Welcome to the Genomics Core Facility!

The Genomics Core Facility, provides state-of-the-art genomics and proteomics equipment and services to researchers within the Department of Bioenigneering, collaborators and from time to time external customers. 

The facility has close ties to many others including, microbiology (for cloning), in-vivo (genotyping and expression studies) and well as cell and tissue culture analysis.  

South Kensignton Campus, room B113, Level 1 Bessemer Building. 


White City Campus, room 302, Level 3 Uren building.



Access: Induction and Training

Access to the facility is granted by the core facility manager upon proof of training, Bio1 risk assessment, knowledge of potential risks, potentially Hepatitis B immunisation, and proficiency in standard and containment level 2 special practices before working with biological agents. On-site induction training in biosafety and standard operational procedures will be provided by the core facility manager.​ This process is detailed below:

Training Essentials


Biological Safety - Foundation Training 1. Pdf manual – cell culture basics  1.  Sterile Technique       

 The Fundamentals of Cell Culture​Provided by The Health Protection Agency (note: cost involved)

2. Using a haemocytometer (cell counting)  2.  Passaging cells 
Compressed Gases and Connecting Gas RegulatorsRisk Assessment Foundation Training (RAFT) 3. Understand and Managing Cell Culture Contamination 3.  Freezing cells         
    4.  Thawing cells    ​ 
    5. Cell culture contamination  
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Essential for lab training


  • To note, usage charges cover maintenance and running of equipment. New equipment is added by academic cost sharing and grant proposals.

    Departmental Equipment Wish List - Items of equipment can be added to the departmental equipment wish list for addition to future PI grants and shared multi-user grant proposals. Examples of current items include a new cryostat, microtome and embedding station. Once added to the core facility the equipment is management, serviced and maintained by the Core Facility Technical Team.

    South Kensington 

     Labnet's MultiGene Gradient Thermocycler Labnet's MultiGene Gradient Thermocycler

    This thermocycler provides consistent, reliable results while making gradient technology affordable. This unit is extremely simple to program, compact in design and built to perform.
     Step One Plus Real Time PCR machine  

    Step One Plus Real-Time PCR machine

    A 96 well instrument for applications such as SNP Genotyping, Gene Expression Analysis, MicroRNA Expression, Protein Expression, Translocation Analysis, Gene Detection, Viral Load Analysis. 

    Electrophoresis equipment  

    Electrophoresis equipment

    A wide choice of electrophoresis apparatus and blotting apparatus is provided for protein and nucleic acid applications

    BD Accuri C6 Flow Cytometer with sampler  

    BD Accuri C6 Flow Cytometer with sampler

    A unique low-pressure pumping system drives the fluidics. A sheath-focused core enables event rates of up to 10,000 events per second and a sample concentration of over 5 x 106 cells per mL. In addition, the system derives sample volume and can calculate absolute counts or sample concentration per microliter.

    UVP Sterile PCR and workstation 

    UVP Sterile PCR and workstation

    Equipped with an open UV lamp installed in the upper part of the hood. Ideal for Nucleic acid extractions, PCR. 

    UVP Biospectrum imaging system  

    UVP Biospectrum imaging system

    Gel doc, DNA, protein gels, chemiluminescence blots, TLC gels and 2D gels with 5MP camera)

    ThermoFisher Fluroskan FL Microplate Fluorometer and Luminometer  

    ThermoFisher Fluroskan FL Microplate Fluorometer and Luminometer

    Perform a number of fluorometric and luminometric research applications with the Thermo Scientific™ Fluoroskan Ascent™ FL Microplate Fluorometer and Luminometer, which offers versatile plate formats, fast plate reading speeds, top/bottom plate reading and up to three dispensers

     Thermo Scientific Varioskan Flash Plate reader

    Thermo Scientific Varioskan Flash Plate reader

    Delivers excellent performance in imperious research assays and spectral scanning. This equipment ensures remarkable versatility for a huge range of implementations with the inclusion of up to three onboard dispensers, unconditional wavelength selection, effortless measurement setup with automated internal functions, incomparable optical performance in addition to a highly innovative Thermo Scientific SkanIt* Software.

     Eppendorf Biospectrophotometer

     Eppendorf Biospectrophotometer

    Measurement of DNA, RNA and protein concentration (UV and colourimetric). Applications: Incorporation rate of fluorescent molecules (550 nm/650nm), e.g. for microarray experiments, Enzymatic assays (e.g., peroxidase, alkaline phosphatase, beta-galactosidase) and Optical density of cells (OD 600) etc.

     Refrigerated mini centrifuges   

    Refrigerated mini centrifuges

    1.5 and 2ml tubes. 13,000rpm. 


