFe96 instrument which measures oxygen consumption rate and extracellular acidification rate of live cells in a multi-well plate, allowing key cellular functions such as mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis to be investigated in real-time. It can be used as a spring-board for more detailed metabolic experiments that can be undertaken by our PK/Bioanalytics Core Facility. 

Cell Services

To assist with maintaining good cell culture practice in the Institute, we offer weekly mycoplasma/sterility testing and cell line authentication services for both human and mouse-derived cell lines, as well as cell culture training / inductions for all our new starters. Our Core also manages a state-of-the-art cryostorage facility suitable for storing up to half a million samples in Liquid Nitrogen, and a robust sample tracking database (FreezerPRO).