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This message board was active in 1997-98.  It was replaced by the Discussion Web.

bullet Name: Audrey Pearson
bullet Title: Research Manager – Life Sciences
bullet Company: Fisher Company, UK
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 12/3/98
bullet Subject: Lab on a chip, (LOC)
bullet Comments:

I am very interested in ‘Laboratory on a chip’ technology from the perspective of an
equipment supplier. I am interested in understanding better the likely impact of LOC on
usage of equipment and reagents and also possible opportunities such developments could
present. Would appreciate hearing from any interested parties.

bullet Name: Elize M. Lubbe
bullet Company: Plant Protection Research Institute, Republic of South Africa
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 11/22/98
bullet Subject: Establishing a natural products screening lab
bullet Comments:

We are planning to establish a lab to screen natural products of South
Africa in a large national bioprospecting program. High throughput screening is an area
totally new to South Africa and the very first step was to attend ISLAR and find out what
it is all about. As you might know, it was a bit too technical for someone like me just
endeavouring HTS and some of the basic principles have not been covered.

We are looking
into the discovery of novel agrochemical products, and the agrochemical divisions were
also not presented as well as I hoped it would be. To draw up a proper budget and business
plan for our proposal we need to have some answers to certain questions, but we  are
isolated from the technology and expertise. If you can’t help   me, please could you
refer me to someone that could or perhaps throw  this open to some kind of

1. What targets are used in screening for fungicides, insecticides and herbicides?

2. Is it whole organisms or can you also use specificity assays like in the pharmaceutical

3. If you can use some of those assays, which are they?

4. Are they proprietary or is there some general information available?

5. What is the most appropriate hit ratio we should use?  (I gathered that you can
set it yourself)

6. How do you screen for large molecules (proteins)?  

Thanking you in advance!!

bullet Name: Kim Davis
bullet Company: Digene Corp.
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 10/29/98
bullet Subject: Robotics in a clinical laboratory setting
bullet Comments:

I am looking for feedback from anyone using an automated system in a clinical laboratory
setting. I am especially interested in a Rosys system, but info on other systems would be

bullet Name: Robert J. Kreitman, M.D.
bullet Company: NIH
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 10/22/98
bullet Subject: 96-well pipettor
bullet Comments:

I once saw an ad for a non-electric 96-well pipetter that simply fits onto an entire box
of 96 pipette tips and pipettes an entire 96-well plate at once. I cannot find this
product again. Has anyone else seen it?

bullet Name: Ph. VAYER
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 10/2/98
bullet Subject: Automation of CaCO2 experiments
bullet Comments:

Has someone automated Caco2 experiments? If yes which kind of robot do you use. Thank you
in advance.

bullet Name: Daniel Coulter
bullet Company: L G Biomedical Institute
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 9/18/98
bullet Subject: HTS methods development
bullet Comments:

We’re interested in obtaining books, manuals or classroom experience on HTS methods
development. Besides the "Journal of Biomolecular Screening", which resources
could you recommend or offer?

bullet Name: Victor Holland
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 9/1/98
bullet Subject: Plate sealing and bar coding
bullet Comments:

Is anyone using plate sealing and/or print and apply barcoding on microplates in an
automated system?  I am interested in hearing your experiences using what is on the
market now.  Thanks!

bullet Name: Jennifer M. Biesterfeldt
bullet Company: Mayo Clinic
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 8/4/98
bullet Subject: DNA Purification
bullet Comments:

I am a research technologist at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ. We are currently interested
in automating the purification of DNA from tissue samples. I would appreciate any
information which would further our pursuit of this goal.

bullet Name: Brian Ruf
bullet Company: E & K Scientific Products
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 8/1/98
bullet Subject: Zymark tips used on the Multimek
bullet Comments:

I have heard it is possible to use the Zymark certified pipet tips on the Beckman
Multimek, instead of the recommended Robbins tips. Is anyone successfully doing this? I
understand there is some modification to the robot required.

bullet Name: Andy Hopwood, DNA automation group, Research And Development
bullet Company: The Forensic Science Service,
Birmingham, UK
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 7/18/98
bullet Subject: Automation-friendly sample tube
bullet Comments:

We have automated systems under development/in validation phase for 1. DNA quantification,
dilution and PCR set-up and 2. Preparation of PCR product for 48 or 96-lane gel running
(ABD 377). Our next project will be DNA extraction from a pressed paper buccal scrape. I
would like to be able to extract DNA from the sample matrix in the sample submission tube
(currently standard 1.5 ml mictrocentrifuge tube). To this end, we require a new sample
tube type (preferably in polypropylene) that allows penetration of the cap with a standard
200 µl disposable tip to allow addition and removal of lysis solution. Does anybody have
any suggestions?

bullet Name: Kerry Armour, Product Manager, CytoFluor Products
bullet Company: PE Biosystems
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 7/17/98
bullet Subject: HTS manual
bullet Comments:

I’m looking for a good review article or website or short book publication or something
that provides a good background education on what High Throughput Screening is and why
it’s important to pharmaceutical development. The intent is to use this as a training tool
for sales people that are selling into this enviroment. They need a 50,000 foot view of
what screening is and have an idea about the assays used. Explanations of acronyms like
SAR and the like is also helpful!

bullet Name: David Meyer
bullet Company: Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc
bullet Email:
bullet Web Site:
bullet Date: 6/25/98
bullet Subject: 96 Channel Transfers
bullet Comments:

