The High Throughput Screening Facility Housed in the UI College of Pharmacy allows university researchers to develop tools that massively scale up and speed up their experiments.

The equipment uses a combination of miniaturization, robotics, and data management software to accomplish many thousands of individual experiments in rapid, parallel fashion, generating large data sets. (In a single day, high throughput robotics on the UI campus can perform up to 50,000 experiments!) It helps them identify clinically-significant drug discovery targets, and probes for biological functions of novel targets.

This tells researchers what compounds work and why they work.

For biomolecular researchers, this type of screening is an increasingly important tool.

“We use high throughput screening to obtain lead compounds to probe the biology of protein targets that we investigate. Some of these leads have the potential to validate a target as something one wants to modulate in disease. In addition, this is increasingly how one identifies drug-like molecules for further development.”
-Charles Brenner
Former Professor and Head of the Department of Biochemistry,
Carver College of Medicine

The current robotic platform was funded by a 2011 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, after substantial interest and investment from investigators campus-wide. The group financially supported an initial, quick purchase of a less extensive robotic system that served their immediate needs.

The facility serves as a hub to promote collaboration from across disciplines at the university and beyond.

Its scalable screening approaches:

  • Foster hit and lead generation for drug discovery and development through screening of large chemical/biologics libraries; and
  • Facilitate molecular probe discovery for mechanism of action (MOA) studies of chemical biology, through screening of focused intellectually-designed compound collections.

The high throughput platform integrates robotics, detection systems and chemical/biologics libraries. It provides highly flexible screening services, project management, grant assistance and assay/technology development for investigators.

In addition, the facility is a primary source and portal to bridge researchers' high throughput biology and potential translational medical research, by nurturing the collaboration with medicinal chemistry, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and clinical trials.

The facility offers the following services:

1) Assay adaption/development: from bench assay/idea to high throughput screening ready assay, including assay design/development, assay adaption and validation

2) High Throughput Screening: ​from scalable screen, pilot screen, primary screen, to secondary screen

3) Compound Collections: from copies of the libraries, cherry-picking collections, to dose-response compound plates

4) Data analysis: using specific software for data analysis of high throughput screening and image analysis of high content imaging.

5) Grant assistance: from letter of support, description of the instruments and compound collections, to consultation on common HTS preliminary result requirements.

6) Follow-up services: connection and consultation with experts on medicinal chemistry (hit-to-lead, lead optimization, drug development), PK/PD, pre- and clinical trials, and potential translational studies.

7) Project management support: from electronic notebook, project management, to data management

Contact Us

Address: S332/S336 PHAR (Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Building), 115 South Grand Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52242

For more information, please contact Dave Roman,, Associate Dean for Research.