Liggins Institute

Laboratory science

As a research intensive organisation, the Liggins Institute has the capability and the facilities to support a wide range of biomedical and clinical research.

Liggins lab

In our well-equipped research laboratory, we analyse the samples generated by clinical trials and research projects. We also offer industry-proven mechanised assays (using Roche analysers) and cutting-edge specialised analyses utilising mass spectrometry or genomics platforms.

Because we only analyse research-generated samples, we can measure ALL samples from a project in an uninterrupted batch, which makes processing variations less likely. The breadth of analyses available means that we can usually perform all required assays on site.

Our skilled and experienced technicians can undertake complex assays such as magnetic bead multiplex plate assays, and develop assays for new compounds or to screen for potential biomarkers between samples from different populations.

If you would like to use any of the laboratory equipment, or request a quote for sample analysis, please contact the Laboratory Manager, Eric Thorstensen on

Research lab equipment

COBAS / Roche Analysers

COBAS / Roche Analysers

The Institute owns a c311 Clinical Chemistry Analyser and an e411 Immunology Analyser. These analysers run the same tests as hospital and diagnostic medical labs, the list of which is extremely extensive (available on request). Some of these tests are run routinely so we have kits in stock (see list below); others can be purchased for specific projects as required.

c311 Clinical Chemistry Analyser

Electrolytes : Sodium, Potassium, Chloride



Total Protein








Creatinine kinase

HDL Cholesterol



LDL Cholesterol











Uric Acid




e411 Immunology Analyser













Magpix Multiplex Reader

Magpix Multiplex Reader

The Magpix Multiplex reader is for measuring specific proteins via a magnetic antibody technique. The key benefit of this technique is the ability to measure large numbers of related compounds from a small volume of sample in one microplate eg. 10-20 cytokines, adipokines, all IGF-1 binding proteins etc. There is a wide range of kits available across a variety of species and from several suppliers, and we can advise on which to use. We have an experienced technician who specialises in these multiplex assays, which removes the cost associated with ‘novice’ attempts. We are also able to do ELISA microplate assays. 

Liquid Chromatography Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometers (LCMSMS)

Our triple quad LCMSMS capability revolves around established techniques (e.g. steroid measurement) and the development of new methods on request. We have two machines (TSQ Quantum Ultra and a new Thermo Quantiva) designed for targeted analysis of known compounds in complex mixtures (e.g. plasma). These machines have a 1500m/z upper limit and so are specifically designed for the measurement of both naturally occurring and synthetically produced small molecules. Parts of our sample preparation procedures are automated, allowing for a higher throughput and analysis of larger sample sets.

Thermo Quantiva

Q-Exactive High resolution quadrupole / orbitrap mass spectrometer  

In addition to targeted analysis via the triple quads we also have a Q-Exactive for (mainly) untargeted metabolic profiling. This machine allows researchers to see the entire ‘forest’ of compounds in a sample and compare variations across treatments or subject groups. This technology is used extensively across the world by researchers looking for biomarkers in biological samples (plasma, CSF, stool, hair etc.). A typical run will reveal over 400 different compounds across a variety of classes, many of which can be positively identified.


Ultra High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (UPLC) system

We have a long established UPLC method for the measurement of physiological amino acids from a variety of fluids. This is based on the Waters Accutag method and results utilising it have been published in a large number of journal articles. We are transferring this method onto our LCMSMS which will increase the number of quantifiable compounds from 24 to 40.

In addition to established techniques we have the capability to develop new methods either from scratch or from publications. We have two technical staff members who run both the LCMSMS and UPLC equipment, with extensive experience developing new methods on both platforms.

Genomics and DNA Sequencing

Genomics and DNA Sequencing

The Liggins Institute hosts the Grafton Genomics facility. Within this facility is a Sequenom and Ion Torrent NGS sequencer for sequencing for DNA, RNA and miRNA. This equipment can do genotyping (SNP analysis), exome sequencing, transcriptome sequencing (RNA), and can also detect changes in methylation patterns. The facility provides a complete genomics service from sample extraction to primer design and then through to data presentation.


Additional capabilities

Epimotion pipetting robot

Molecular Biology

The Institute is equipped with PCR, real time PCR (Quant Studio 6 and LightCycler), gel imaging (ChemiDoc), and various protein, DNA and RNA quantitation devices (Direct Detect, Agilent Bioanalyser, N60 Nanophotometer and Qubit). In conjunction with these devices are two Epimotion pipetting robots with a variety of attachments to facilitate the addition of small quantities of reagents to 96 and 386 well PCR plates.

Histology and Microscopy

The Institute has extensive histology facilities with a range of Canon, Leica and Zeiss compound microscopes some of which have fluorescence and imaging capabilities. The laboratory also has microtomes for tissue sectioning and a Leica cryostat for preparing both fresh and fixed frozen sections.

Cell & Tissue Culture Room

Cell and Tissue Culture Facility

There are three well-equipped cell and tissue culture rooms in the laboratory. Each room has a selection of biological safety cabinets and CO2 incubators. Methodologies employed within this facility include: gene transfection, siRNA mediated knockdown and cancer cell biology. One room has a hypoxic chamber and tri-gas incubator for studying the effects of low oxygen levels on growing cells.


Use our laboratory

For information on any of the facilities listed above, to enquire about equipment use or to request a quote for sample analysis, please contact the Laboratory Manager, Eric Thorstensen