I am looking for a machine that will transfer liquid from one 96 well plate to another 96
well plate, ideally with a 96 channel head. I also need this machine to be able to change
tips after every plate. So ideally it would be a PlateMate with the ability to change
tips, and stackers which will hold up to about 50 plates.

bullet Name: Dr. Alexei Yu. Tyurin
bullet Company: N.D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic
Chemistry of Russian Academy of Science
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 6/11/98
bullet Subject: CombiChem Compounds
bullet Comments:

I represent a division in N.D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry of Russian Academy
of Science, the biggest chemical center in Russia. This division was recently organized
and produced reagents for synthesis and starting compounds for combinatorial chemistry.
Our division includes a many qualified chemists and extensive instrumental base. We are
able to ensure reliable quality for produced compounds with using modern
physicist-chemical methods. If you find this information helpful to your business please
let me know and I will send you further additional information about us.

bullet Name: Richard Mateles
bullet Company: Candida Corporation
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 6/7/98
bullet Subject: QBot(?)
bullet Comments:

I’ve been told about some robotics manufactured by a company whose name sounded like QBot.
I’d like to know a phone number and address for the company, so I can contact them.

bullet Name: Christian Deschenes
bullet Company: Molecular BioProducts
bullet Email:
bullet Web Site:
bullet Date: 6/6/98
bullet Subject: Pipette Tips
bullet Comments:

I am a project engineer at Molecular BioProducts (MBP). MBP manufactures pipette tips for
manual pipettor and for robotics system. I am responsible for developing new products.

Every time I have a new products, I am looking for persons to participate in a final beta
testing phase. We usually give free products ( pipette tips) to the persons willing to
test the products. I am also interested in listening the users of robotics systems, to see
if they have a need for a new products.

bullet Name: Colin Cook, Section Leader
bullet Company: State Chemistry Laboratory, Melbourne,
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 6/3/98
bullet Subject: Pesticide Residue Monitoring
bullet Comments:

Our laboratory is in the early stages of a feasibility study to determine the benefits of
automating sample extraction and cleanup in pesticide residue monitoring. We would be
interested in hearing from anyone who has done this (or merely attempted it) to find out
the benefits achieved, pitfalls for the unwary etc..

bullet Name: Kevin McKernan, Team Leader of Development
bullet Company: Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 5/5/98
bullet Subject: Robotics in High-Throughput Seq
bullet Comments:

We at Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research, also have experience with
all of these robots. I manage the Development Team and we are responsible for The
Automation and Biochemistry it performs.

We are routinely running 2 and 3 ul reactions
into 384 thermocycling plates for ET sequencing.

We do this with Packard 104 (slightly modified). These Robots we have found to be
extremely reliable, easy to program, and hard to break. These robots have been modified so
that 1 z-rod has a 12-channel Cavro driven pipet on it. The Cavros are controlled via
RS-232 from the Packard’s PC and allow direct firmware commands to be sent to the Cavro’s.
This allows extreme programming flexibility and the ability to dispense 500nl (I have
heard of people doing 100nl 3%CV) by tweaking with backlash and dispense speeds. These
robots become extremely flexible with 1 12 channel for bulk work and 3 independent
varispan tips for rearraying work. They are all easily integrated with a CRS A465 robot.

3 Packards surrounding a CRS routinely do 20 384 Seq rxn setups an hour! Failure rate =
2% (due to dropped plates primarily) We have sequenced 10MegaBases of finished Seq with
these to date. We are currently getting drawings to Packard Instruments to have this model
a Production Model. See development web site for code.The canned protocols "easyprep" are generally worthless, but
if you want low volume touchoff procedures you’ll need to get your hands dirty with C.

Packard Multiprobe II- I’ve been to the manufacturing plant to see these and they are
truly a better robot than the old ones. 1536 capable, antirotational rods- all stepper
motor based with absolute encoders and great software. -No more easyprep.

Tecan Minipreps. Very fast- stepper motor based- No customer support. Reliable but no
control over the firmware commands to the Cavros so our low volume reaction becoming more
prevalent we will be forced to euthanize this robot.

Biochip Processor- Piezo by Packard Instruments. 50pl dispensing easy! Machine gun like
in its speed but be prepared to learn a whole new liquid handling theory. Barometric
pressure can effect these, so can your breath. It is a very sensitive/accurate instrument
and may require you to rethink how your assay is preformed.

Qiagen -Biorobot- This is basically a Rosys which mean that it will eventually break
down. It is a canned protocol that work right out of the box! We set this up in the
morning and had plasmid preps in the afternoon.


CRS A465- better than the A255- In fact don’t waste your time with the small robot. The 6
degrees of freedom offered by the bigger A465 will save you many headaches. This thing we
find to be highly reliable, easy to program. Its scheduling software has bugs and the
company cannot machine racks or carousels for their life, but they do provide good arms.
They are usually very good about PCP drivers for any instrument.

Panasonic Arms. Went to their production facility and they had CRS arms building their
equipment. The company moves like a slug too.

Hydra- Mechanically simple- Slow machine, slow company.


These Opinions do not represent the opinions of Whitehead/MIT CGR


bullet Name: Pete Parsonson, Associate Scientist
bullet Company: Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Drug
Disposition and Safety
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 4/23/98
bullet Subject: Connectivity issues between Excel and Laserjet 5 Scriptwriter in a
Windows NT/Unix network
bullet Comments:

Does anyone have experience with Finnigan TSQ 7000 LC-MS/MS instrumentation? We have one
in our lab that is networked to a UNIX box as the server with three Windows NT 4.0
Workstation clients. We’re having a problem with our fonts printed out of Excel. The data
goes through the UNIX box before being printed and it cuts off words in the spreadsheet.

bullet Name: Ashraf Abdelmoteleb
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 4/19/98
bullet Subject: Robotic Enthusiasts
bullet Comments:

Dear Robotic enthusiasts,

I am an Australian resident and currently on a three months visit in the United states
followed by a short period in the United Kingdom then South East Asia. The main purpose of
this round the world trip to is get information on the international state of laboratory
automation and robotics generally and the possibility of pursuing a full time career in
that field.

