BioLab: learning, training and connecting

BioLab Lead image

BioLab at OICR manages state-of-art equipment for translational cancer research and offers free educational seminars, advanced technology workshops and hands-on instrument training sessions led by instrument application specialists.

The mission of BioLab is to provide continuous education and training for the next generation of Ontario cancer researchers using existing and advanced cancer-related technologies, applications, tools and instrumentation.

BioLab Provides

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BioLab goes beyond basic theory and training to provide application-driven experiences. BioLab training explores the full potential of state-of-art cancer research equipment from experimental design, through correct equipment usage and even covers project-driven applications.

The training sessions offered by BioLab foster collaboration in the cancer research community and provide a place to share experiences, build new collaborations and drive cancer research forward.


To address the Coronavirus outbreak, BioLab has decided to extend its educational offerings by launching the BioLab-Hub initiative to better assist its users and subscribers.

BioLab-Hub will be posting bi-weekly selection of free webinars on cancer-related technologies and research innovations, and a monthly view and learn topic-driven collection of curated technical resources on recent and new technologies, instrumentation, applications, videos and protocols related to cancer research (Read More).

To keep abreast on the ongoing BioLab-Hub news, please subscribe to our mailing list (for OICR staff), (external users).

To help tailoring the BioLab-Hub initiative to favour your research interests, please, sharing your ideas, suggestions, links, sites, and webinars to

Read a message from the Lead about how BioLab is adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic [PDF]

Upcoming training sessions from the community

Liquid Biopsy ONLINE Webinar Series
October 1-22, 2020 | See the full agenda and register here

Abstract: Moving towards the clinical utility of liquid biopsies is arguably the next step in the fight to transform cancer care, but setting up trials at scale is tremendously difficult.

The two most well-developed biomarkers for liquid biopsy, circulating tumour cells (CTCs) and circulating cell-free DNA (ctDNA) are subject to challenges in the pre-analytical and analytical steps.

Front Line Genomics offers Liquid Biopsy ONLINE 4-part series to dive into the liquid biopsy technology. 

Please note: by registering to one webinar in the series, you get access to all of them and will be sent access links around a week before the starting time

10X Genomics Webinar Learning Series
October 1-15, 2020 | See the full agenda and register here

Abstract:  10XGenomics, Miltenyi, Illumina, Immudex, BioLegend, Merck, and Partek will showcase how single cell and spatial transcriptomics can unlock biological mysteries across a number of research areas and drive your research further.

During the first 2 weeks of October, we are hosting a live series of short webinars, where researchers from top European laboratories will present some of the exciting findings that these technologies have enabled.

CRISPR Screening in Primary Human T Cells – Extending Cell Type Capabilities
October 2, 2020 | 12:00 p.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: Genetic screens are powerful tools to interrogate cell responses to drug treatment as well as microenvironment perturbations. With the increasing interest in manipulating the immune system to tackle disease and the use of CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)–Cas9 genome editing systems, screening primary cells is both appealing and feasible.

In this webinar, Cristina Ghirelli, immuno-oncology manager at Horizon Discovery, discusses the development of a pipeline to perform pooled CRISPR screening in primary T cells through a combined lentiviral and electroporation approach. 

Spatial Genomics Maps the Tumor Microenvironment
October 5, 2020 | 10:00 a.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: Spatial genomics is a power tool to shed light on the complexity and diversity of the immune context of the tumor microenvironment.  By bringing together the worlds of spatial biology and sequencing, spatial genomic analysis allows researchers to study the tumor microenvironment in situ and understand the influence of immune cells on cancer progression.

Dr. Peter Nelson of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center presents his study, which demonstrates a spatial genomics approach

Thermo Fisher Gene Expression University: qPCR 101: Introduction to Real-Time PCR
October 6, 2020 | 1:00 p.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: In Gene Expression University, you will learn from experts in real-time PCR and RNA Sequencing. Whether you are new to these technologies or an experienced gene expression researcher, you will find topics that will provide you with a deeper understanding of best practices for producing quality results. This webinar will review the basics of Real-Time PCR. 

High-throughput Identification of Intracellular Targets for Solid Tumors
October 7, 2020 | 2:00 p.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: Target identification in solid tumors can help enable therapeutic development against indications of high unmet need and across a wide patient population. Checkpoint therapy has shown that CD8+ T cells are responsible for driving patient responses, and yet the specificities of these T cells cannot be directly determined in an unbiased manner. This webinar will present a high-throughput platform to directly determine the specificities of clonally enriched and shared patient T cell responses. 

