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Use of Fully Automated Cell Culture and Imaging Systems to Increase the Capacity and Consistency of Downstream Virology Assays

Thursday, October 11, 2012 — Poster Session IV

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Natcher Conference Center, Building 45




  • J.M. Michelotti
  • D.L. Freeburger
  • K.H. Lamberton
  • N.M. Deiuliis
  • R.D. Adams
  • S.A. McDowell


The Cell Culture Laboratory at the NIAID Integrated Research facility (IRF) is a newly designed core facility that is centralizing the production of tissue culture cells for translational virology research. The Cell Culture Lab supplies mammalian cells in flasks and plates to laboratories operating under standard biosafety level-2 (BSL-2) and high containment (BSL-3 and -4) conditions. We are incorporating a tissue culture robot and automated imaging equipment into our workflow. The CompacT SelecTâ„¢ robot counts and checks cell viability before dispensing the cells into multi-well plates ready for downstream assays (e.g., plaque assays). Robotic plating is undergoing optimization by varying the viable cell density, dispense volume and pattern, and incubation time. With such optimization, cell plating is completed in one quarter of the time required for manual plating. Comparative data from cowpox virus (CPXV) plaque assays show that the titers are similar between cells plated by the robot and those plated manually. In addition, an IncucyteFLR imager of live cells with fluorescent reporters records cell-growth properties and cell-plating quality of selected plates to ensure consistency. Automation of tissue culture provides both high quality cells and cost savings because of the centralization of tissue culture reagents and staff.

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