The reason which sparked this trip was my failure to find any interesting opportunities in
Australia. Unfortunately, automation is still largely (not always) a numbers game and the
Australian population (not all of them) has a perception that they don’t need it.

I have been involved with laboratory automation for the past three years. I set up
automated protein purification facilities and was responsible for automation development
in a pharmaceutical company in HTS and drug discovery.

I am interested in meeting or hearing from any one who would like to help.

Thank you

bullet Name: Frank J. Cann, Ph.D
bullet Company: Institute of Chemical Defense, US Army
Medical Research
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 4/17/98
bullet Subject: HTS methodology for protease inhibitors or angiotensin converting enzyme
bullet Comments:

Does anyone know if there is a bibliography or source you could refer me to for HTS
methodology which has been published for protease inhibitors or angiotensin converting
enzyme inhibitors?

bullet Name: Richard McCormick
bullet Company: BASF plc
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 3/28/98
bullet Subject: Novel Dye Synthesis
bullet Comments:

I am currently involved in looking into the automation of various aspects of our (BASF
plc) work on novel dye synthesis, in particular automation of synthesis, purification and
analysis. Being very new to the field, I would greatfully receive any information
regarding Literature, discussion groups and contacts in laboratory robotics in general.
From your web site you seem mostly USA based. I am based in the UK and have, as yet, no
expertise to offer, but would greatly appreciate contact from your uk members.

bullet Name: Dr. Balakrishnan Ganesan
bullet Company: D R D F Pune India
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 3/25/98
bullet Subject: Combinatorial Chemistry
bullet Comments:

I am a Research Scientist working in the above mentioned organisation. Currently I am in
Pursuit of Openings in U.S. and also am interested in carrying out further studies as Post
Doctoral Fellow in the Field of Synthetic Organic Chemistry in American or Australian
Universities(Preferably). The field of Combinatorial Chemistry has fascinated me and am in
search of information regarding the same. Anticipating help from your group I hereby

bullet Name: Jeff Berger
bullet Company: Airfiltronix Corp.
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 3/25/98
bullet Subject: Custom Enclosures
bullet Comments:

How great is the need for positive or negative pressure custom enclosures for use with
laboratory robotic instruments? Airfiltronix builds these enclosures and would like to
hear from researchers and vendors who can provide some insight.

bullet Name: Harry Cole
bullet Company: Genevac, Ipswich, UK
bullet Email:
bullet Web Site:
bullet Date: 3/15/98
bullet Subject: ELISA assays
bullet Comments:

Can anyone tell me if ELISA assays normally require solvent drying in a 96 well plates
format and if so, what solvents would typically be used?  Also, is there a society or
web page dealing exclusively with ELSIA assays.

What does ELISA stand for?

bullet Name: Dr. Leslaw Bieniasz
bullet Company: Institute of Physical Chemistry of the
Polish Academy of Sciences, Molten Salts Laboratory
bullet Email:
bullet Web Site:

bullet Date: 11/20/97
bullet Subject: Scientific Literature on Chemical Laboratory Automation
bullet Comments:

I have been looking for the scientific literature (especially review papers) dealing with
the subject of the chemical laboratory automation.  I would appreciate your advice.

bullet Name: Andrea Tasso
bullet Company: Snamprogetti – RICE/RECA, Catalytic
Reactions Dept
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 11/16/97
bullet Subject: Laboratory Robotics Mailing List
bullet Comments:

Is there any mailing list about laboratory robotics ?  Please send me information
about this.  I do research in catalysis, and I am trying to improve our laboratory
instrumentation for preparation and testing. You can also pass my request to

bullet Name: Shantanu Deo
bullet Company: Panasonic Technologies, Inc. / KMERL
bullet Email:
bullet Date: re-posted from newsgroup
bullet Subject: HTS Scheduling Issues
bullet Comments:

Hello HTS guru’s,

    I am interested in understanding the scheduling issues involved in High
Throughput Screening (HTS). I have a Oper. Research and Comp. Science background, so I
would like to basically understand the practical issues that should be considered when
modeling an HTS environment for scheduling purposes. For example a basic question I have
is do all the compounds in say a 96-well assay go through the same sequence of test ? or
can they have independent testing schedules instead of being stuck together by virtue of
being in the same assay. Also, is the formation of an assay a factor that can be
manipulated in order to get the most throughput (via intelligent scheduling) or is the
assay formation pretty much done without consideration to scheduling concerns.

    Also it would help a lot if someone pointed me to where I can
understand all the strange terms like ELISA ? etc. which I keep encountering without
developing some kind of inkling as to what they mean.

    Finally can anyone tell about what kind of scheduling software is
currently available and its strong points, limits etc. vis-a-vis static and dynamic
scheduling in HTS.

Thanks in advance.

