Cell Screen SA banner

Cell Screen SA

High Throughput Screening Facility

Cell Screen SA (CeSSA) is a high throughput screening facility that provides several services.

 Services Provided:

  • RNAi and compound library screening
  • Custom library screening
  • Advice on screen design and development
  • Assay development
  • High content image analysis
  • Data analysis
  • Any experiment, small or large, that utilises the unique equipment at CeSSA
  • All assay protocols used at CeSSA are assessed for accuracy, variability and appropriate screening metrics (Signal/Background, Z-Prime)

All fully-charged work done at CeSSA comes with fully reported and publication quality methods, clear data presentation and, where applicable, analysis.

High throughput screening projects normally require substantial assay development and testing of protocols to ensure they meet the standards needed for quality results.

Instrument information

CeSSA has several instruments that make up the core of the facility.

Instruments at CeSSA:

  •  Operetta®: High-content imaging system for high-throughput imaging and image analysis. Brightfield, fluorescence, confocal and non-confocal microscope.
  •  Ensight: Multimode plate reader for absorbance, fluorescence, luminescence, time-resolved fluorescence and, uniquely, AlphaLISA® assay measurement.
  • Janus®Liquid handler for complex pipetting procedures. Range from nano to microliters. 8-tip Varispan™ for multi-tipped processing from tubes to vials to plates. Also has a 96-tip Modular Dispense Technology (MDT) dispense arms for liquid handling on 96 and 384 well plates.
  • Biotek: Plate aspiration and dispense. Dispenser for variable volume dispensing of liquid through columns or rows.
  • Cell:ExplorerTM(plate::handler): Robotic arm for movement of plates between all instruments allowing automated workflows for high-throughput screening applications or time-course imaging.
  • We also have ample bench space, two CO2 and temperature controlled incubators, a biohazard hood and laminar flow cabinet.

All instruments can be used integrated for complete automation but can also be used separately.

Due to the complexity of our instruments, their use requires extensive training and experience and their use is retricted to CeSSA staff.




Operetta outline
  • High-content microscope – brightfield, digital phase contrast, spinning-disc confocal/non-confocal fluorescence, time-lapse, CO2 controlled stage.
  • It can image anything from slides through to 384 well plates. Label and label-free imaging and analysis.
  • Simplified image analysis using Harmony software.
  • “Ready Made Solutions” (RMS) for automated image analysis of common cell assays. RMS can be refined to your experiment.
  • Create your own image analysis by combining “building blocks” for commonly assessed cell properties.
Potential applications
  • Any microscopy based project. Including characterisation of unlabeled cells/organisms.
  • Harmony has 29 RMS and 22 building block components, all of which have numerous parameters which can be adjusted to best fit your images.  

Some of the RMS include:

  • cell counting, including live/dead
  • nuclear shrinking
  • quantification of nuclear, cytoplasmic or membrane marker
  • cytoplasmic and nuclear spot analysis
  • cytosol-nucleus and cytosol-membrane translocation
  • receptor internalisation
  • nuclear fragmentation
  • apoptosis
  • cell proliferation
  • mitochondria texture analysis/classification
  • neurite outgrowth
  • colony formation analysis
  • micronucleus analysis
  • cell migration analysis
  • cell division

Some of the building blocks in Harmony include:

  • Find cells
  • Find micronuclei
  • Calculate morphology properties
  • Find texture region
  • Track objects
  • Calculate kinetic properties

When coupled with the plate::handler work station, automated timed experiments can be designed e.g. so that images can be taken at predefined time intervals over an extended time.