    Departmental Equipment Wish List

    Items of equipment can be added to the departmental equipment wish list for addition to future PI grants and shared multi-user grant proposals. Examples of current items include a new cryostat, microtome and embedding station. Once added to the core facility the equipment is management, serviced and maintained by the Core Facility Technical Team.


    White City


    Clariostar Plus

    The Clariostar Plus plate reader is a high-performance microplate reader offering a range of application including UV/vis     absorbance, protein-protein interactions, enzyme activity and kinetic assays and cell-based assay. The LVis plate that   comes   with this reader can quantify concentrations of DNA and RNA in up to 12 samples.


    QPCR Quantstudio 3 

    The QuantStudio is a simple real-time PCR machine which allows users to look at gene expression, copy number variation, protein detection and various other applications. With this software users can remotely monitor runs, results and collaborate with colleagues.

     thermocycler  can a

    ThermoFisher Proflex 3X32 Thermocycler

    This ProFlex Thermocycler has 3 individual blocks containing 32 wells each allowing users to run three separate experiments simultaneously, with an easy to use touchscreen interface.


    Azure 280

    The Azure 280 is a high-performance imaging system with an easy to use interface allowing the user to take quick pictures of gels and blots. The 280 features colour imaging, blue and UV light imaging and chemiluminescence.


    Sonicator Q500

    The Q500 is an easy to use sonicator which uses ultrasonic sound to process samples. It has applications such as nanoparticle dispersion, cell lysis, homogenization and much more and can be programmed for up to 10 hours. This sonicator has a sound enclosure to protect the user from the high pitch noise and reducing the noise by approximately 20 dBa.

     elec equip

     Electrophoresis equipment

    A range of equipment from Biorad such as gel tanks, combs, power supplies, docking stations, etc to run agarose gels and Western blots.

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User Registration
  • Registered and working in Bioengineering
  • Imperial College, not registered in Bioengineering
  • Only visiting Bioengineering offices (not labs), registered in other department
  • Not registered at Imperial College (maintenance or contractor with guest card)
Core facility induction requested for:
Tissue Culture - B114
Tissue Culture - B631
3D printing
Mechanical workshop
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The Genomics Facility, is a multi-user laboratory managed and overseen by the departmental dedicated technician \ facility manager (with support from the wider technical team), in the Department of Bioengineering to provide core Genomics and proteomics equipment and services, including

  • PCR (including RT, Q as well as standard PCR)
  • UV cabinets for sterility
  • Gel electrophoresis and imaging
  • Plate readers

All researchers using this space must adhere to strict rules on aseptic techniques, including housekeeping standards of care and quality. This is both to protect the users, but is essential for protecting the work and preventing contamination of genomic samples.

1. Genomic DNA Isolation:

As DNA is present in the nucleus of the cell, many methods are used to disrupt the external barriers like extracellular matrix, nuclear envelope and cell wall in case of plants.

These are achieved by treating the tissue or the cell with various types of detergents, which dissolve the external barriers. In case of plant cell, some enzymes are used like cellulase, pectinase, cellobiosidase, xylanase etc. which break down the cell wall.

Once the cell is broken the debris (extracellular matrix, membrane etc.) are removed by high speed centrifugation. After centrifugation the unwanted proteins and RNA is removed by treating with enzymes like protease (break down proteins) and RNAse (break-down RNA).

For isolation of very pure form of DNA, a technique called Density gradient ultracentrifugation is used (Fig. 81). In this, different cellular components are put on a gradient with varying densities (NaCl and Sucrose is used) and they are centrifuged at a very high speed of 40,000 rotation per minute to 70,000 (r.p.m.).

As different cellular components have different densities, they migrate and stop at the gradient where their density is equal to the density of NaCl and sucrose. In this way, DNA also stops at a particular density and it is extracted from the gradient tube.

Schematic representation of a Density gradient centrifugation tube

2. Separation of DNA:

DNA molecules are negatively charged, so when they are subjected to an electric field they move from negative to positive electrode. For the movement of the DNA under the influence of electric current a medium is used which is called gel. This is a semisolid substance made from polymers like Agarose, Poly acrylamide etc.

This gelling material forms a porous network of fibers and the DNA molecules move through these pores. For separating large DNA molecules Agarose gel is used and for separating small DNA fragments Polyacrylamide gel is used. This method is called Gel Electrophoresis. For gel electrophoresis, a buffer is used which is involved in conducting the current across the gel.

When DNA molecules move from negative to positive electrode, the larger DNA molecules move slowly and are nearer to the negative pole. The smaller DNA molecules move faster and are positioned more towards the positive pole. This phenomenon is depicted in Fig. 8.2.

Schematic representation of an agarose gel

3. Cutting and Joining of DNA:

The recombinant DNA technology mainly involves the precise cutting and joining of DNA molecules. Special types of enzymes are used to cut DNA at a particular site, these are called Restriction Enzymes. The characteristic feature of the restriction enzyme is that it recognizes specific sequence (nucleotides) on the DNA molecules and cuts at that site. By this precise cutting they generate compatible ends of DNA molecule which can be later joined.