Shantanu Deo

Panasonic Technologies, Inc. / KMERL,

2505 Meridian Parkway, Suite 200, Durham, NC – 27713.


Phone: (919) 484-9015 Ext. 115 Fax : (919) 484-9045.

bullet Name: David Ainscough
bullet Company: Zeneca Pharmaceuticals
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 9/25/97
bullet Subject: Laboratory Robotics Interest Group in the UK?
bullet Comments:

Does anybody know of a similar laboratory robotics interest group in the UK?

bullet Name: Tony Kay
bullet Company: Hill Laboratories
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 9/19/97
bullet Subject: Automated sample weighing system for our soil and plant testing
bullet Comments:

I am interested in finding an automated sample weighing system for our soil and plant
testing laboratories. Both soil and plant materials are in a dried and ground form. The
plants are currently in 150 mL Elkay pottles with lid. The soils are in block bottom paper
bags. I realise that with an automated system these containers may need to be changed. The
operation to be automated is a standard laboratory weighing procedure. The process will
require the robot to: select a container, perhaps open it, take enough sample from it to
weigh between 0.100g and 10.00g depending the test, close the container, transfer it to a
vessel on a balance, record the weight, empty the vessel into, for example, the
appropriate test tube in a nearby rack. We are not in the same league as the
pharmaceutical labs that appear to dominate this topic on the Net, so cost is a real
constraint. If anybody out there has a system they think is suitable for us, please
contact me.

Tony Kay

Soil & Plant Division Manager

Hill Laboratories


New Zealand

bullet Name: Jorge Carmona
bullet Company: Odysis SA
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 9/18/97
bullet Subject: Odysis SA: A New Strategic Partner for Real-Time Rescheduling
bullet Comments:

A new company, Odysis SA has been formed in Pully, Switzerland, to supply scheduling
software technologies and services for building real-time systems for a broad range of
industrial, scientific and commercial applications. Timension ™, the innovative
real-time rescheduling engine which is being developed by Odysis, will allow robot and
instrument manufacturers, software developers and system integrators to build their
time-critical automated applications on a state-of-the-art standardized technology.
Timension can optimize automated systems submitted to unpredictable events and a variety
of constraints. It will contribute to the development of more reliable, productive and
flexible automated systems.

Product highlights include:

– object-oriented package for NT

– interface to C++, Ada95, and VB

– real-time rescheduling

– priorities

– conditional processing

– timeouts

– consumable resources

– resources with limited life duration

– resources with calendar

– time-windows and must dates

– multi-job, multi-batch, multi-process

– assembling-disassembling

– multi-level exceptions handling

– crash recovery

– real-time and simulation

Odysis SA, Case Postale 326, CH-1009 Pully, Switzerland,

Phone: +41 79 206 7369, Fax: +41 79 0 206 7369, E-mail:

bullet Name: Matthias Schick
bullet Company: DKFZ Heidelberg, Abt. Molekulare Genomanalyse
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 8/21/97
bullet Subject: Diploma Thesis and the Beckman Biomek 2000
bullet Comments:

Dear biomek users all over the world !!

I’m the german student writing my diploma thesis about the Biomek 2000 in a department of
the DKFZ Heidelberg, which is the called Resource Centre of the German Human Genome
Project. We use this robot for the basic molecular-biological methods done routinely in
large scale in the lab like PCR for vector-insert-size determination, sequencing
reactions, DNA digests and so on. Most of the projects are realised meanwhile (see
informations below) and I want to write down the results. As an introduction I want to
give the reader a short overview about the usage possibilities of the Biomek-system or
other lab robots existing all around the world. To get these informations I decided to try
this e-mail opinion poll. If you wish I can of course mail you back the results/adresses
you are interested in. Moreover you can ignore all the questions you don’t want to answer
or you can define publishing restrictions. These are the questions I would be very happy
for you to answer.

1) name and adress of your lab/company/department.

2) main research targets and working fields

3) type of the used lab robots and their usage

4) experiences with an enlargement of the biomek 2000-system by introducing non-Beckman-
or Beckman-devices

5) problems apeared during every day use

6) possible improvements of the system

7) degree of satisfaction

Now following the promised descriptions of our Biomek-tuning-projekts. We integrated an
agarose-gel-system by using Bioscript. Therefore we used a gelbox called "The
Centipede" (Owl Scientific Inc.) and a self designed mobile tray connected with the
workstations surface plate.We are now possible to run 96 samples + 4 markerlanes for
insert checking or 192 samples + 8 marker lanes for PCR-checking. The gelrun can be
started by pressing a switch with the Sideloader. Furthermore we constructed and installed
a cooling-system consisting of a cooling plate and different metalblocks for 1.5ml
Eppendorf-tubes and PCR-Microtiterplates. It covers 2 positions e.g. A3 and B3 and is
completely integrated into the BioWorks-System so comfortable usage is possible on every
place of the workstations surface just depending on the length of the tubing for the
cooling water. We also managed to integrate a MJ-Research PCR-machine with a self-closing
lid into a Sideloader stack area by manufacturing a special holder.

With these extensions it is possible to run a complete pcr-insert-checking-reaction
starting with pipetting the reaction on the cooling-system, transporting the plate into
the thermalcycler, running the PCR-programm, taking out the plate and finally loading the
samples on the gel and starting the gel run. The best pcr-plates for this purpose are the
TubePlates from Biozym Diagnostik GmbH Oldendorf (Germany). This product is based on the
96-well-format with individually movable tubes so it can adapt itself to the different
racks and plateholder and easy takeout is possible. If you would like more information we
would be happy to answer your questions.

Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely yours

Matthias Schick

DKFZ Heidelberg

Abt. Molekulare Genomanalyse


Im Neuenheimer Feld 506

69120 Heidelberg


Fax: 06221/42-4704

Tel.:06221/42-4703 or -4701 or -4700


bullet Name: Quan Nguyen, Associate Scientist
bullet Company: Glaxo Wellcome Inc.
bullet Email:
bullet Date: re-posted from bionet.genome.autosequencing
newsgroup 8/13/97
bullet Subject: Hydra 96 Pipettor from Robbins
bullet Comments:

is there anyone out there using the hydra 96 pipettor from robbins
scientific to pool their reactions? specifically i am genotyping microsatellites and am
looking for an alternative for pooling. we currently have a biomek performing that
operation but things could go a bit faster with a 96 channel tool. unfortunately the model
i have – the 280 ul volume, does not seem to allow me to aspirate only 2 ul from a
microtiter plate and dispense that same amount of volume. does anyone have a suggestion on
how i can aspirate only small volumes and recover the full amount without having to
aspirate the whole pcr reaction?


quan nguyen, associate scientist

department of human genetics

glaxo wellcome inc.

5 moore drive

rtp, nc 27709


phone: (919) 483-0776

fax: (919) 483-0315

bullet Name: David R. Fermin
bullet Company: Northwestern University Biomedical Engineering
bullet Email:
bullet Date: re-posted from comp.lang.tcl newsgroup
bullet Subject: Tcl scripts and the Beckman Biomek 2000?
bullet Comments:

I recently began working with the Beckman Biomek 2000 Laboratory Automation
Workstation and I learned that Tcl scripts could be interpreted by the workstation
software. I would like to design a program which would, on a 48-well plate, aspirate media
from one row of wells (using one 1000 uL tip and without leaving the plate), then purge
the media, change tips, and deliver phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) to all the wells in
the row in a repeat-pipet fashion. This would be an extremely valuable function because it
could be used in almost any cell-based assay, and there are currently no provisions for
such an operation in the software short of spending an exorbitant amount on the Wash-1
tool. I have seen some Tcl scripts for the Biomek and I know that this could be done; I
was wondering, though, if anyone with experience could tell me the best way to go about
designing the code. It seems pretty tedious to have to find the exact absolute XYZ
position of every single location to which the robot has to travel! If anyone can be of
any help, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

bullet Name: Simon Smith
bullet Company: SmithKline Beecham, UK.
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 7/21/97
bullet Subject: liquid dilution system for automated UV analyses
bullet Comments:

Can anyone give me the name and phone number of a vendor who can provide a
cheap reliable liquid dilution system for automated UV analyses. We are basically looking
for an advanced autoinjector for our UV spectrophotometer. Thanks, in advance.

bullet Name: Tom McCloud
bullet Company: SAIC/ Frederick Cancer Research
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 7/9/97
bullet Subject: Feeding vials to a robotic pipetting station?
bullet Comments:

I just took delivery of a TECAN Genesis 150 high speed robotic liquid
handling system. Although the robot arm would allow vials full of dissolved sample to be
moved onto the pipetting station, I had the idea that a continuous belt, such as is used
to move vials in a liquid scintillation counter into position, might be a significant
improvement. Has anyone been down this path already? Can you share your experiences,
either good or bad? Will be glad to provide more info to anyone interested in pursueing
this in greater detail.

bullet Name: Dylan Horvath
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 7/7/97
bullet Subject: Biological Actuators
bullet Comments:

While I understand that this is not an area of direct interest to your
group, I was wondering if any of your group members know of work being done by
biotechnologists or biochemists in the area of robotics or industrial use of
biotechnology. I am specifically interested in any work being done to create actuators
(artificial muscles, for example) using biological models or processes.

bullet Name: Harry Cole
bullet Company: Genevac
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 7/1/97
bullet Subject: Evaporation Systems
bullet Comments:

At Genevac we manufacture high throughput vacuum evaporation systems for
use in combinatorial chemistry and natural products research. These systems can be
automated. Please contact me if you would like to know any more about these systems.

bullet Name: Melody L. Jones
bullet Company: Interactive Medical Technology
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 6/30/97
bullet Subject: Tissue Processing
bullet Comments:

We are looking to increase efficiency & automate the mundane steps
involved in tissue processing. We are looking for a machine which can add reagents, lift
samples to be sonicated, aspirated, etc. We are just beginning our search and would
appreciate any information. Thank you

bullet Name: Edge
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 7/21/97
bullet Subject: reply to: Beckman Biomek Interfacing
bullet Comments:

Beckman has an Integration Specialist named Jeff Cahlik in Fullerton, California. He can
probably help you a), determine if your device *can* be integrated and b) determine the
best path to acheive it’s integration.

FYI, I have experience with both the TomTec Quadra and the Sagian Multipette. In the final
analysis it really comes down to flexibility… I suggest looking for the most flexibility
you can get from the software. Every manufacturer *has* to meet their stated
specifications or they are in violation from regulatory agencies. The question is, is
pipetting water the same as pipetting say, glycerine? Probably not, so you need the
flexibility to adapt to the conditions of your assay / method.

bullet Name: Michael Breslav, R.W. Johnson PRI
bullet Email:
bullet Date: re-posted from bionet.molecules.peptides newsgroup 6/8/97
bullet Subject: Synthesizers
bullet Comments:

I am trying to find more info about different synthesizers/sample prep. stations for
the optimization of the synthesis in solution. I found Bohdan, Adv.Chem.Tech, Argonaut,
Zymark, HP. None of the systems is ideal, but I feel, that HP allows a real time
analytical data. However it lacks such features like: constant mixing, inert atmosphere
(unless you put the system in a glove box), precipitates handling. I would appreciate your
comments on HP or other systems that you familiar with, as well as the direction to other
informational resources.