A cell culture master class: What your cells wish they could tell you
October 7, 2020 | 12:00 p.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: Cell culture—the controlled growing of cells outside their natural environment—may be commonplace in molecular biology laboratories, but one thing that strikes fear in both novices and experts using these techniques is contamination. This webinar is a master class for all those who perform primary and immortalized cell culture.  An additional section will be devoted to protein expression in suspension. This webinar should be equally beneficial to both novices and experts in cell culture.

Cancer Research & Oncology 2020
October 7- 8, 2020 | Register Here

Abstract:  The Cancer Research and Oncology Virtual Event is a two-day event focused on advancements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of different cancer types.

Cancer research has made major advancements in diagnosis, treatments, and the basic understanding of the disease itself. Each year we see progress in immunotherapy, treatments involving nanotechnology, advances in targeted and personalized therapeutics and drug development, and a decrease in mortality rates due to a strong focus on learning more about the origination of the disease.

The Importance of Liquid Biopsy MSI for Studying Tumors and Immunotherapy Applications
October 8, 2020 | 12:00 p.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: Microsatellite instability (MSI) has evolved as a marker of potential hereditary cancer risk and is now a tissue agnostic immune biomarker with a broad reaching impact across cancer screening, tumor biology and cancer treatment outcomes. MSI-high is the first tissue agnostic predictive immune biomarker achieving FDA approval for immune checkpoint blockade therapy.

Imaris Homeschool Webinar Series: How to combine various Imaris models to analyse your data efficiently?
October 8, 2020 | 11:00 a.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: This is part of “Segmentation and Analysis in Imaris” webinar series and live training sessions. Meet experts from around the world, ask questions and ask for a free Imaris Demo license.

This is an excellent opportunity for experienced users, as well as those less familiar with Imaris, to learn how the software can enhance their research projects while working remotely. 

Thermo Fisher Gene Expression University: Real-Time PCR Assay Design Best Practices
October 8, 2020 | 1:00 p.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: Real-time PCR is an extraordinarily powerful tool that is widely used for a multitude of applications. But the quality of your real-time PCR data is only as good as the quality of your assay. This webinar discusses important considerations to keep in mind when it comes to assay design and will showcase several tools available through Thermo Fisher Scientific to help you to design and choose assays that enable your success performing real-time PCR.

Thermo Fisher Gene Expression University: Real-Time PCR Basics: How to Produce the Best Quality Data
October 13, 2020 | 1:00 p.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: Gene expression quantification is one of the most commonly performed, yet complex and demanding real-time PCR applications. But how do you know your results are accurate? This webinar discusses fundamentals of real-time PCR technology, as well as the challenges and vulnerabilities of gene expression experiments, and how to address them.

Application of ctDNA Analysis to Detect MRD and Predict Recurrence in Colorectal Cancer
October 14, 2020 | 10:00 a.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: Methods for ctDNA detection require very high-sensitivity approaches in order to detect microscopic disease after surgery or treatment. Methods have been developed that utilize genomic profiling of tumor tissue based on patient-specific next-generation sequencing (NGS) panels. High-sensitivity personalized panels allow detection of residual disease and serial monitoring for detection of recurrence.

The webinar will discuss the use of such panels to test for residual disease and recurrence in the treatment of colorectal cancer.

Imaris Homeschool Webinar Series: How to use machine learning and other object classification modes in Imaris?
October 15, 2020  | 11:00 a.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: This is part of “Segmentation and Analysis in Imaris” webinar series and live training sessions. In this webinar you will learn how to use machine learning and other object classification modes in Imaris.

This is an excellent opportunity for experienced users, as well as those less familiar with Imaris, to learn how the software can enhance their research projects while working remotely. 

Thermo Fisher Gene Expression University: Set-Up and Analysis of a Real-Time PCR Experiment Using the QuantStudio 3 or QuantStudio 5 Software
October 15, 2020 | 1:00 p.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: This webinar will demonstrate two methods to set-up and analyze gene expression data in the QuantStudio 3/5 instrument software: the relative standard curve method and the Delta-Delta-Ct method. It will include designating endogenous controls and reference samples. The software contains several features that allow a researcher to determine the quality of the amplification data. You will learn how to evaluate the quality of your qPCR data and how to use troubleshooting tools in the software when needed.

