UCL Faculty of Life Sciences


High-content biology

The High-content Biology Lab (HCBL) provides expertise and cutting-edge technology to facilitate a variety of research projects aimed at understanding fundamental processes in cell biology.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYdx0knZRsg


We offer:

  • Running of high throughput screens with one of our specialists 
  • Support for low to medium throughput projects with assay development and equipment 
  • Facilitation of imaging assays with multiple conditions or readouts including fast response assays 

We support projects and screens using a diverse range of cell models such as yeast, primary mammalian cells, iPS cells, cell lines, single cell layers as well as organoids, spheroids and tissue sections. 

Please see further details of our equipment and capabilities here.


We provide training for the instruments, which might benefit your assays and projects.

Assay development

We are committed to helping you with the readout for your experiment or developing an automated assay with you.


We provide RNAi, CRISPR and compound screens.


Following imaging, we offer analysis workstations along with the Columbus image analysis server, to facilitate effortless image analysis from any location. We also work together with the LMCB bioinformatics team for assay analysis and in silico screening.


Our high content microscopes can speed up your imaging assay considerably. A pipettor module to image your fast response assays is also available. We also offer to image your experiment for you.

Contact us

Our services are available for UCL staff as well as individuals from other academic or industry backgrounds. Please get in touch with Christin Luft to discuss your project. We will suggest the most suitable assay or instrument and design an experimental plan with you.


  • High-throughput screening
  • High-content screening
  • siRNA screening
  • Drug discovery
  • CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing



Our lab supports researchers in conducting experiments ranging from small to large in scale.

We offer a diverse selection of laboratory tools for various readouts such as 2D and 3D cell culture, live cell assays, fluorescent and luminescence intensities, cellular metabolic processes, etc. Liquid handlers are also available for siRNA and small molecule management.


The HCBL houses the Opera Phenix and Opera Phenix Plus, two confocal high-content microscopes. These user-friendly microscopes allow for completely automated imaging of cells or tissue, permitting users to acquire thousands of images in a very short amount of time. This makes it possible to test several conditions at the same time and/or analyse multiple phenotypes concurrently. The Opera Phenix is equipped with a robotic arm, which can automatically feed the Phenix with assay plates, allowing for further speed when acquiring images. The latest Opera model, the Opera Phenix Plus comes with an injector module and provides a high frame rate, which makes it ideal to study fast-response events in the cell like calcium flux or membrane potential changes. 

Perkin Elmer Opera Phenix
The Opera Phenix is a confocal spinning disc microscope that has the capability to automatically acquire images in multiwell plates and slides. The automated acquisition advances the imaging process and allows the researcher to study their project in an impartial way. Our users image a wide variety of samples on the Phenix, e.g. single layer cell lines, multilayer neuronal cultures, tissue sections and organoids. The Phenix is equipped with CO2 and temperature control features, enabling the capture of live cell images and time courses. A plate handler and incubator allow the automated imaging of multiple plates.
Objectives: 5x air, 10x air, 20x air, 40x air, 20x water, 40x water, 63x water
Lasers: 375, 425, 488, 561 and 640nm
Emission Filters: 435-515nm, 435-550nm, 435-480nm, 500-550nm, 570-630nm, 650-760nm
Environmental chamber (CO2/Temperature) for live cell imaging
Plate handler and incubator
Harmony 4.9 Software
PresiScan software
PhenoLOGIC machine learning algorithm
Columbus server for image analysis
Perkin Elmer Opera Phenix Plus
The Phenix Plus shares all the features of the Opera Phenix but has a higher imaging frame rate and is equipped with an injector module for the addition of reagents and compounds while capturing images. As a result, it is well-suited for observing rapid-response assays.
Objectives: 5x air, 10x air, 20x air, 40x air, 20x water, 40x water, 63x water
Lasers: 405, 488, 561 and 640nm
Emission Filters: 435-480nm, 435-515nm, 435-550nm, 435-480nm, 465-480nm, 465-530nm, 500-530nm, 500-550nm, 515-550nm, 570-630nm, 571-596nm, 605-630nm, 650-680nm, 650-680nm, 650-760nm, 690-720nm
Injector module
Environmental chamber (CO2/Temperature/Humidity) for live cell imaging
Fast 100 fps frame rate
Harmony 5.1 software
PresiScan software
PhenoLOGIC machine learning algorithm
Columbus server for image analysis
Columbus analysis software
Columbus is an image analysis software ideal for the display and analysis of large image sets. It comes with preprogrammed building blocks for a user-friendly analysis experience. We host it on an LMCB server, and it is accessible via web interface from across UCL.