bullet Name: Mark W. Doring
bullet Email:
bullet Date: 6/2/97
bullet Subject: ICAR program
bullet Comments:

As I was looking over the ICAR scientific program that was given last May 14, I
noticed a talk that was to be given by H. Berger of Boehringer Mannheim entitled,
"Microspot: A Highly Integrated Ligand Binding Assay Technology". As I did not
attend, I would be interested in hearing about what this product is all about. I have
contacted Boehringer in the US, and they are currently somewhat less than knowledgeable.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.

bullet Date: reposted from Usenet 5/29/97
bullet Comments:

Has anyone out there written a labware description for the Biomek 2000 which allows
use of 384 well microtitre plates? And is willing to share it? I’ve asked Beckman and they
say yes, but the software upgrade is unlikely to be ready before end ’97 and of course
will cost approx $2500!


Paul Denny

MRC Mouse Genome Centre

Phone: 44-(0)1235-824535 (direct line)

Harwell, Didcot 44-(0)1235-834393

Oxon. Fax: 44-(0)1235-824540

OX11 ORD email:


bullet Name: Carey Cunningham
bullet Email:
bullet Date: reposted from Usenet 5/2/97
bullet Subject: Robotics PCR stations
bullet Comments:

Does anyone have any information on, or experience of, robotics PCR stations? We are
considering a purchase and I’d like to hear of experiences with them, pros and cons in
general and of specific models. In particular, what level of throughput (samples per day)
is required to justify setting the robotics station up?


Marine Laboratory

Aberdeen, UK

bullet Name: Tony Major
bullet Email:
bullet Date: reposted from Usenet 4/29/97
bullet Subject: Resuspending samples?
bullet Comments:

I am curious to know what mechanical aids other people are using to resuspend
samples… We have used both a Biomek 2000 and an 8-channel finnpipette, but both have
their advantages and disadvantages. The Biomek is accurate but slow and expensive to
operate and the finnpipette is inaccurate but inexpensive. Anybody else have an
accurate/fast alternate to dispensing that blue dye into 96 well plates that works?


Lab Tech

UT Southwestern Medical School

Genome Science and Technoloy Center

bullet Name: Stuart
bullet Email:
bullet Date: reposted from Usenet 4/29/97
bullet Subject: Robot Reply
bullet Comments:

Hello All,

At last, the reply to the question I posted all those months ago (!) summarised for you.
First up I’d like to thank all those people who replied to my postings it was good of you
all to take the time and effort to write to me and volunteer your opinions. Next up I
suppose I’m going to have to include all the usual disclaimers (you know the story by now)
– this document does not represent the opinion of my employers, some of it doesn’t even
represent my own opinions…I’m only passing them on and removing the names. I’ve tried to
make everything fair, but not everybody out there with robots replied, so some sections
may slant one way or another a wee bit! In the last few months I’ve spoken to people seen
machines, and even tried one of two and the best advice I can give is that if you are
looking for a system talk to your local reps and see for yourself. In the mean time feel
free to use this as a guide to what other people out there are using.

Oh, just before the main body of this message, in the course of this I spoke to someone
who reminded me that what these machines actually do is mechanise the process of template
prep, reaction set-up, and cycling (depending upon the platform used). None fully
‘automate’ the process into one ‘dynamic whole’. Perhaps a solution to this would be to
PCR up the fragment of interest, and then go into sequencing…it could all be done in a
stand alone system…perhaps this should be kept in mind!

Here goes…(in no particular order)

Biomek 2000

There is a dye terminator (DT) protocol fully functional for the Biomek, and now DNA
preps available too apparently you can perform plasmid isolation for $0.45 instead of
$3-$4. This platform is quite easy to use, but it should be noted that labware specs need
to be fairly exact – tips can be bent. Also, comes with a variety of ‘tools’ – although
the 2005L acts more like a 1255L tool when used with barrier tips. Also there were some
reports from users with respect that handling volumes below 55L does not fair well in some
peoples hands.

The Biomek set-up time is roughly 25 minutes for 192 sequencing reactions with single
primer from a master mix. Perhaps useful with shotguns but set up time for anything else
maybe too great (too many variables).

The Biomek is actually designed as a high throughput repetitive 96-well based screening
platform, so varying numbers of samples on a day to day basis may present a problem. The
machine itself is said to be reliable, and doesn’t miss wells too often.

The operating software is OK – being the usual, point-and-click type which makes operation
easier for first-timers!

Overall, a good, versatile platform, but some users point to it being perhaps too slow for
anything other that repetitive 96 well shotgun work.

ABI 877

There are two types of robot in circulation from the producers of the 373a and 377
(oh! and the 310…) – that Catalyst and the 877. The catalyst (which I believe no longer
available) was blessed with a not too great user interface which was very inflexible.
However reports allege that the 877 has much improved software, it now being an easy to
use user interface (again of the point and click variety), the overhaul resulting in a
more flexible platform than the Catalyst.

This platform has a high throughput capability, and seems to be primarily designed to be
used for high throughput genotyping projects that require each sample to be run with
multiple markers (either one at a time, or multiplex) and the software reflects this. In
general the software is liked by most people – being clear and easy to follow.

The 877 seems to have been the only machine anyone reported as being happy pipetting
volumes below 35L with…as the 877 seems to have been specifically designed to be used as
a small volume pipetter and, with ever increasing cost saving needed as well as better
enzymes and dye incorporation, smaller volumes may become more vogue than at present. It
should also be noted that there is no disposable tip option with this platform – just a
steel needle which, although ABI say no carry over is present, some people report worries
over. Also there is no multi-tip option unlike other platforms.