Biobanking masterclass: Essential tips and tools for optimized processes
October 16, 2020 | 11:00 a.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: Biobanking processes such as the collection, preservation, transportation and storage of biological material and associated data (BMaD) as well as the traceability, QC/QA and efficiency throughout these processes can be improved by utilizing technological advancements including automation, software integration, innovative equipment and advanced biological material identification methods.

Understanding how in vitro macrophage assays drive IO drug development forward
October 20, 2020 | 12:00 p.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are key cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME) with diverse immune functions that have a major influence on tumorigenesis. Thus, TAMs have gained increasing attention as promising targets for the development of effective anti-cancer immunotherapy. In pre-clinical drug discovery research, in vitro macrophage assays are commonly performed to monitor the effect of immunotherapeutic candidates. These assays represent a helpful tool in predicting the effect of immunotherapeutics on TAMs in vivo.

Advancing Together: Accelerating Discovery through Live Cell Analysis with Agilent and BioTek
October 22, 2020 | 9:00 a.m. EDT | Register Here

Abstract: This live virtual event will showcase presentations by leading scientists from notable institutions around the world, sharing their research on infectious disease. Agilent, and BioTek, the newest member of the Agilent family, will be showcasing their latest innovations in cell analysis for infectious disease research including product launches, software demos, and scientific posters. Product experts from both companies will also be available to answer questions.

On demand training sessions from the community

Ask the Promega and Corning Experts: 3D Cell Culture Assays 
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: 3D culture models have many benefits compared to 2D models, including increased physiological relevance and better prediction of in vivo responses to drug treatments. But most existing cell-based assays are designed for 2D cultures and may not produce the same results in 3D cultures. Thus, it is important to understand how 3D structures might impact assay performance and to ensure the assay is optimized for 3D models.

Multi-omics Strategies for Investigating Cancer Biology and Biomarkers
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: The rapid progress in high-throughput technologies and platforms for profiling cells at the genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolic level is transforming our ability to study cancer. Integration of multi-omics datasets has generated unprecedented insights into cancer biology, evolution, heterogeneity, and response to therapy. In this webinar, leaders in the field of cancer genomics, will discuss recent work employing multi-omics approaches to comprehensively characterize cancer in order to advance diagnosis and treatment. 

CRISPR-Cas assisted genetics in intestinal organoids
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: The identification of LGR5 + intestinal stem cells helped us to understand various aspects of adult stem cells and led to the establishment of a primary 3D intestinal organoid culture system from mouse and human tissues. This novel culture system faithfully recapitulates various aspects of the intestinal epithelium in vitro with remarkable long-term expansion capacity and genetic stability. Thus, the model is recognized as a suitable in vitro model system for genetic studies. To exploit all the potential of this culture, protocols have been fully optimized for primary establishment, maintenance, cryopreservation, plasmid transfection and viral transduction. A number of examples will be shown to introduce how to apply CRISPR technology and organoid models for genetic studies, including simultaneous paralogue knockout, functional genetic screening and precise gene correction.

Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Science seminar series
Register/ Watch Here

It involves speakers who are leaders in cancer biology, immune oncology and other fields from across the world. Outstanding presentations will be shared with researchers around the globe and recorded for subsequent viewing.

IncuCyte Resources: Live-Cell Analysis of Cell Subsets and Heterogeneity
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: The webinar will present the new IncuCyte cell-by-cell analysis module that allows users to ‘count and classify’ heterogeneity in cell populations over time.

The software uses novel algorithms to segment the HD phase-contrast images which facilitates (1) label-free true cell counting (2) extraction of basic morphological features of individual cells (e.g. size, shape), and (3) measurement of fluorescence intensity that originates from within each cell (‘fluorescence within a phase boundary’). 

Harnessing Neoantigens for Individualized Cancer Immunotherapy
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: Neoantigens resulting from the presentation of mutated peptides on MHC molecules are attractive therapeutic targets. They are tumor specific, elicit CD8 and CD4 T cell responses by being recognized as foreign by the immune system, and there is emerging evidence that neoantigens are drivers of protective immunity to cancer.

A challenge with harnessing neoantigens is that most neoantigens are patient tumor specific and require the development of individualized immunotherapy.

