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The Future of High Throughput Assays: From Reporter Genes to qPCR

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

The Future of High Throughput Assays:  From Reporter Genes to qPCR

Recorded 20 March 2013



In vitro high throughput screening in drug discovery has typically been accomplished using reporter gene assays, which offer a versatile, cost-effective, and technically simple way to screen in high throughput, and are amenable to miniaturization. However, these assays are unsuitable for screening primary cells and cannot assess impact on endogenous gene expression. Real-time (quantitative) PCR (qPCR) can overcome these drawbacks and has widespread and proven use in gene expression analysis at both low and medium throughput. Until now, the application of qPCR in high throughput screening (HTS) has been limited by an often laborious multistep process to generate suitable template, and high reagent cost due to large reaction volumes. Recent advances in streamlining the qPCR workflow, liquid handling, and instrumentation have enabled scientists to generate sensitive and cost-effective high throughput qPCR data in drug discovery processes.

During the webinar the expert panel will:

  • Describe the advances in technology that have enabled the application of qPCR in HTS
  • Discuss the pros and cons of qPCR vs. traditional reporter gene assays in HTS
  • Outline the necessary steps required for fully automated implementation of qPCR technology in HTS
  • Answer your questions live during the broadcast.

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Speaker bios

Andrea Weston, Ph.D.

Bristol-Myers Squibb
Wallingford, CT

Dr. Weston joined Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2007 and is currently a senior research investigator within the Lead Discovery Group in Wallingford, Connecticut. She received her Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Western Ontario, focusing on transcriptional regulatory networks in cell differentiation, and completed postdoctoral training at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington and within the Investigative Toxicology Group at Pfizer in Groton, Connecticut. Her main areas of expertise are in transcription, epigenetics, development biology, and high throughput screening. Dr. Weston now leads a team of researchers in the design and implementation of high throughput, cell-based assays including high-content screening.

Patrick Faloon, Ph.D.

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Cambridge, MA

Dr. Faloon received his Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. During his postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Faloon studied at Massachusetts General Hospital in the laboratory of Mark Fishman, and continued his fellowship with Fishman at Novartis. Dr. Faloon joined the Broad Institute in 2009. Today, he is a member of the institute’s Chemical Biology Program, oversees the high throughput screening automation group, and, along with his colleagues, executes projects to find small-molecule probes—chemical compounds, many of which have been created by Broad researchers—with specific and potent activity against a biological pathway or disease mechanism. Such projects involve developing and optimizing assays for automation, screening a large compound library, and characterizing each small-molecule probe. Dr. Faloon works with colleagues from within the Broad Institute as well as external collaborators and also leads a small projects team that specializes in many different molecular techniques.

Daniel G. Sipes

Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation
San Diego, CA


Mr. Sipes is currently the director of Advanced Automation Technologies at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) in San Diego, California. He holds a B.S. in molecular biology from California State University, Sacramento and a M.S. in immunology from the University of California, Davis. Before pursuing his Master’s, Mr. Sipes worked in the Hybridoma Laboratory at Genentech, Inc. developing both tool and therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. After his studies at UC Davis, he worked in the Transcription Research and Automated Screening Laboratories at Ligand Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, California. It was here that Mr. Sipes developed numerous automated cell-based assays as well as procured and implemented new robotic systems. In late 1999, he joined GNF and assisted in developing and operating GNF’s flagship miniaturized cell-based ultrahigh throughput screening (uHTS) system. In 2002, he joined Kalypsys, Inc., a GNF spin-off company, where he was responsible for the implementation and operation of the uHTS system and compound management operations. In 2005, Mr Sipes returned to GNF and is now working with a team of scientists and engineers to develop and operate next generation automation for high throughput screening and cell-based profiling. Mr. Sipes has also been involved with various educational programs and industry/non-profit organizations, most recently serving as vice president on the Board of Directors for the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS).

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently, Dr. Sanders is the Director and Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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