UCL Division of Biosciences


Darwin Research Facility (DRF)

The Darwin Research Facility was established in 2004 by funding from the Wellcome Trust, HEFCE and UCL which transformed the derelict sub-basement of the Darwin building into a suite of state-of-the-art research laboratories.

At present, the infrastructure of the facility provides a diverse range of equipment, expertise and training in the field of biochemistry, molecular, structural and cellular biology. The facility consists of several research laboratories and support areas.


Adolfo Quinones Lombrana
Darwin Research Facility Manager

Email:  a.quinones@ucl.ac.uk

Telephone:  020 7679 2728  (internal: 32728)

Sub-basement Floor
Darwin Building
University College London
Gower Street

List of Available Equipment

Centrifugation Area
(Room SB01)
 Sample Preparation Area
(Room SB02)
  Biophysical and Bioanalytical Instrumentation
(Room SB05)
  Protein Purification Area (SB05/SB03)  Microbiology Research Area
(Room SB06)
  Microscope Suite (Room SB22)  Cell and Tissue Culture Facility (Room SB25)  Support Areas 

1. Centrifugation Area (Room SB01)

The DRF has a wide range of centrifuges and ultracentrifuges that allow to separate and purify mixtures of biological particles in liquid medium.

High performance centrifuges (Speed range: 100 to 26,000 rpm)

  • Beckman Coulter Avanti® J-20
  • Beckman Coulter Avanti® J-26 XP
  • Beckman Coulter Avanti® J-26S XP

Preparative ultracentrifuges (Speed range: 1,000 to 100,000 rpm)

  • Beckman Coulter L8-80M
  • Beckman Coulter Optima™ L-100 XP
  • Beckman Coulter Optima™ XPN 100

Tabletop ultracentrifuges (Speed range: 5,000 to 130,000 rpm)

  • Beckman Coulter Optima™ MAX
  • Beckman Coulter Optima™ TL-100

2. Sample Preparation Area (Room SB02)

Different sample preparation areas are available at the DRF. The offered equipment allows processing a wide variety of biological samples.

Other cell/tissue disruption systems

  • Thermo IEC French Press (Sample volume: 35 mL)
  • QIAGEN TissueLyser II (Sample volume range: 1 to 96 mL)
  • EmulsiFlex-C5 homogenizer (Capacity: 1-5L/hr)

Sectioning of tissue samples

  • Leica RM2235 Rotary Microtome
  • Leica CM1850 Cryostat

3. Biophysical and Bioanalytical Instrumentation (Room SB05)

The different biophysical and bioanalytical automated equipment located in the DRF provide specialized support in the areas of molecular biology or drug discovery.

Chromatography (Fluorescence and PDA detector)

  • Shimadzu Nexera X2 HPLC

Plate Readers (Fluorescence intensity and polarization, TR-FRET, luminescence, and full spectrum absorbance)

  • BMG CLARIOstar microplate reader
  • BMG PHERAstar microplate reader
  • BMG FLUOstar microplate reader

Imaging systems (IR and HRP Western blotting, nucleic acid gel imaging, tissue section imaging, in-cell western blotting)

  • LI-COR Odyssey® CLx Imaging System (Channel Sources: 700, and 800 nm)
  • LI-COR Odyssey® Fc Imaging System (Channel Sources 600, 700, and 800 nm)
  • Syngene G:BOX F3 gel doc system (UV and visible)
  • Fujifilm LAS-3000 (UV, visible, and chemiluminescence)

Spectrophotometers (fluorescence and absorbance)

  • NanoDrop 2000 Spectrophotometer (190 – 840 nm)
  • DS-11 Fx Spectrophotometer / Fluorometer

High-throughput bioanalytical instrumentation

  • LightCycler® 480 (Quantitative RT-PCR system)

3.1 Protein Purification Area (SB05/SB03)

The protein purification area located in one of the DRF’s cold rooms allows the fast and efficient purification of protein to sufficiently high yield and purity.

Protein Purification Systems

  • Cytiva ÄKTA pure 25 M1
  • GE ÄKTA purifier 100

4. Microbiology Research Area (Room SB06)

Our microbiology area provides support and state-of-the-art equipment for the culturing of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, yeasts, etc.

Large Incubator Shakers (Up to 6 L flasks)

  • HT-INFORS Multitron (3 units, temperature range 4 - 65 °C)
  • HT-INFORS Minitron (temperature range 5°C above ambient - 60 °C)
  • New Brunswick Innova 4430 (2 units, temperature range 4 - 80 °C)
  • New Brunswick Innova 4300 (temperature range 5°C above ambient - 60 °C)

Bench Incubator Shakers (Up to 2 L flasks)

  • Labnet I-5311-DS shaking incubator (temperature range 5°C above ambient - 70 °C)
  • New Brunswick Innova 4000 (temperature range 5°C above ambient - 60 °C)

Ovens and Incubators (Temperatures up to 90 °C)

  • Townson & Mercer electric oven

Sonicators (Sample volume range: 1 to 250 mL)

  • MSE Soniprep 150 Ultrasonic Disintegrator (2 units)
  • QSonica Q500 Sonicator
  • QSonica Q700 Sonicator

Lyophilisers and Concentrators

  • Edwards Modulyo EF4 Freeze dryer (2 units)
  • Savant SC100 Speedvac

5. Microscope Suite (Room SB22)

The Darwin Research Facility microscope suite is equipped with a large variety of systems to assist users in their research.

Brightfield/Fluorescence Microscopes

  • Zeiss Axioplan 2
  • Zeiss Axioskop 2 Plus
  • Zeiss Observer 2
  • Zeiss Axiovert 200M

6. Cell and Tissue Culture Facility (Room SB25)

The Cell and Tissue Culture Facility is comprised of three dedicated laboratories for containment level 2 tissue culture and provides access to all the essential equipment for the preparation and maintenance of mammalian and insect cell lines.

Biosafety Cabinets

  • Herasafe™ KS (NSF) Class II, Type A2 Biological Safety Cabinets (7 units)

CO2 Incubators

  • HERAcell® 150 CO2 incubator (9 units)
  • Binder CB 150 CO2 incubator
  • New Brunswick™ Innova® 42 Incubator Shaker
  • Jeio Tech ISS-4075R Incubator Shaker

Imaging Systems

  • Cytena Cellcyte™ live-imaging system (GFP, RFP, DAPI)
  • EVOS M5000 fluorescence microscope (GFP, RFP, DAPI)

7. Support Areas

Our support areas are designed to provide storage and research alternatives to the different users of the facility. Our support areas include:

  • Freezer Room (-80 °C freezers)
  • Cold Room (2 areas, 4 °C)
  • Dark Room (2 areas equipped with an OPTIMAX® X-ray film processor and different UV transilluminators)
Main Users

Researchers from SMB and GEE departments.  Equipment is available to other UCL staff as well.  Please contact the DRF Manager.

Costs/ Charges

Subscription rates:  £4,970 per post doc or student/ per year/ per grant application
Itinerant use:  £20 per am or pm session