The type of sequence which is recognized by the restriction enzymes are called palindrome sequence (these are sequence which are mirror image of each other—Fig. 8.3). Once the DNA is cut by a restriction enzyme, the two pieces of any DNA molecule can be joined by another enzyme called Ligase.

4. Cloning and Vectors:

For inserting a piece of foreign DNA and to propagate the DNA fragment for large scale production a vector is used. Vectors are cloning vehicles which can replicate inside an appropriate host. Many different types of vectors are used for Molecular cloning—these are mainly Plasmid (circular double stranded DNA molecule), Cosmid (circular DNA molecules which can be also packaged inside a virus), bacteriophage (virus infecting different bacterial strains), etc. (Miller, 1992).

Once the appropriate vector is selected, it is cut by restriction enzyme to create a site for the insertion of the foreign DNA. Then the foreign DNA is ligated to the vector and is transferred into a host cell where the vector, along with the foreign DNA, can multiply. To select the vector inside the host cell, various type of selectable markers are used—like antibiotic resistance etc.

Schematic representation of action of a restriction enzyme on DNA

5. Detection of Gene of Interest:

For detecting a particular gene of interest the techniques which are commonly used are Southern Hybridization, Colony Hybridization, Dot blot (Sambrook et al. 1989). The principle behind these methods is simple. The DNA molecule of our interest which we want to detect is called the Target.

The DNA molecule with a known sequence with which we are going to detect the target molecule in a mixture of other DNA molecule is called a probe. The probe is prepared by incorporating radioactive isotope of phosphate. Usually P32 or P33 radio­isotope of phosphate is used. The P32 or P33 is incorporated into dATP which is the building block of DNA. These are then incorporated in the probe molecule by the process called Labeling.

In Southern Hybridization, the target DNA molecule is separated according to its molecular weight by Agarose or polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Then DNA in the gel is denatured (DNA becomes single stranded) using an alkali like NaOH. After denaturation the DNA is transferred on to a solid surface like membranes made up of Nylon or Nitrocellulose.

The DNA transferred on the membrane is used as an replica and it is hybridized with the radiolabeled probe. After hybridization is over, the membrane is washed with buffers so that non-specific binding of the probe is removed.

The membrane is then dried and put in an X-ray autoradiography cassette. After exposure of the membrane bound probe with the X-ray film, the radioactive signal is detected on the X-ray sheet. The signal corresponds to the position of the gene of interest.

6. Recombinant DNA and Cloning:

Recombinant DNA is a chimeric DNA molecule which contains DNA from one source and some part of the DNA molecule is from another source. As explained earlier, the DNA molecule can be cut precisely at a particular point with the help of restriction enzymes. When two DNA molecules is cut with a particular restriction enzyme and are then joined by an enzyme called a ligase, the resulting DNA molecule is called a chimeric or recombinant DNA molecule.

Cloning and production of identical DNA Molecules

Cloning means production of exact copy of any material. It is just like a Xerox machine, which keeps on producing the same copy of a document. Cloning is an essential part of Recombinant DNA technology. Cloning of a DNA molecule means producing identical copies of that DNA molecule. In this the DNA molecule is joined with a vector or vehicle (which is explained in the earlier section).

Top 8 Techniques used in Genomics – Explained !






7. Production of Multiple Copies of DNA Using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR):

Multiple copies of a DNA molecule can be produced by PCR. In 1983, biochemist Kary Mullis established the principle of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This can only be done if parts of the sequence in question are known. In this the template DNA molecule (from which we want to make multiple copies) is denatured at high temperature 94°- 95°C (DNA becomes single-stranded form).

Then short single-stranded DNA are added known as primers (oligonucleotides of usually 20-25 bases in length). They mark the starting point of DNA synthesis once DNA polymerase and deoxynucleoside triphosphates have been added. Primers are homologues to the sequence of the template DNA.

The primers bind to the homologues sequence on the template DNA and this process is called annealing. Two primers are chosen which ensure through their position on the DNA fragment that synthesis starts at opposite ends of the fragment, bearing in mind that enzymatic polymerization runs from 5′ to 3′. After annealing a thermostable DNA polymerase is added called as Taq polymerase (derived from a heat-stable bacterium Thermus aquaticus and works at 72°C).

This thermostable polymerase is active even at higher temperatures like 94°-95°C. This polymerase keeps on adding the complementary bases to the primers and a new DNA molecule is synthesized. This entire process is repeated several times and each time it is called a cycle. Due to this reason the technique is called a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

In PCR the DNA is amplified in an exponential manner. This means that from one DNA molecule two DNA molecules are produced. These two DNA molecules serve as templates in the next cycle and forms four DNA molecules. This entire process is repeated in cyclic manner.

