High Content Analysis

In recent years, research in the life sciences has been energised through major advances in microscopy instrumentation, novel fluorescent probes, and a more comprehensive understanding of various genomes. Together with the availability of vast libraries of genomic and chemical tools, the systematic probing of gene and cell function has now become a possibility. This experimental strategy, when based on fluorescence imaging, is termed high content screening (HCS) and analysis (HCA). Its power lies in the fact that cellular perturbations can be observed and captured by automated microscopes, and single cells analysed and quantified at subcellular resolution. The result is that vast data sets can be easily produced, and new molecular links rapidly established.


HCS and HCA use a combination of instrumentation and infrastructure depending on the project type and size.
Key instrumentation:
• Automated cell plating and washing - ThermoFisher Multidrop and BioTek ELx405cw
• Automated liquid handling - Hamilton STAR robot
• Automated microscopy - Olympus Scan^R high content screening microscope
• Automated image analysis - Perkin Elmer Columbus platform

Cell plating and washing

• rapid and reliable automated plating of cells into 96-well and 384-well format plates
• automated cell plating provides highly reproducible cell numbers
• automated washing of cells within an assay
• cell washer is integrated with the liquid handling platform

Liquid handling

• high capacity, low volume liquid handling using 96-channel head
• precision liquid handling using 1-8 tip individual channels
• on-deck cooling, heating and shaking of plates
• bar-coding for experiment / plate tracking
• full control of assay design, fully programmable

Microscopy / imaging

• fully automated bright-field and fluorescence imaging of any plate format
• compatible with plastic and glass substrates
• hardware and software autofocus capability
• user-defined imaging of any combination of wells and sub-positions within wells

Image analysis

• high volume image data storage and management
• the most advanced HCA software solution existing
• wide range of image analysis tools, including intensity, morphometric and texture-based measurements
• tools for data visualisation and data mining


The HCS / HCA platform is located in the UCD Cell Screening Laboratory in Science Centre West [building 63 (grid D6) UCD campus map]. This space houses the entire infrastructure associated with HCS / HCA projects, including cell culture facilities. Training is required for the use of either individual pieces of equipment or the entire pipeline. We offer in depth training sessions for the Olympus Scan^R HCS microscope and the Perkin Elmer ‘Columbus’ image analysis platform.


For general enquiries, including collaborative research studies, contact: Prof. Jeremy Simpson (jeremy.simpson@ucd.ie). Further information can be found at: http://www.ucd.ie/hcs

Current research portfolio

Current projects include: analysis of Golgi apparatus morphology, nanoparticle trafficking, infection of macrophages. 

Check out our next associated technology: Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)