Customer Spotlight

Expanding Research Power and Flexibility within Australia’s Biomedical Research Community

The Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics (VCFG)


The Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics (VCFG) supports and propels research efforts across Australia. Located at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Victoria, this core facility’s ”researcher driven, staff assisted” ethos is carried through all services, from conception and grant writing to multi-platform, high-throughput screening and analysis. In addition to having a strong collaborative effort, the wide diversity of researcher goals means that the facility must remain at the leading edge of innovations in science and technology.

To illustrate their broad capabilities, VCFG facilitates functional interrogation of all genes within the genome, or boutique collections using CRISPR/Cas9, small interfering RNA (siRNA), micro RNA (miRNA), long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) and short hairpin RNA (shRNA) approaches. Additionally, they enable large and small scale drug screens using commercially available compounds as well as those generated by a researcher. “Our goal is to enable any assay that a researcher could need,” explains Associate Professor Kaylene Simpson, Head of the VCFG. “By doing so, we can steer them towards solutions that best facilitate their research and also prevent them from needlessly reinventing the wheel, so to speak.”

VCFG places significant emphasis on quantitative high content imaging in 2D and 3D cell models; using multi-parameter staining and sophisticated unbiased phenotyping strategies to cluster targets that determine similar cell features. BioTek’s Cytation™ 5 Cell Imaging Multi-Mode Reader is prominently used in VCFG’s daily operations. VCFG recently built a 3D platform around daily imaging using Cytation 5 in brightfield mode, and coupled with fluorescent imaging at the end of the experiment, the analysis pipeline quantifies 3D structure size, viability and morphology over time. This data is to provide enormous insights into target compound activity that are more insightful than traditional methods measuring luminescent cell death.

Cytation 5 was preceded at VCFG by the Cytation 3 Cell Imaging Multi-Mode Reader, which is still in use as a whole institute plate reader and facilitates operational redundancy in the lab for basic plate reader applications. Both instruments are powered by Gen5™ Software with an intuitive interface, so users found the transition between instruments to be seamless and hassle-free. The lab is equipped with other BioTek instruments, including several EL406™ Washer Dispensers, a MultiFlo™ FX Multi-Mode Dispenser and a BioStack™ Microplate Stacker that is coupled with the Cytation 5.

Assoc Prof Simpson notes that the versatile Cytation 5 is increasingly indispensable at VCFG every day. In addition to its utility with the facility’s 3D platform, Cytation 5 is also in high demand for AlphaScreen® and kinetic reporter assays used in large scale, long-term discovery screens, FRET-based assays, zebrafish and other thick 3D specimen imaging and many other image- and detection-based applications. To facilitate time-lapse cellular imaging, she is looking to obtain a second Cytation 5, coupled with BioTek’s BioSpa™ 8 Automated Incubator as an automated live cell imaging system. Assoc Prof Simpson summarizes her experience by remarking, “Cytation 5 is a key champion to help VCFG and our research clients to push new boundaries and make great discoveries.”


Kaylene Simpson, Head of the Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics.
Kaylene Simpson, Head of the Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics

Researchers Robert Vary (left) and Jennii Luu (right) reviewing Cytation 5 generated data at the VCFG facility.
Researchers Robert Vary (left) and Jennii Luu (right) reviewing Cytation 5 generated data at the VCFG facility.



To learn more about The Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics (VCFG) , visit their web site.

Thanks to Kaylene Simpson at VCFG for sharing her BioTek experience.


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