Other reported problems seem to be mainly based around leaks and suchlike – although a
fairly major problem with M13 forward primer reaction efficiency (and accompanying
artefact peak at 70-80 bases) that are unsolved at present, but are possibly due to cycler
block contamination. At the time of writing the solution to this is unknown.

Packard Muitiprobe 204DT

Not too much feedback on this particular machine, but what did get to me indicated
that it’s a good platform for DT set up ( you can use fixed tip or disposable) but can
only be used down to 35L with the small disposable tips, after this volumes are likely to
be ‘some’ rather than a specified amount). Liquid sensing helps when doing DNA preps, but
not so much for DT set ups. Possibly some stability problems, but is cheap.

Tecan Genesis

Again, not too much feedback for this platform either, again it is reported as being
good for reaction set up. As for the use of the Tecan it has a cumbersome9 user interface
and programming interface. Pipetting below 55L could pose problems unless the tip touching
function is used (then goes down to 25L). Set up time is about 1hr for 96 reactions. Very
reliable and very flexible, but perhaps it might be quicker to do some things by hand!

Qiagen Biorobot

The 9600 is an automated template prep machine from Qiagen. It brings with it the
reputation of the company that produces one of the most popular DNA prep kits. This robot
is basically an mechanisation of the manual prep method, which uses the Qiagen kits on top
of a vacuum manifold to speed things up.

The 9600 works in multiples of eight or in a 96 plate format. The biggest gripe about the
machine seemed to be that in the set-up of samples the software was a bit cumbersome, as
it isn’t of the ‘point and click’ variety (you have to write protocols) which means that
without extensive effort you can’t run samples with different primers with ease. However,
all this is supposed to change with an upgrade in the software (due soon), along with the
addition of a pump which will halve the current prep time of 96 samples. The 9600 does
require some hands-on time mid run – to change over the columns etc. etc.

The machine is also capable of setting up sequence reactions, and any other pipetting
reactions. This system is also due an upgrade, with a disposable tip option being


The Autogen robot gives fairly good results but are slow in comparison with newer
types of machine (and maybe more expensive too). Problems occur in their inflexibility
with regard to change in demand – protocol development is not easy as they are hard wired
into the system. NB This is a miniprep machine and does not set up PCR reactions.

Vistra Labstation

Again, this reply produced both positive and negative feedback. This platform is this
only fully integrated machine that will go from cell pellets to finished reaction without
coming off the robot at any point.

The Vistra uses a magnetic purification system (called FMP) to isolate the DNA (quick
point from someone in the survey – if this is such a good isolation method is anyone using
it manually??). The purified DNA is then added to a sequence reaction, which is completed
on the machine.

There are protocols available for both M13 and ds plasmid work, however the success of
them seems to be an issue with some reports of the ds template prep giving problems (one
site seems to do manual plasmid preps and use the labstation for it’s ss isolation, then
set up all reactions on the labstation, as the ds isolation gives them problems). Another
report says that it is quicker to perform DT reaction set-up by hand rather that use this
robot. On the other hand some people seemed happy with it, and use it for both ss and ds

bullet Name: Daniel MARC
bullet Email:
bullet Date: reposted from Usenet 3/23/97
bullet Subject: pipetting robots-best choice?
bullet Comments:

We are currently using an ABI377 for sequencing analysis and microsatellite-genotyping.
The demand is growing fast for both applications and we are considering the purchase of a
pipetting robot. Beside the cost of purchase, the criteria that I would consider are:

-cost of use (tubes, pipet tips…)


-built-in thermocycler

-rapidity and number of reactions

-precision and minimal volume

-any other useful criteria

I would welcome any comment from users with an experience with one of the pipetting robots
currently available.

Daniel MARC

INRA – Centre de Tours 37380

Nouzilly France

bullet Name: Jim Cook
bullet Email:
bullet Date: reposted from Usenet 3/16/97
bullet Subject: Re: Experience with CRS or Staubli robot arms?
bullet Comments:

What specific infomation are you looking for? The Staubli RX family is a group of 6 axis
arms with working envelopes from 1200 mm to 3400 mm across. There are industrial and
cleanroom (class 1 ) varients.

The Controller is based on the Adept MV series and can support many different types of
interfaces ( Serial, ether net, digital IO, analog IO and directly through the VME bus).

bullet Name: Srinivas Akella
bullet Email:
bullet Date: reposted from Usenet 3/16/97
bullet Subject: Experience with CRS or Staubli robot arms?
bullet Comments:

Looking for information on CRS and Staubli robots:

Has anyone had any experience with using robots from CRS Robotics, and in particular,
their 5-DOF A255 and 6-DOF A465 robot arms? How about Staubli’s RX line of robots?

– How easy is it to use and program these robots?

– How easy is it to interface to their controllers?

– How reliable and trouble-free are these robots?

– How easy is it to hook up a commercial force sensor (ATI or JR3) to these robots?

-Does a version of RCCL exist for these robots? In fact, is there a version of RCCL for
Adept robots?

Any info or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks,


ps: While I am at it, what are good alternatives to the Adept SCARA arms? Robots from
Seiko, Sony, Panasonic?

bullet Name: Douglas Gurevitch
bullet Email:
bullet Date: reposted from Usenet 3/7/97
bullet Comments:

Hi everyone, We have a lot of robots here, from a number of vendors. My background is in
Mechanical Engineering, M.S. in Controls and Robotics. The robots we currently use are:
Packard MultiProbe 104 and 204 (not disposable tip), Hamilton MicroLab 2200, PE ABD
Catalyst, PBA Flexys, Robbins Hydra 96 (not really a robot), Sagian MultiPette (96 channel
pipettor – 6 deck positions), Biomek 2000, CRS T265 (smaller A255 arm on a track).

