Liggins Institute

Laboratory science

Discoveries in basic science underpin much of the Liggins’ research. Our well-equipped laboratory facilities are used to test and uncover the cellular and biochemical mechanisms behind normal and abnormal processes that are observed in humans and model systems.

Sequenom facility

Sequenom is a state-of-the-art, high throughput genetic analysis tool that translates genomic science into solutions for biomedical research, molecular medicine, agricultural, and non-invasive prenatal testing laboratories. The MassArray System provides results for a number of DNA analysis applications, including quantitative methylation analysis, Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) genotyping and allelotyping, as well as quantitative gene expression analysis.

For further information contact Phillip Shepherd, Operations Manager - Sequenom Facility


Histology and microscopy including confocal microscope

Histology laboratory

The institute has first class histology facilities with a range of Leica and Zeiss compound microscopes some of which have fluorescence and imaging capabilities, including a laser dissection microscope (PALM microbeam).
The laboratory has full capability for preparing paraffin wax-embedded sections, including:

  • Leica ASP 300 fully automated tissue processor and two embedding centres (Shandon and Leica)
  • microtomes for tissue sectioning, including Leica rotary microtomes for paraffin embedded tissues, a Microm sledge freezing microtome and Leica cryostat for preparing both fresh and fixed frozen sections.

Confocal microscope

The institute’s LSM 510 META confocal microscope from Carl Zeiss addresses the growing need of users in biomedical research to discover the complex relations and interactions between cellular structures and components, and to trace them in living cells or tissues. This milestone development is based on a confocal detection technique combining innovative detector technology with intelligent analytical methods.

The confocal and laser dissection microscopes are available for use by external users and may be booked for a nominal fee.

Bookings and further information contact Eric Thorstensen


Molecular biology laboratory

This facility is equipped with PCR, real time PCR (Applied Biosystems 7900HT), gel imaging (UVP Bilmaging System), microarray (Axon Genepix 4200A) and a phosphor imaging system (Fujifilm FLA-5100). A full range of gel electrophoresis apparatus and other systems required for Northern, Southern and Western blot analysis and variations. Both level 1 and 2 containment laboratories are available, as are all genetic manipulation methodologies, including gene targeting. Signal transduction methodologies including transcriptional assays are standard.


Proteomics laboratory

This facility is set up for high through-put large and small scale 2D gel electrophoresis plus other instruments including:

  • 2 x Multiphor™ II flatbed electrophoresis system and IPGphor for first dimension plus mini-PROTEAN 3 Dodeca Cell and PROTEAN Plus Dodeca Cell for second dimension
  • 1D PAGE- High-resolution pre-cast protein gel system for SDS and NATIVE-PAGE using Invitrogen XCell SureLock® Mini-Cell
  • Large Dodeca Stainer : a high through-put staining device to accommodate up to 12 large format gels (PROTEAN Plus) to ensure uniform gel staining, providing optimal staining efficiency whilst protecting gels from breaking.
  • Molecular Imager GS-800 Calibrated Densitometer: a fluorescent white light flat-bed imager offering calibrated transmittance and true reflective scanning capabilities that allows accurate and sensitive detection of both transparent and opaque samples. Packaged with Quantity One 1-D Analysis Software which allows image acquisition, flexible lane /band analysis, quick and easy quantitation and other functions.
  • FUJIFILM FLA 5100: a multiple laser system allowing imaging of samples as large as 40 x 46cm at pixel size as low as 10 microns. Especially suitable for use in the proteomics field because both the fluorescent imaging of SYPRO Dye stained 2D gel and digitizing of CBB or silver stained 2D gel can be performed but also for use in general array analysis for genomics. While optimized for fluorescence, the system also excels at radioisotope (RI) detection using the Imaging Plate method and chemiluminescence detection by the direct detection method. Accompanying software Image Reader and Multi Gauge for simple, versatile acquisition and detailed analysis of multi-channel data which can be pseudo-colored for differentiation and overlapped, or viewed in parallel.
  • ProteomeWorks Spot cutter - with operating software allows automated excision and deposition of protein/peptide spots from gels into microplate wells for further characterisation and identification by mass spectrometry
  • PE Multi-Probe II EX, (robotic liquid handler system) - A Flexible 4-Tip pipetting workstation for genomics and proteomics, which enables dispensing low volumes into microplates. Associated software for creating and optimizing protocols from simple assays to vacuum filtration protocols, MALDI spotting, device integrations and more.

Cell and tissue culture facility

This offers a large well-equipped facility with eight biological safety hoods and CO2 incubators. Methodologies used include gene transfection, siRNA mediated knockdown, and methods used in cellular neurobiology, stem and cancer cell biology.


Analytical biochemistry laboratory

The Liggins Institute has a wide range of analytical tools for measuring small molecules, hormones and peptides. This includes

  • an advanced Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry system (Thermo Finnigan TSQ Quantum Ultra AM) connected to a Waters Alliance HPLC system (2795)
  • three additional HPLC’s (Alliance Waters 2690/2695)
  • a FPLC (Pharmacia Biotech AKTA Explorer) for size exclusion chromatography
  • a clinical chemistry analyser (Hitachi 902) which measures a range of metabolites in plasma
  • an Abbott Axsym for a variety of automated immuno assays (eg. Insulin, cortisol, homocysteine and thyroid hormones).

In addition to these our laboratory specialises in radio-immuno assays (RIA’s) to measure growth factors and insulin in animal samples.

The analytical laboratory supports a wide range of Liggins-based projects, in particular, projects investigating the effects of nutrition on growth and long-term health outcomes. We also undertake work for researchers outside the institute and commercial customers.

For further information please contact Eric Thorstensen