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Biological Services Laboratory


The Biological Services Laboratory is a core facility supporting comprehensive services customized to meet the specific needs of chemistry research.
This facility is available for students and researchers within the department, as well as for other academic and industrial institutions.


Notice to Researchers


Prior to work, all users have to complete instrument-specific, chemical safety and biosafety training — no exceptions. Please call or e-mail to arrange a time with us for training.

Consultations, usage of the laboratory space/benches, equipment and technician help is available on a "first come/first serve" basis or by reservation of equipment in advance.

Lab users are responsible for removing their work materials from workstations as tasks are completed:

  • Biosafety cabinets must be decontaminated and free of work materials;
  • Bench surfaces must be left clear of glassware, garbage and spills;
  • Scales and pH meter must be clean and in proper working condition;
  • Waste must be decontaminated and disposed of



Dr. Elena Polishchuk, Laboratory Director


Biological Services Laboratory
Department of Chemistry
University of British Columbia
2036 Main Mall, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z1
attn: Elena Polishchuk
Tel: (604) 822-4768 or (604) 822-2053
Fax: (604) 822-2847

LOCATION: Our Laboratories are located at (*for in-person sample submission only - no mail accepted here): 6221 University Blvd Chemistry/Physics Research Bldg, Rooms A410-A428 (even numbers)


Biological Safety Cabinets

The BioChemGARD is a Class II, Type B2 Biological Safety Cabinet that was engineered specifically for laboratories that need containment and removal of vapors, mists and particulates.

We use it for cell-based assays of compounds with unknown cytotoxic and antibiotoc activities.

Nuare Class II Type A/B3 biosafety cabinets (2)

Labconco Class II Delta Series biosafety cabinet in room A418 is designated for work with mammalian cell cultures.

Biological Safety Cabinets

Real Time PCR

iCycler iQ™ Multi-Color Real Time PCR Detection System (BIO-RAD)

iCycler iQ™ Real-Time Detection System with iQ™ 5 Optical System Software provides amplification and real-time detection of PCR products by including in the reaction a wide range of fluorescent chemistry, such as DNA-binding dyes and fluorescently labeled sequence-specific primers and probes. Real-time analysis of PCR enables truly quantitative analysis of template concentration. The 350,000 pixel array on the CCD detector allows for simultaneous image collection of all 96 wells every second.

This instrument is also able to conduct a multiplex PCR (simultaneously quantitate two or more genes).

The second instrument in this group is MiniOpticon real-time PCR detection system with CFX ManagerTM software (Bio-Rad). The MiniOpticon system uses two channels for fluorescence detection: the first one will detect dyes in emission spectra in the 523-543 nm range, such as SYBR Green I and FAM, the second is optimized for dyes with emission spectra of 540-700 nm.

The T100TM Thermal cycler (Bio-Rad) is available for conventional PCR. The instrument has a 96-well block and can run sample volumes of 1-100µl.

Real Time PCR

BIOMEK® FX (Beckman Coulter, Inc.)

Laboratory Automation System with Cytomat and DTX880 Plate Reader

The system is installed in a Class II Biosafety Enclosure.

The Biomek FX provides following applications:

primary and secondary high-throughput screening of compound libraries
hit picking
molecular biology:

nucleic acid preparation 
plasmid purification
high-throughput DNA template preparation prior to automated sequencing from column separations
PCR reaction set-up

cell-based assays
96- and 385-well plate replication, incubation, plate washing, serial dilution
The DTX880 multimode detector is capable of performing absorbance, luminescence, and fluorescence intensity measurements on samples in 6-384 plates;
The Cytomat automated storage system for cell and tissue cultures is integrated in this robotic station and with device-integral Plate Shuffle System allows the automated, selective access to the plates.
Elx405 magnetic Bead Microplate Washer is also integrated in the Biomek FX automated system.

BIOMEK® FX (Beckman Coulter, Inc.)