The robots that get used the most are the Packards. They are easy to program and can be
customized with a good engineering group (see my abstract for my poster at LabAutomation
’97). They have been very reliable (note we do not use disposable tips so I don’t know
about that configuration). The Biomek 2000 is very good with procedures that need a
variety of tools, but has the major flaw that it can not ask the user for input during a
run, or dynamically reallocate the procedure for the number of samples (like the Hamilton,
Tecan or Packards can). If it is the same procedure every time, they are excellent.
Further, they have the best disposable tip handling and options. The Hamiltons are limited
in programming capability and were clearly designed for lower throughput than we use them
for. We have needed extensive preventative maintenance for them. Admittedly, they are
being used 10-12 hours solid every day. The Robbins has been a reliable work horse;
however, replacing plunger tips can be a pain. The PBA Flexys (a picking and gridding
robot) has been excellent for gridding and more of a problem for picking. I hear that a
new picking tool is now available and is more reliable. The MultiPette has a very easy to
deal with programming system. It is reliable down to 15l (with the P20 disposable tips)
and is already set up to handle 384 well plates. Once again it is not able to dyanmically
ask the user for volumes or plates, however the running files are all text. This allows a
good programmer to write a user interface that edits these files and then runs the system
via the Windows DDE links. I have extensive experience with industrial robot arms (notably
Panasonic and Accusembler with some GMFanuc experience). I find the CRS reliable, easy to
program (for an industrial arm!) and the company willing to respond to concerns of a
customer who will order only a few units. The software also allows for easy communication
with other Windows based systems via DDE links. Lastly, the Catalysts are also work
horses. They run off-the-shelf and all the time. The only warning is to clean the PCR
block twice a month and replace syringes once a week if you are running them all the time
(like we do).

Now for the systems we don’t own. We had an initial negative interlude with the Tecan
Genesis just after it was introduced 15 months ago. I have not tried them since so I don’t
know what they are like now. We do like the RSP/MiniPrep systems and are ordering CAVRO
syringe drivers for a number of custom applications. The Gilson does what is promises
(septum piercing, etc.) but was too slow for our needs. We have not tried the Q-bot,
CyberLab or PSS systems.

In terms of arms (a subject I know well) we find the ORCA a little under-powered and small
for some of our needs, but the easiest to use for labs with limited engineering personnel.
The Mitsubishi’s which are being advertised so heavily by Rixan are inexpensive, but are
kind of a step child product. Their payloads and accuracies are in between the ORCA and
the CRS arms. Note that they were developed for IN-HOUSE production in Japan because big
Japanese Karetsu (allied conglomerates) are in general not allowed to buy a competitors
equipment! Even the Rixan salesman said they were developed to produce industrial
electronics that Mitsubishi sells for $9million/month. Some of the Mitsubishi sales force
convinced corporate to sell them to others, but it is only a $9million/year business for a
$40billion/year company. Not a lot of support. Another choice in this category is the
Panasonic (Matsushita) PanaRobo KS-V20, which I have heard rumors is now controlled by an
Adept one controller. If the Adept controller is indeed being used, then the control side
is handled by an American automation company with a large installed base. For more
information on robotics for the lab, please contact the Association for Laboratory
Automation and subscribe for the Laboratory Automation News magazine at P.O. Box 572,
Charlottesville, VA, 22908. You can also fax or email the president Dr. Robin A. Felder at
(804) 924-5718 or The big
ALA meeting is LabAutomation, which for 1997 was held in San Diego last week!

Sincerely, Douglas Gurevitch


The opinions expressed here do not represent the opinions of SEQUANA THERAPEUTICS.

bullet Name: Martha C. Nold
bullet Email:
bullet Http:
bullet Date: reposted from Usenet 3/7/97
bullet Comments:

I am developing a class on using the Biomek with an emphasis on Bioscripts and using
Tcl commands. We will teach the class over a three-day period with slides, student
handouts and a resource guide on Tcl.

I am looking for insights and personal experiences that I can include in the class. Can
any of you tell me success stories, problem areas or unique uses that I could share with
the class? Tell me about your Biomek and what you use it for.

I am a technical writer for a computer consulting company in the New Orleans area.

Thank you for your help.

| Voice: +1 (504)-889-2784 * * Computerized Processes Unlimited, Inc. | FAX: +1
(504)-889-2799 * * 4200 S. I-10 Service Rd., Suite 205 |Metairie, LA 70001

bullet Name: Shannon Gleason, Ph.D., Bayer Corp.
bullet Email:
bullet Date: reposted from Usenet 3/7/97
bullet Comments:

I am exploring the options for ELISA automation. Key features for a system would be:

1. Flexibility: Ease of modifying or writing new assays, accomodation of various labware
(eg. tubes, plates)

2. Multiple plate capability: probably 5-10 plates/day for now, but the ability to expand
to higher plate capacity in the future

3. Cradle-to-grave assay performance: will perform complete assay (including plate
reading) unattended (or with minimal attention)

4. Reliability!

I would appreciate any feedback from folks who have experience with some of the systems
that are currently available. I am especially interested in hearing from anyone that has
tested the new "gripper tool" for the Biomek 2000. Thanks for your help. You may
respond here or email me directly.


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