Capture the Dark Genome: From Repeat-Expansions to CRISPR Unintended Mutations
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: Sequenced genomes retain a surprisingly large number of “dark” regions – sections that have proven difficult to characterise via short-read sequencing and PCR-based approaches. Potentially valuable information or disease-relevant function of tandem repeats, structural variants, and CG-rich regions is obscured by amplification bias, ambiguous read mapping, or simply the time and cost of alternative techniques.

This webinar will explore a new enrichment method that uses short (~150 bp) detection sequences to indirectly capture target stretches of DNA generating a high-fidelity enriched sample of long regions (>100 kb) that can be used in both short- and long-read targeted sequencing.

Single-Cell Omics for Drug Targets
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: Single cell technologies can be utilised by pharmaceutical companies to strengthen their pipeline by uncovering drug targets across multiple disease areas. This webinar will bring you examples of the adoption and lessons learned from Pharma, and how you can simplify the data analysis.

LC-MS Platform – A Wonderful Cure for Protein Science Headaches
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: There are estimated to be 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the human genome giving rise to a similar number of proteins. Each protein is a unique molecule which needs to be individually studied to understand its role and function.

A lack of understanding exactly what protein has been produced, and how it may have been modified in the cell, can commonly lead to much wasted time and effort downstream, especially when it comes to trying to form protein crystals for structure-based drug discovery.

This webinar will discuss how mass spectrometry is used for characterization of the protein and how it can be used as an analytical tool to solve problems in the development of methods to generate proteins.

Leica Webinar Series: Single Cells Shine New Light on Lung Biology and Disease
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: Over the past decade there have been rapid advances in knowledge about cells and tissues using single cell analysis. In this webinar, Dr. Wharton reviews a set of published studies using single cell analysis of lung tissues that have provided ground breaking insight into lung development and disease.

Functional Assay of Neutralizing Antibodies In Vitro
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: Neutralizing antibodies bind at or near the active site of the drug molecule and neutralize its functional activity. For therapeutic neutralizing antibodies, their functional activities are evaluated from screening, research and development, production and product release. Due to advances in basic theory and technology, these methods are updated rapidly.

This webinar discusses the approaches used to screen for SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV) neutralizing antibodies and evaluate their bioactivity in vitro.

Enhanced, Rapid Target Identification by NGS for Vaccine Development
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is the primary technology used to identify genomic targets. Enhanced options for NGS now make it possible to identify multiple potentially pathogenic strains of a disease and understand the rate of evolution quickly, with improved precision. These tools are paramount to thwart the current global pandemic, to identify targets for vaccine development.

Leica Webinar Series: Multiplex Detection – From Discovery to Clinical Practice
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: An unmet need in tissue diagnostics is the ability to simultaneously detect three or more markers on a single tissue specimen, i.e. multiplexing. Unlike other immunoassays, i.e. flow cytometry, ELISA and bead assays, which solely quantify the biomarker in a sample, a multiplex immunoassay quantifies the biomarker, identifies the location of the cell in the tissue and identifies the spatial relationship of the biomarkers with respect to each other.

Leica Webinar Series: Going Digital – The”Why’s” and “How’s” of Adopting Digital Pathology
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: In recent years, digital pathology has gone from an intriguing idea to an integral part of how academic and commercial labs operate. Join Leica Biosystems and Procia Digital Pathology for discussion on why institutions are going digital today and how they approach best practices in digital implementation. Learn the exciting potential that digital and computational medicine hold for pathology and discover why now is the time to bring digital pathology into your organization.

Recap and Recordings: Ontario CRISPR Seminar Series
On Demand 

The Ontario CRISPR Seminar Series offered by Synthego covered different aspects of research using CRISPR genome editing. The recordings of each session are provided below.

Applications of CRISPR Engineered Cell Lines 

Increased Confidence in Target Discovery and Validation through Unbiased and Reproducible CRISPR Knockouts

Improve Your Cell-Based Research with Real-Time Assays by Promega
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: In vitro cell-based assays are useful tools for measuring the health of a cell population. These assays can help uncover parameters such as cell viability, death, mitochondrial events, oxidative stress, metabolism and more. While cell-based assays have become an important component of a researcher’s toolkit, traditional endpoint assays can present various challenges. Real-time assays enable the repeated recording of kinetic data over time without harming the cell sample, and they provide the flexibility of downstream multiplexing. In this webinar, you will explore assay design and considerations for plate-based real-time assays, multiplexing and 3D culture. 

