2014 Archived Content

HCA 2014 at a Glance  

Cambridge Healthtech Institute's Eleventh Annual High-Content Analysis 2014 (HCA) was held February 19-20, 2014 at the Marriott San Diego La Jolla, in La Jolla, California.

More than 290 people across Pharma, Biotechnology and Academia came together in La Jolla to discuss applications and technologies in the field of High-Content Analysis (HCA) and Screening. The event featured User group meetings, a science-rich program and Dinner short courses. HCA continues to deliver the answers as well as the attendance. This year featured participants from 24 different countries, representing 148 different organizations with more than 25% of the attendance from pharmaceutical companies. The event also featured a good networking blend of scientists (60%) and executives (20%). More than 40% of the participants were decision makers.

We hope you make plans to join us in 2015 at our new location, the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa* San Diego, CA.

2014 Program Coverage:  

  • HCA of 3-D Cellular Models
  • Phenotypic Screening
  • High-Throughput, High-Content Screening
  • HCA for Compound Characterization and Functional Analysis
  • In vitro Models of Tumor Microenvironment
  • 3-D Cell Culture for Drug Discovery
  • High-Content Analysis of Live Cells and Tissues
  • Stem Cell-Derived Cellular Models
  • More Predictive Cellular Co-Culture Models


  • Introduction to High-Content Phenotypic Screening - (February 18)  
  • Dinner Expert ThinkTank: How to Meet the Need for Physiologically-Relevant Assays? - (February 18)  
  • High-Content Analysis for 3-Dimensional Cellular Models - (February 19)  


  • GE Healthcare (February 18)  
  • Molecular Devices User (February 18)  
  • PerkinElmer (February 18)  

High-Content Analysis - Day 1

Wednesday, February 19 

Day 1 | Day 2 | Download Brochure 

7:30 am Conference Registration and Morning Coffee

8:15-8:20 Welcoming Remarks from Conference Director

Julia Boguslavsky, Executive Director, Conferences, Cambridge Healthtech Institute


High-Content Phenotypic Screening in Physiologically-Relevant 3-Dimensional Cellular Models  

8:20-8:25 Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

D. Lansing Taylor, Ph.D., Director, University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute & Allegheny Foundation Professor, Computational and Systems Biology, University of Pittsburgh

8:25-8:50 Quantitative Systems Pharmacology in Drug Discovery and Development

D. Lansing Taylor, Ph.D., Director, University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute & Allegheny Foundation Professor, Computational and Systems Biology, University of Pittsburgh

We are implementing quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP) as a novel approach to drug discovery and development. Phenotypic discovery/development using high-content analysis (HCA) is a central platform in a variety of disease areas and early safety assessment. For example, we are implementing QSP for understanding the heterogeneity of response within tumors and in cell-based assays and have created a heterogeneity index (HI) to guide the decisions during cell profiling and screening. In addition, QSP is being applied to the development and implementation of a 3-D, human biomimetic liver acinus model to be used as an early safety assessment platform to optimize the development of lead compounds.

8:50-9:15 Modeling Invasion: Monitoring Cell/Tissue Interactions with 3-D Cell Co-Cultures

Carsten Wenzel, Scientist, Global Drug Discovery, Bayer Pharma AG

Uncontrolled invasion and migration processes are not limited to cancer but also to other diseases (e.g. endometriosis, lung fibrosis). Most in vivo or in vitro assays to model cell-tissue interactions for these indications are not designed for higher throughput, are labor intensive and often expensive. We developed a 3-D cell co-culture-based assay which allows monitoring of invasive cells and migration processes in a high-throughput capable environment with automated dispensing of cells/compounds and integration in an automated microscopy system for high-content screening.

9:15-10:00 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

10:00-10:25 3-D Brain Tissue-Based HCA Screening Platforms for CNS Drug Discovery

Donald C. Lo, Ph.D., Director and Associate Professor, Center for Drug Discovery and Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center


10:25-10:50 Talk Title to be Announced

Anthony M. Davies, Ph.D., Director, Irish National Center for High-Content Screening and Analysis (INCHSA)

10:50-11:15 3-D Multicellular Tumor Spheroid Model Systems for Image-Based Drug Discovery Targeting Cancer Stem Cells in Luminal Breast Cancer

Daniel V. LaBarbera, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado

The multicellular tumor spheroid (MCTS) model has been used for decades with proven superiority over monolayer cell culture models, yet its use in high-content screening (HCS) drug discovery has been limited. Here we report a significant advance using a validated luminal breast cancer stem cell (CSC) biomarker, cytokeratin 5 promoter (CK5Pro) green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter. We developed an algorithm to quantify changes in CK5Pro-GFP expression locally (Z-stack-planes) or globally (maximal-projections) of MCTS. We demonstrate that acquiring data in this manner is statistically robust (Z’=0.85) for use in primary HCS drug discovery.


Luncheon New Technology Showcase 

GE Healthcare logo small
11:30-12:00 Cytell™ Cell Imaging System - A Simplified Solution for Automated Cell Imaging and Analysis

Robert Graves, Ph.D., Lead Scientist, Cell Analysis, GE Healthcare

The Cytell Cell Imaging System combines the functionalities of a digital microscope, an image cytometer, and a cell counter in a single bench-top instrument. Using an icon-driven, touch screen-enabled interface, Cytell functions are driven using a set of easy-to-use BioApps which require no imaging experience or image analysis expertise. Each BioApp module covers all steps of a specific biological application or assay, from imaging through analysis, data visualization, and report generation. The BioApps can simplify routine cell lab tasks while providing high-quality scientific data. 