Plate readers

Our range of monochromator and filter based plate readers include the BMG ClarioStar, the Hidex, the PerkinElmer Envision II and the Cytation 3. The readers are equipped with injector modules and temperature control. Experiments under O2/CO2 atmospheric control are also possible.

BMG ClarioStar
The ClarioStar is an environmental controlled plate reader for the measurement of fluorescence, luminescence and absorbance. It is equipped with linear variable filter monochromators which offer the sensitivity of a filter while also allowing for continuous selection of wavelengths. The ClarioStar also comes with two onboard injectors.
Linear Variable Filter Monochromator
Additional emission filters: 615/18nm, 645/20nm
2 injector modules
Top and bottom z-height adjustment
Well scan option
Gas control (O2/CO2) 
Temperature control up to 45C
MARS Data analysis software
Spectral Scan for absorbance and fluorescence
Absorbance (220nm – 1000nm)
Fluorescence Intensity (Ex 240nm-840nm, Em 280nm-900nm), FRET
Luminescence (320-740nm)
Time resolved fluorescence (filter based)

Hidex Sense
The Hidex is a filter based multimode microplate reader with an intuitive software for data analysis and experiment set up. It is equipped with stackers for the use in screening set ups.
Temperature control up to 65C
Microplate shaker
Filters: 320/40nm, 330/80nm, 340/25nm, 355/40nm, 390/20nm, 405/50nm, 444/12nm 460/20, 485/10nm, 490/20nm, 520/14nm, 535/20nm, 544/20nm, 560/40nm, 575/20nm, 590/20nm, 610/20nm, 616/8.5nm, 620/10nm, 630/40nm, 665/7.5nm, 675/50nm, 680/40nm, 680/20nm, 700/40nm
Fluorescence Intensity, FRET
Fluorescence polarisation
Time resolved fluorescence
Liquid scintillation counting
Well scan

Agilent Seahorse XFE96
The Seahorse measures extracellular O2 and pH levels in cells plated in a 96 well plate format. During the measurement process several modulators of respiration and metabolism are injected into the culture solution. In this way researchers can investigate metabolic processes including mitochondrial respiration, glycolytic function and ATP production.

ProteinSimple WES
The WES will give you sensitive western blots results in under 3h. The WES is a fully automated Western blot system that enables you to analyse protein expression levels in a quick and efficient manner. Samples are loaded into pre-filled cartridges, which are then inserted into the WES. WES will then separate the proteins via capillary electrophoresis and immobilise the proteins to the capillary. Chemiluminescence is used for detection. 

Liquid handling

Labcyte Echo 550
The Labcyte Echo is an acoustic liquid dispenser, which transfers reagents from a source plate or library plate into assay plates via sound waves. This technology allows the transfer of very small volumes (as small as 2.5nl). This method of dispensing is faster and more accurate than traditional liquid handling. We use it in screens to transfer compounds, siRNA/crRNA and other small volume reagents. For larger screens, source and assay plates can be stored in plate stackers and fed into the Echo automatically via the cell access system.

Biomek liquid handling platform
For complex experiments and screens, we use our Biomek liquid handling platform which is equipped with two NXp liquid handlers, one using a 96/384 channel head and one using an 8-channel head. Both use disposable tips for aspiration, dispensing and dilution. The platform also contains tilting and shaker units, a vacuum unit, cooling and heating blocks, stackers, an incubator and a tubing based plate washer and dispenser. This set up allows for the standardized and automated conduction of longer experimental, cell culturing and immunostaining protocols.
Biomek NXp with 96 and 384 multichannel head
Biomek NXp with Span-8 channel head
Tilting Module, shaker, tip washing module
Vacuum separation
Pelletier cooling and heat block.
Cytomat stackers
Cytomat incubator
Biotek EL406 washer/dispenser

Tecan Freedom Evo 200
The Tecan Freedom Evo is a tip-based liquid handler we use for the automation of many of our screens. The system is adaptable and easy to set up.
LiHa 8-channel module
MCA96 channel head
Vacuum separation

Other liquid handlers
We have several other tip-based and tubing-based liquid handlers which support smaller and larger scale experiments and screens. They include the Agilent Bravo, the Formulatrix Tempest and other portable tubing based dispensers.