The Assay Development and Drug Discovery Core provides in-house expertise coupled with state-of-the-art equipment to help academic and industry scientists establish new assays or adapt and refine existing ones for high-throughput screening, enabling target identification and drug discovery. The core’s expertise applies to all life science disciplines to accelerate research into target and drug discovery phases, identify novel targets within pathways, and drive findings into clinical trials and ultimately therapies for disease.

Our team looks forward to supporting your next project.


Anke Meyer-Franke, PhD
Core Director


Services Provided

  • Development of medium to high-throughput assays, ranging from small pilot studies to large scale screens
  • Specialized equipment with scheduled independent access
  • Validation of high-throughput screening assays with select bioactive small molecules
  • Access to fully annotated library of bioactive small molecules for target and drug discovery
  • Access to small, focused libraries to hone in on targets, (e.g. kinase and GPCR inhibitors)
  • Transfer assays to high-throughput screening facilities for the next phase of drug discovery
  • In-house consultants with biotech expertise in many areas such as medicinal chemistry and in vitro and in vivo pharmacology, plus connection to a vetted network of contract research organizations (CROs) for pre-clinical and pre-IND programs

Core Members

Anke Meyer-Franke
Core Director


The Assay Development & Drug Discovery Core supports Upward Research Labs scientists, academic research institutions, and startups to design and automate high-throughput assays for pathway target identification and drug discovery at various stages of development.

The core’s small molecule libraries, technology, and expertise can be applied to all life science disciplines for development of biochemical or cell-based assays from small to large scales. In addition, our team is able to transfer assays to external screening facilities.


Design: From the onset of a project, we take a flexible and collaborative approach. We will work with you directly to develop assays for your project or train you to develop, miniaturize, and optimize assays to be highly reproducible for medium (96-well) to high (384-well) formats.

Build: Our team will assist in the iterative process required to test and optimize assay conditions, and can perform assays for you to save you time. Alternatively, we can train you to independently use plate readers for biochemical assays and use automated high-throughput microscopes for cell-based assays.


Automate: The core offers assistance and troubleshooting to automate screening assays that have been tested and validated on a small scale. We use robotic liquid handling systems to automate high-throughput assays and offer a fully bio-annotated library of compounds for screening.

Analyze and Inform: After automation, the core will run a small screen of compounds to validate the newly developed assay. After developing, optimizing, running and validating assays in-house, you can transfer these assays to high-throughput screening facilities (such as the Small Molecule Discovery Center at UC San Francisco) to perform additional screening with larger structurally diverse compound libraries.



How can I access core services and instrumentation?

To access the core services and instrumentation, email Anke Meyer-Franke.

In order to gain access to instrument scheduling, you will first need to be trained on the instrument. Training is provided by either the core director or by the instrument application scientists.

The core operates on a fee for service basis.

For corporate clients, you will need to sign a service agreement with Upward Research Labs prior to using the core facility. Once the agreement has been signed, you will be trained on the instrumentation.

Can I access the core via iLab Solutions?

At this point, the core is not currently accessible via iLab. We will let users know when we make the transition to iLab. 

Will I have access to the core during off-peak times?

Current COVID-19 policies allow external users to come into Upward Research Labs only when core staff are present. As our policies change, you may be eligible for Upward Research Labs badge access, which will give you access to the facility during off-peak times.