Freeze Dryers

Pilot-size VirTis Vitual 50 L Freeze Dryer. The system has 10 shelves with inlet temperature range from -70o C to + 65oC and hydraulic ram for stoppering vials under vacuum. It has a high capacity 50 L coil condenser.  User will be able to back fill the vials with inert gas prior to stoppering.


solvent removal;

preservation of bacteria or other biologicals;

stabilization of bulk chemicals;

protein preservation.











Flexi-DryTM MP Manifold freeze dryer.

Performance:  3 litres per 24 hrs at maximum low condenser temperature –85ºC. This freeze dryer has a corrosion resistant titanium condensor and a 16 port manifold.

Freeze Dryers


Sorvall Lynx 6000 superspeed refrigerated centrifuge with a library of biocontaintment rotors:

  • 6 x 100 ml,  max speed 23,500 rpm  (62,976 x g)
  • 4 x 1000 ml, max speed 10,500 rpm  (20584 x g)
  • 8 x 50 ml, max speed  20,000rpm  (47,850 x g)
  • 6 x 250 ml,  max speed 14,000 rpm  (30,240 x g)
  • 14 x 50 ml, max speed 14,000 rpm (33,746 x g)
  • 12 x 50 ml,  max speed  20,000 rpm   (51,428 x g)

There are 2 Sorvall RC-5B Plus  Superspeed refrigerated centrifuges.

Maximum speed ( with SA-300 rotor) is 25,000 rpm (~70,000 x g). Temperature range: from 0°C to 40°C in  1°C increments.

SLA-1500 SUPER-LITE Aluminum Rotor (6-Place, 250 ml, maximum speed 15,000 rpm)
SLC-4000 SUPER-LITE Composite Rotor (4-Place, 1000ml) maximum speed 9,000 rpm.
SA-300 Aluminum Rotor (6-Place, 50 ml).

A wide range of adapters and reduction sleeves for all common tube types.
AccuSpin TM Micro tabletop microcentrifuge for samples up to 2 ml. Maximum speed 16,000 rpm.
IEC HN-SII tabletop centrifuge for microplates.
DYNAC - everyone's favorite. We like to use it for cell suspensions and for flammable samples. Maximum speed 1790 rpm.
Eppendorf 5810R refrigerated centrifuge with the following  rotors:

swing-bucket rotor S-4-104 with max. speed 3,214 x g (3900 rpm), capable of spinning a load of 4x750 mL bottles;
fixed-angle rotor with 48 steel sleeves for 15 mL tubes, max. speed 5,050 x g (5,500 rpm);
Rotor for safe centrifugation of hazardous samples, 6x50 m:, max. speed 20,130 x g (12,100 rpm), made from anodized aluminum for high chemical resistance

The Thermo Espresso centrifuge compatible with 0.2 mL to 2 mL microtubes, max. speed 14,500 x g (14,600 rpm)
Fisher Mini Centrifuge, 1.5/2.0 mL microtubes, max. speed 2,000 x g (6,600 rpm)


INNOVA-44 and -44R

Two floor model temperature-controlled non-refrigerated shakers
One floor model temperature-controlled refrigerated shaker

All of the above have digital operating systems and combination platform and flask clamps for 50ml, 150ml, 250ml, 500ml, 1L, 2L, 4L , as well as test tube rack holders.

Speed: from 25 to 400 rpm
Temperature range and accuracy: 20°C below ambient to 80° C; +/-0.1°C
Orbit diameter: 1” or 2”
Load capacity: 30 kg

Cary 100 UV/Vis spectrophotometer

Cary 100 UV/Vis spectrophotometer has a working range past 3.5 absorbance units that eliminates sample dilution; variable slit widths for optimum control over spectral resolution; phase-locked wavelength drive that prevents peak shifts and peak suppression at high scan speeds.

