The Biofactorial High-Throughput Biology Facility is located in the Life Sciences Institute situated on the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus.

What we do.

Many of biology’s unanswered questions require the use of large multifactorial experiments that are only solvable using some type of automation system, or require extreme miniaturization due to the exorbitant costs of essential reagents. The High Throughput Biology Facility, Biofactorial, addresses several of the current gaps in automation infrastructure within academia and small to mid-size enterprises (SME’s) and is meant to provide researchers inside and outside UBC with access to automation to enable greater scientific insight at new economies of scale. Biofactorial is a member of the Global Biofoundries Alliance (GBA) and promotes adoption of common standards and open science initiatives.  If you’re interested in using the facility or want to know more about automation systems, let us know! Contact us


Biofactorial has access to a unique collection of metagenomic and chemical compound libraries. These resources are available for use by clients to develop useful screening paradigms and to identify novel biocatalysts or hit compounds for drug discovery.

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Biofactorial is associated with the Hallam lab and has access to state-of-the-art pipelines supporting data processing and  analytics.


Biofactorial has numerous capabilities including liquid handlers, plate readers, and sequencers.


  • KingFisher automated magnetic-particle processing system (96/24 well format)
  • QuantStudio6 Pro 96/384 well qPCR machine

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Services & Costs

We operate on a cost recovery model, offering full services and assisted services for access to automation.  As projects vary in requirements and needs, please contact us to develop a work plan that suits your needs and resources.

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Our Capabilities.

We help researchers achieve their full potential using automation systems. Biofactorial’s core infrastructure is represented in the LabCyte Access Workstation, featuring an Echo acoustic dispenser, Pherastar plate reader, Cytomat incubator (CO2 and O2 controls) and other capabilities. In addition, we operate an Aglient Bravo and high content readers used for research and development purposes. We also have many other liquid handlers and dispensers which can be used for mammalian cell culture, PCR and sequencing library preparation, and other applications. We are always keen to demonstrate these capabilities through on-site visits. Contact us.

Access workstation

Transfers nanolitre volumes with high precision using the Echo Acoustic Liquid Handler and is capable of replicating entire workflows.

Agilent Bravo

The Bravo is a liquid handler used for DNA and RNA processing for NGS and Single-Cell RNA-Seq applications.

Illumina MiSeq

The Illumina MiSeq is typically used for amplicon sequencing but can also be used for low coverage shotgun sequencing applications.

List of Equipment

Liquid Handlers:

  • Echo Acoustic Handler
  • CombiNL
  • Matrix Hydra
  • Biomek3000 
  • Biotek MultiFlo
  • Biotek 406
  • Biomek Fx
  • Aglient Bravo
  • Matrix PlateMate Plus (pins and tip based)
  • Matrix WellMate for mammalian cell plating


  • Pherastar plate reader
  • VarioSkan plate reader
  • Cellomics VTi and CX5 High Content Readers
  • QuantStudio6 Pro 96/384 well qPCR machine


  • QPix Colony Picker
  • Biotek Plate Washer
  • Illumina MiSeq
  • OnChip Droplet/Cell Sorter
  • KingFisher automated magnetic-particle processing system (96/24 well formats)

Metagenomic Fosmid DNA Libraries.

We maintain an archive of over 125 large insert fosmid libraries encompassing over 200,000 unique clones sourced from diverse natural and engineered environments. With an average insert size of over 40,000 base pairs these libraries collectively encode over 8 million predicted open reading frames that can be screened for the production of biocatalysts, biosensors, and unique molecules.

Fosmid library sources include:

Engineered Environments
Short chain alkane degrading



Oilsands tailings pond

Coal bed cuttings and produced waters

Pulp and paper mill hog fuel pile

Natural Environments
Line P – Pacific Ocean

Saanich Inlet

Sakinaw Lake

Lakelse hot spring

Williams Lake soil horizons

Organismal Environments



In addition to archived libraries, we are able to construct custom libraries using facility infrastructure. Contact us.

Compound Screening Libraries.

Compound screening is at the heart of many probe and drug discovery projects. Biofactorial enables investigators to access small volumes of compounds (100 nL) for screening projects performed at the facility, and can support activities from assay design, screening, secondary assay screening, through to preliminary SAR.

Small molecule libraries include:
Bio - actives
Compounds with identified biological activity:
  • Prestwick Off-patent drugs (1200 compounds)
  • Sigma LOPAC (1200 compounds)
  • Microsource and Biomol selected bioactives (1500 compounds)
  • Selleckchem FDA approved and passed Phase 1 Drug Library (3372 compounds)
Screening collections
  • CCBN library (collection of 26,000 diverse compounds from Maybridge and Chembridge)
  • Chembridge DiverSet library (50,000 compounds)
  • Enamine and Chembridge collection (64,000 compounds)

(Overlap between libraries is <1%)

We continue to update our library collections and encourage potential users to contact us to learn more.

Potential Uses.

Biofactorial was designed to support most common molecular and cellular biology protocols. We are able to perform both mammalian and bacterial cell culture experiments for compound and metagenomic screening. In addition, the facility is able to generate sequencing libraries at low cost and sequence on site. Using our Bravo platform, we are able to process samples for plurality or single-cell sequencing applications. The facility also has both plate readers and high content readers for long term cell imaging experiments. Let us know if you would like to automate your workflow or would like to explore possibilities for a unique high-throughput capability. Contact us.

Contact Us.

Biofactorial is available for scheduling, please get in contact with us. Tom Pfeifer is the automation manager and can be reached by email at

Mailing Address: 


Tom Pfeifer

Biofactorial High-Throughput Biology Facility

Rm. 2505, 2350 Health Sciences Mall

Vancouver, BC.

Canada V6T 1Z3

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 Please contact us by email.