Advanced Cell Exploration (ACE) Core

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
What the facility does

Offers the advanced equipment and expertise required to manage and automate large-scale experiments in areas such as drug discovery and single cell analysis.

Areas of expertise

The Advanced Cell Exploration (ACE) Core houses state-of-the-art equipment that facilitates large-scale experiments. ACE Core houses leading edge equipment to facilitate a variety of techniques that fall into the following technology nodes: 1) nucleic acid and sequencing technologies; 2) single-cell profiling; 3) genetic and chemical screening libraries; and 4) auxiliary platforms. Currently, our two key areas of expertise are single-cell sequencing and screening services.

Single Cell RNA (scRNA) sequencing: The ACE Core can perform sampling of up to 10,000 cells in parallel for scRNA sequencing projects and has all the equipment necessary for downstream preparation, quantification, and quality control assessment of prepared libraries. In addition, our core has the high-performance computer capacity and expertise required for bioinformatic analysis of large raw data sets generated from scRNA sequencing, converting them into data sets suitable for visualization and analysis.

Screening services: The core provides technical support in the planning, execution, and analysis of siRNA and compound screens. The facilities include automated liquid handling systems that enable precise and fast handling of a large number of samples. Several siRNA and compound libraries are available free to use in-house and the facility has the infrastructure to aid such large screening experiments. Two fully operational tissue culture rooms are able to handle biosafety level 2 experiments. An automated imaging system and automated fluorescence and luminometer plate readers are available for output readings.

Research services
  • Core staff-performed single-cell sequencing, library preparation and data analysis
  • Core staff-assisted library screening services
  • Guidance and assistance to plan, set up, and troubleshoot single-cell sequencing and screening projects
  • Selection and curation of custom-built compound and siRNA libraries assistance
  • Hands-on training for data acquisition equipment (e.g. plate readers and automated image acquisition)
  • Genome-wide human and mouse shRNAs available
  • Consistent instrumentation maintenance and quality control
  • Core-organized seminars and vendor presentations
Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment



10x Genomics Chromium 10X

Partitions single cells into an emulsion allowing for the sequencing of thousands of individual cells in parallel

PerkinElmer JANUS Expanded Deck Automated Liquid Handling System

The expanded deck JANUS workstation is a dual-arm robotic liquid handling system, which can handle 96 and 384 samples in parallel, and is adaptable for dispensing into microplates with up to 1536 wells. This equipment is entirely housed in a Class 1 Biosafety cabinet."

PerkinElmer JANUS Standard Deck Automated Liquid Handling System

The JANUS workstation is a robotic liquid handling system, which can handle 96 and 384 samples in parallel. This equipment is housed in a class 2 biosafety cabinet. This system gives us the capability of conducting experiments involving BSL2 cell culture.

PerkinElmer EnVision Multilabel Plate Reader

High-speed detector of fluorescence intensity, fluorescence polarization, time-resolved fluorescence, luminescence, and absorbance. This reader accepts microplates with 1 to 3,456 wells on a 50-plate stack magazine with a barcode reader for high throughput application.

LI-COR Biosciences LI-COR Infrared Scanner

Two-color infrared scanner that scans membranes or fixed cells in cell culture plates

Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer

Microfluidics based electrophoresis instrument designed to size, quantify and quality control DNA, RNA and protein. Quantification can either be calculated by using a single peak (such as a PCR product) or a size region (such as a DNA library).


12-channel capillary electrophoresis system that performs fully automated, high resolution separation of DNA fragments in the 15 bp to 10 kbp range for determination of the size and concentration of DNA fragments.

Illumina MiSeq System

Next generation sequencing platform capable of automated cluster amplification, sequencing by synthesis and primary sequencing analysis.

Bio-Rad CFX96 Touch Real-Time PCR System

Six-channel (five colors and one FRET channel) real-time PCR instrument.

Lonza 4D-Nucleofector System

Enables highly efficient, transfection of primary cells, stem cells, neurons, and cell lines that have traditionally been difficult to transfect via electroporation and other non-viral transfection methods.

BioTek 405 TS Washer

Designed to efficiently wash cell-based assays, microsphere-based assays, and ELISA applications.

Agilent Seahorse XFe96 Metabolic Analyzer

Measures the oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) which are key indicators of mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis in live cells. Together these measurements provide a systems-level view of cellular metabolic function in cultured cells and ex vivo samples.

Vizgen MERSCOPE® Platform

Allows for the direct detection of up to 500 gene transcript targets in a single tissue slice with 100nm optical resolution allowing for subcellular localization of detected transcripts. 



Cover of Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 220, Issue 8, 15 October 2019. Image acquired at the ACE Core.