Microplate Reader Multi-Mode FilterMax F5

  • Absorbance detection in the visible range (230 nm to 650 nm) and UV
  • Fluorescence Intensity top read & bottom read
  • Luminescence
  • Fluorescence Polarization
  • Time-Resolved Fluorescence (TRF)
  • Scan measurement types: endpoint, kinetic, multiple wavelength, linear scan and area scan
  • Linear and Orbital shaking
  • Temperature Control
Microplate Reader  Multi-Mode FilterMax F5

SpectraMax QuickDrop UV-VIS Spectrophotometer (190-1100nm)

For micro-volume absorbance measurement of DNA, RNA, oligos, and proteins. The built-in sample port allows to work with volumes as small as 0.5 µL, preserving precious samples, while the cuvette port lets you expand your work to include larger volume samples. The instrument is suitable for applications in life sciences, clinical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food and drink, agricultural, industrial, environmental, toxicology, water treatment.

Inverted Fluorescence Microscope

Olympus IX70 Inverted Fluorescence Microscope has a Olympus DP80 dual CCD 12.7 megapixel colour camera and 1.4 megapixel cooled monochrome camera. This multi-function camera with dual chips is optimal for imaging of brightfield and fluorescent samples. Olympus CellSens Dimensions software is available for imaging processing. The unit is fitted with phase-contrast optics and a turret that simultaneously holds up to 4 filter cubes for quick changeover to different excitation/emission wavelengths. The microscope accommodates a condenser with an ultralong working distance to enable observing the contents of large tissue culture vessels.

Inverted Fluorescence Microscope

The Countess® II FL Automated Cell Counter

The Countess® II FL Automated Cell Counter

is a cell counting instrument equipped with optics  and image analysis software for rapid assessment of cells in suspension. It has brightfield and two optional fluorescence channels to count cells, monitor fluorescent protein expression, and measure cell viability.

Water Purification

Milli-Q Synthesis Water Purification System from Millipore supplies nano quality ultra-pure water for molecular biology techniques, such as PCR, 2-D electrophoresis and also for defined cell culture media. Pyrogard 5000 cartridge removes nucleases, producing RNAse-free water without the need for DEPC treatment.

Resistivity:  18.2 at 25ºC;
TOC (Total Organic Carbon) :  1-5 ppb;
Pyrogen level (Eu/mL): less than 0.001;
Bacteria (cfu/mL): less than 1;
Particulates >0.22µm (P/ml):  <1;
Flow Rate (L/min): 1.0

Cryogenic System

We use MVE 4000 cryogenic system for preservation of microorganisms and cell cultures in liquid nitrogen vapor.

Cryogenic System

Other Equipment

  • Steris and Yamato Autoclaves
  • BioRad GelDoc camera and image processing software for agarose and polyacrylamide gels
  • homogenizer
  • mini-shaker
  • Olympus microscope
  • water bath
  • peristaltic pump
  • gel electrophoresis chambers
  • MiniCycler for PCR
  • CO2 incubator
  • dry bath
  • gel dryer


  • Custom assay design & protocol development

  • Development of primary cell cultures

  • Mammalian, insect, plant, fungi & bacteria cell cultures

  • Cell-based assays

  • Quantification of gene expression by RT PCR in prokaryotic/ eukaryotic cells

  • Quantification of gene copies in environmental samples by rt-PCR

  • Multiplexing

  • DNA/RNA quantification by Pico Green/Ribo Green assay

  • High-throughput screening

  • Identification of bacteria and fungi by 16S, 18S, 25S rDNA analysis

  • Preparation of amplifiable DNA from samples contaminated with heavy metals

  • Immunocytochemistry


  • Gene cloning

  • Enzymatic assays

  • Electrophoresis

  • Antibiotic assays

    • Minimum Inhinitory Concetration (MIC)

    • Disk Diffusion Method

    • Dilution Method

    • Quantitative antimicrobial test for textiles and solid materials.

  • Microscopy & image analysis

  • Cryopreservation and cell banking services

  • Custom lyophilization (freeze drying) services of small and bulk samples