Understanding the rules of life

Bioscience for an integrated understanding of health

Category: CASE Studentships

Unlocking the ultra-high-throughput capabilities of a novel array technology

Project No.2206

Primary Supervisor

Prof Anastasia Callaghan – University of Portsmouth


Dr Madeleine Cleal – Scienion UK



The Callaghan team at the university of Portsmouth have successfully developed a novel, patented, array technology which enables the analysis and manipulation of the gene expression processes (transcription and translation) for multiple targets in a simple assay

A key aspect is the ability to generate functional-RNA arrays from user-defined DNA-template arrays, enabling transcription to be monitored and manipulated. The functional-RNA arrays produced can then be used for bespoke RNA studies, such as exploring RNA-interactions with potential partner molecules. Alternatively, the functional-RNA arrays can be used to generate protein arrays, enabling monitoring and manipulation of the translation process. With core capabilities in the DNA-to-RNA-to-protein space, the array technology is highly applicable to assay development for the study of a number of biomolecules/targets in one step. For example, applications are applicable to fields including synthetic biology and bioprocessing (i.e. controlling protein production at the RNA level), diagnostics (i.e. RNAs as biosensors) and therapeutics (i.e. RNA as drug targets). However, to maximise the capability of the array technology, and enable more molecules to be studied at one time, higher-density arrays are needed. Building on the Callaghan team’s recent work in this area (please see publications), the aim of this PhD CASE project is to transition the array technology to an ultra-high-density format. Success will be based on exploiting the synergy between in vitro molecular biology for optimising array technology approaches, chemistry/smart materials strategies for surface immobilisation, and ultra-low volume dispensing engineering. The input and guidance from industrial partner, Scienion, is key as they are a global market leader in ultra-low volume precision dispensing for microarray technologies and have expansive unique knowledge in biomolecule surface immobilisation methods, including applications of smart materials. As such, Scienion are the perfect partner to maximise the success of this project,

providing expertise to unlock ultra-high-density capabilities of the array technology, and thus it’s broader application to academic and industrial/commercial bioscience research.