Putting the Robot into the RA

Robots in labs leave researchers time for analysis.

“Robocore recently processed over 80 000 samples through an automated ELISA in less than two weeks – this may typically have taken an RA six months.

First published: 20/02/2014

Updated at: 24/02/2014 at 9:24 am

“The more you do – the more you can do” is an adage central to the RoboCore Facility at Monash University.

RoboCore is a new facility that offers the use of automated liquid handlers to enable researchers to achieve faster research results.

Dr Caroline Laverty, who runs the facility, has worked with robotics and laboratory automation for a wide range of drug discovery and cell biology applications in the pharmaceutical industry and in academia.

Her facility has 10 Tecan Automated liquid handling systems connected to a wide variety of instruments to provide huge capacity and versatility in automated processes.

“While most people have heard about robots in the lab, they don’t know what robots can do for their own research. Or maybe they don’t have the budget to invest in automation to find out how it can work for them,” said Dr Laverty.

“RoboCore works with the customer to see if we can automate their assay or process. We determine how we can get the best out of our robots to produce high quality data in high volume and faster than they could manage manually.

“I’d like to think that we can automate any experiment currently being run manually  – from a simple reagent addition experiment, to a more advanced ELISA assay,  all the way through to a highly complex cell culture application – we can help .

“We have automated a whole variety of ELISA [Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays] on our systems; off-the-shelf kits and custom assays all have different reagents, time points and plate formats. These can be very effectively transferred onto an automated liquid handler to generate data faster than a research assistant could by hand.

“Recently we processed over 80 000 samples through an automated ELISA in less than two weeks – this may typically have taken an RA six months. Time saving is one benefit from automation, but another is increased assay reproducibility.  Meanwhile an RA can be doing other research that a robot can’t do.

“One of the major benefits of using automated liquid handlers is to avoid the potential for human error when performing high volume, tedious manual pipetting.

“We’ve just completed a project to replicate 38 000 DNA samples in triplicate. It took two days to write the robotic program and only two days to run it with no contamination or transfer errors. These libraries are valuable and automation can give peace of mind that the integrity of a high value asset has been preserved,” Caroline said.

Robocore is open to academia and industry. The benefits of automated liquid handling are:

  • Minimised routine manual work and potential for RSI
  • Increased assay reproducibility and speed
  • Minimised variability and human error in pipetting
  • Time and cost savings
  • Reduced potential for contamination in tissue culture
  • 24/7 operation where experiments can be run out of hours

Robocore’s clients are biotech companies including some overseas companies, universities and Australian institutes. .

“Researchers are finding that automation is the only way to get the volume of data they need in a competitive time scale.

“Many institutes are outsourcing their method development and high throughput assays to our automated systems because we have the experience and capacity to deliver in a more cost effective way than they could achieve in a manual fashion” Dr Laverty said.

For more information about how RoboCore can help with your assays and liquid handling or for advice on applying automation to your laboratory processes, contact Caroline.Laverty@monash.edu

You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.