Ensight outline
  • Ensight Multimode plate reader for 96- and 384-well plates.
  • Absorbance: Xenon flash lamp, 230 – 1000nm. Either monochromator or filter-passed (currently 405nm filter only) top excitation. Photodiode intensity read underneath sample.
  • Fluorescence Intensity: Xenon flash lamp. Diffraction grating tunable 230 – 835nm excitation. 245 - 850nm emission using a monochromator with 3 broad-band filters. Side-on PMT with reference photodiode correction. Top and bottom reading – option to read at one or both locations.
  • Luminescence: 450 – 645nm emission. Adjustable detector-plate distance with a sensor for plate detection. Aperture-limited (384-well plate optimized) high sensitivity PMT. Top reading.
  • Time-resolved fluorescence: Xenon flash lamp. Top reading – optical filter excitation, 230 - 385nm. Bottom reading – monochromator excitation 230 -835nm. Sample fluorescence read from top (400-850nm) or bottom (245 – 850nm) by side-on PMT. “Digital mode” – every photon is counted after a user-defined time delay.
  • Alpha technology: 680nm laser illumination, 450 – 645nm emission. Adjustable detector-plate distance. Fixed aperture, top reading, high-sensitivity PMT.
  • Measurement modes:
    • Kinetic – repeated measuring of the same well with a user-defined delay. Repeated for every well.
    • Well scan – every well measured at a user-defined number of locations (max 100/well). E.g. for adherent cells.
    • On the fly – wells measured as plate moves past detector. Fast measuring but requires adequate signal.
  • 15 - 65°C temperature-controlled measurement chamber.


Potential applications

Any assay established in your laboratory that uses luminescence or fluorescence as a readout.

There are many commercially available technologies for easily establishing assays to measure interactions between two molecules or to measure levels of a single analyte (in both cell culture medium and serum). These assays are compatible with high-throughput screening. Please contact us for further details.

Janus workstation

Janus outline
  • Janus Fully automated pipetting.
  • Plate-to-plate, well-to-plate, tube/labware-to-plate.
  • 96 and 384-well plates, compatible with a wide variety of labware.
  • MDT arm for whole plate or single row/column pipetting. Uses disposable tips.
  • Varispan arm with 8 tips that are moveable in the x, y and z planes, for individual well pipetting and pipetting from non-plate sources i.e. tubes, vials, dishes. Can be operated with or without disposable tips.

The Janus deck can be fitted with:

  • heating and cooling blocks for temperature sensitive reagents and reactions.
  • plate shakers.


Potential applications
  • Automated nucleic acid separation
  • Tube to plate transfers
  • Sample dilutions
  • Solid phase extraction


Automated plate handling between all instruments


BioTek 406 Washer

BioTek outline
  • 96 and 384-well plate aspirating and dispensing.
  • 5µL minimum dispense volume (4.3mL prime volume)
  • 10µL/well, 96-well plate in 3 seconds.
  • 5µL/well, 384-well plate in 6 seconds.
  • Dispense accuracy ± 2% for 5 or 10µL dispense.
  • Dispense precision > 2.5% CV at 5µL, >2% CV at 10µL

Biotek washer

Liconic incubator and plate hotel

  • Dry heated
  • CO2 controlled
  • Capacity: 110 plates


  • Room temperature – entry point for additional plates and tip boxes.
  • Capacity: 110 plates





Olympus R1 Automated Cell Counter

Olympus R1 outline
  • Clarence Cell counts in 10 – 15 seconds
  • 5x104 – 1x107 cells/mL
  • Counts cells 3 - 60µm in size
  • Adjustable parameters:
    • Cell size (“gate” for a particular cell size)
    • Cell clusters
    • Roundness
  • Reports:
    • Total, live, dead cell concentration
    • Total, live, dead cell number
    • Viability    
    • Average cell size
    • Histograms of cell size distribution
  • Reports are printable directly from R1. Report and images are downloadable.



Contact us

General enquiries: Amanda Aloia PhD

Lab phone: (08) 7421 9950

Email: Amanda.Aloia@flinders.edu.au


Our location

Room 4L172, Level 4
Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC)
Bedford Park, South Australia


Our delivery address

Room 4L172, FCIC Building
Flinders Medical Centre
Flinders Drive
Bedford Park, SA 5042