Thermo Scientific small logo12:00-12:30 New Assays and Assay Models Enabled by Thermo Scientific HCS Studio and Thermo Scientific HCS Platforms 

Richik Ghosh, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Thermo Scientific Cellular Imaging and Analysis Products

We will briefly cover new out of the box assay capabilities which are enabled by software and instrument flexibility on the Thermo Scientific High Content Analysis Platforms. 



Phenotypic Screening Strategies 

12:45-12:50 Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

Jon Tupy, Ph.D., Head, Professional Services Screener Business Unit, USA Genedata

12:50-1:15 The Value of Phenotypic Assays to Drug Discovery

David C. Swinney, Ph.D., CEO, Institute for Rare and Neglected Diseases Drug Discovery (iRND3)

The goal of drug discovery is to identify medicines that can benefit patients at safe doses. An underappreciated feature of phenotypic screening when used to identify an optimal molecular mechanism of action (MMOA) is the potential to provide better intrinsic safety margins, either directly via the MMOA and/or indirectly as a feature of empirical phenotypic screens.

1:15-1:40 Phenotypic Assays: Exploring New Dimensions

Vincent Unterreiner, Scientist II, CPC, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research

At the Center for Proteomic Chemistry of the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, cell-based assays are evolving from target-based approaches using engineered cell lines towards more complex models using primary cells and having phenotypic readouts closer to the physiology. In that context the use of high-content screening and more particularly live-cell kinetic imaging is taking off with novel assay types, introducing new challenges not only in terms of execution but as well in image analysis, data management, IT infrastructure and processes. This increased complexity and the way our hit finding group is addressing it will be illustrated with several examples of new imaging assays that were developed to screen for compound activity in drug discovery.

1:40-2:05 Phenotypic Screening Using Target Pathway Gene Expression

Michelle Palmer, Ph.D., Director, Discovery and Preclinical Research, Broad Institute

2:05-2:30 Data Mining in Phenotypic Drug Discovery (PD2): Practical Examples Using the PHAEDRA Platform

Frans Cornelissen, Principal Scientist, Translational Informatics, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson

Statistical evidence that PD2 has been more productive in generating new drugs than target-based discovery has led to a resurgence of interest in cell-based pharmacology. Imaging-based HCS permits a huge quantity of information to be extracted from cellular phenotypes. A fundamental and crucial step towards more complete and efficient mining of HCS data is to construct a robust end-user platform for (semi-)automatic cellular phenotype identification and classification. A proof-of-concept will be presented to show that Phaedra is a sound and robust foundation that can be extended into an integrated pattern recognition and machine learning environment for HCS.

2:30-3:30 Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


Technology Showcase: Data and Image Analysis 



3:30-3:45 New IN Cell Analyzer Software Features for Screening Data Analysis and Intelligent Review Scan

Robert Graves, Ph.D., Lead Scientist, Cell Analysis, GE Healthcare
The IN Cell Analyzer High-Content Imaging system instrument GUI now incorporates an updated data review display allowing the user to generate heat maps of the hardware autofocus parameters. By monitoring uniformity of the focus position across a plate, the user can check autofocus consistency, which is useful as a troubleshooting tool when performing large screens.  The intelligent Review Scan feature uses real-time analysis during acquisition to assess each well against user-set criteria, and automatically triggers re-scanning of qualifying wells with a new protocol. This feature has been enhanced by incorporating object segmentation and allowing up to 7 additional object-based follow-on measurements to be collected. The additional acquisition criteria options can increase efficiencies when screening and can reduce data storage requirements.  


3:45-4:15 Portability of Images and Data in and out of Thermo Scientific HCS Store 

Audra Ziegenfuss, Technical Product Manager, Cellular Imaging and Analysis Products, Thermo Scientific
Sean Burke, Product Manager, De Novo Software
We will cover use cases on how to import various image formats for analysis by Thermo Scientific HCS Studio and look at different data and image exporting capabilities allowing 3rd party tools to visualize data.

Gene Data logo small
4:15-4:45 Overcome HCS Complexity of Multiple Instruments and Varied Image Analysis with Fast Secondary Analysis in a Simple and Solid Workflow

Oliver Leven, Ph.D., Head, Professional Services Screener Business Unit, Europe, Genedata AG

Biology labs use HCS as the workhorse for all phenotype-centric screening activities. Oftentimes, they must combine images from multiple instruments with image analysis tools from different vendors, third-parties, or custom software. These heterogeneous setups make central management, image search, or archiving difficult at best or nearly impossible at worst. This presentation will describe a new way to manage images and data from high-content experiments regardless of the instrument or other software packages.

Accelrys sm
4:45-5:00 Web-Based Informatics Enables Collaboration for High-Content Screening 

Tim Moran, Director, Life Science
Research, Accelrys

Informatics and the sharing of knowledge derived through High-Content Screening programs enables better informed decisions. Challenges in harmonization of High-Content Screening data in an organization or between partners is driving core HCS labs to harmonize and centralize HCS data derived from various instruments and departments. Cloud-based sharing of results enables research groups to make more informed decisions earlier in the process.

5:00-6:00 Welcome Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

6:00-9:00 Dinner Course*

SC3: High-Content Analysis for 3-Dimensional Cellular Models

*Separate Registration Required.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Download Brochure 

Executive Sponsor:  


Thermo Scientific  



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Corporate Sponsors:  

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