The repeated change in the temperature to complete different steps in a PCR cycle is done in a machine called a Thermal cycler (PCR machine). This is a Peltier technology based microprocessor controlled device, which is capable of quick change in temperature in few seconds (Fig. 8.5).

PCR cycle of an DNA molecule


PCR is used not only for the amplification of genomic DNA, but also for detecting and analyzing RNA expression as well as cloning expressed genes. In these cases, the amplification process is preceded by a reverse transcriptase (RT) reaction. Form the RNA material to the analyzed, single-stranded cDNA is synthesized. This is known as RT- PCR.











8. DNA Sequencing:

To determine the sequence of a stretch of DNA a technique known as Sanger method of di+deoxy sequencing is used. In this method, the DNA is denatured and the primer is allowed to anneal to the DNA strand. Then the polymerization reaction is carried out in the presence of Klenow DNA polymerase and dNTP (deoxy ribo nucleotide triphosphate). Usually four reactions carried out and in each reaction are along with the mixture of dNTP, a di+deoxy nucleotide triphosphate (dd-NTP) is used— e.g. dd-ATP, dd-GTP, dd-CTP, dd-TTP (Fig. 8.6).

Dideoxy DNA sequencing of DNA fragment


The principle behind the reaction is that the DNA Polymerase will synthesize the complementary strand of DNA and, during the synthesis, when the dd-NTP derivative is incorporated, the reaction will stop as there will be no available free hydroxyl group at the 3′ end. By this process fragments of different length will be produced which will be rediolabelled at the 5′ end.

These small fragments are then resolved in an Acylamide- Urea sequencing gel and Autoradiography is done to know the exact position of the bands. From the position of the bands we can determine the sequence of the DNA as the lowest band (smallest band) will be the first base at which the sequence is terminated.



PCR can be decribed in 3 broad terms, each with their own use and requirements

  1. PCR - Polimerase Chain reaction - a basic check of the presence of genes, often used for genotyping
  2. QPCR - quantatative PCR - a quantification of how many of a gene is present in the sample
  3. RT-PCR - Reverse transcriptase PCR - Analysis of RNA's and genomic transcriptions

1. PCR

2. Q-PCR


Plate reader

Fluoroskan™ Microplate Fluorometer

The Thermo Scientific Fluoroskan FL is a compact and robust microplate fluorometer and luminometer, offering simplicity and reliability for increased efficiency of workflows. Featuring excellent optical performance, the Fluoroskan FL Microplate Fluorometer and Luminometer is ideal for life science fluorometric and luminometric assays. The Fluoroskan FL fluorometer and luminometer offers plate format versatility, fast plate reading speeds, and up to three dispensers.

• High sensitivity for both top and bottom reading
• Fast reading speed essential for kinetic applications
• Onboard dispensers for precise initiation of kinetic reactions
• Powerful and easy-to-use Thermo Scientific SkanIt software

High sensitivity for both top and bottom reading
The use of fiberless direct illumination optics for both top and bottom reading enables high sensitivity, a wide dynamic range, and accurate and precise results for 6- to 384-well plates.

Fast reading speed essential for kinetic applications
The Fluoroskan FL Microplate Fluorometer and Luminometer is capable of reading a 96-well plate in just 18 seconds, essential for kinetic applications. Fluorometric GFP measurement and luminometric luciferase measurement from the same well occurs quickly due to the versatility of the assay programming.

Onboard dispensers precise initiation of kinetic reactions
The Fluoroskan FL Microplate Fluorometer and Luminometer can be equipped with up to three reagent dispensers* for use during fast kinetic assays, such as Ca2+ flux assays. The onboard dispensers support simultaneous dispensing and reading, enabling the monitoring of fast kinetic measurements from the very start of the reaction. Very low dead volume and backflush capability support conservation of reagents.
*Upgrade to third dispenser must be performed by service technician

Powerful and easy-to-use SkanIt software
With a visual workflow setup, SkanIt software is quick and easy to learn. It offers effortless data analysis (with a comprehensive selection of built-in calculations, including blank subtraction, standard curve creation, classification, quality control, kinetic analysis) and exporting capabilities. Each user can install SkanIt software on his/her own computer to set up assays and analyze data.

SkanIt PC Software and the following filter pairs (excitation/emission): 355 nm/460 nm, 485 nm/538 nm. An extensive selection of additional filters is available upon request.

Applications include:
Ca2+ flux assays , cell proliferation, cytotoxicity, cell adhesion, nucleic acid quantitation, reporter gene assays, hybridization assays, ion channel, FRET assays, BRET assays, immunoassays, enzyme activity, bacterial quantitation, phagocytosis, oligonucleotide assays