Simultaneous Profiling of the Transcriptome and Epigenome at Single Cell Resolution
On Demand | Register Here

Abstract: Reveal biological insights with single cell multi-omic profiling by unifying your view of the transcriptome and epigenome. Leverage two modalities at once to more deeply characterize complex cell populations and capture cellular heterogeneity, and discover gene regulatory interactions driving cell differentiation, development, and disease. 

Past BioLab sessions


  • Amnis® Multispectral Imaging Flow Cytometry for Single Cell Analysis: Tools and Applications
    January 28, 2020


  • Virtual Reality (VR) in Cancer Imaging: Project Theia – Interactive VR Cancer Research Lab
    November 29, 2019
  • The Antibody Reproducibility Crisis
    October 17, 2019
  • Targeting Epigenetic Mechanisms: Challenges and Solutions
    October 15, 2019
  • BioTek’s Cytation Multi-Mode Cell Imager: Practical Applications for Imaging and Quantification of Cell-Based Assays
    September 18, 2019
  • Development and Implementation of Clinical Proteomics for Precision Oncology: Applications at the Bedside
    August 6, 2019 | [Watch on YouTube]
  • Magnetic 3D Bioprinting of Cells: an advance platform for developing tumor models for high throughput functional studies and drug screening
    July 24, 2019 | [Watch on YouTube]
  • Improving Communication through Visuals: 10 Tips for Better Science Figures
    July 11, 2019
  • Artificial Intelligence in Cancer Imaging: Bridging the Gap between Pathologist and Algorithm
    June 21, 2019 | [Watch on YouTube]
  • Live Cell Imaging with OkoLab BioStation and Leica SP8 Microscope
    May 30, 2019
  • IsoPlexis Single Cell Platform Links Functional Proteomics with Cancer Immunotherapy
    May 28, 2019
  • Oncomine Technology and Solutions for Utilization of Liquid Biopsy Assays in Cancer Research and Clinical Practice
    May 9, 2019
  • Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy: Exploring Field of View and Mosaic Function to Assemble Single High-Resolution Images into a Large Super image
    April 24, 2019
  • MACSQuant® Tyto® Flow Cell Sorter for Multiparametric Cell Sorting Based on Microchip Technology for Sterile and Gentle Cell Isolation
    April 17, 2019
  • Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy: Leica SP8 TCP Basics
    April 10, 2019
  • Smarter Medicine: Getting Started in Computational Pathology
    April 9, 2019 | [Download the slides]
  • Optimizing Ribonucleoprotein Delivery to Achieve Potent and Precise CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing
    March 27, 2019
  • Simultaneous Detection of Noncoding RNAs and Protein Cell Surface Markers from PBMC Subpopulations
    January 31 and February 1st, 2019
  • MaxCyte Flow Electroporation Technology: Choosing the Right Cell Engineering Technology from Discovery to Manufacturing
    January 29, 2019
  • Simultaneous Detection of mRNA transcripts and Proteins in Different Immune Cell Subsets
    January 22, 2019
  • Innovative Tools and Techniques for Isolation and Characterization of Cancer-Derived Exosomes (MACSPlex and MACSQuant)
    January 16, 2019


  • Novel Automated Platforms for CRISPR-Engineered Cell Lines and Synthetic sgRNA for Primary Cell and Screening Applications
    November 29, 2018
  • PrimeFlow RNA Assay for simultaneous detection of RNA and Protein by Flow Cytometry
    November 8, 2018 | PowerPoint slides
  • Three-Dimensional Organoid Cultures as In Vitro Models for Cancer Research: Applications and Prospective
    October 24, 2018
  • Tools and Techniques for Isolation and Multi-Plex Analysis of Cancer-Derived Exosomes via Flow Cytometry
    October 10, 2018
  • The Moffitt Cancer Center approach to pathology diagnostics supporting the delivery of precision oncology and immune-oncology treatments
    October 16, 2018 | Video
  • Introduction to Multiphoton Microscopy and Fluorescent Lifetime Microscopy (FLIM)
    October 16, 2018
  • Basics of Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy
    October 4, 2018
  • BioPlex 200 Analyzer: How to Use of xMAP Technology to Measure Complex Immune Responses
    September 10, 2018
  • Global Transcriptome Profiling for Better Biomarkers
    September 5, 2018
  • OkoLab BioStation for Live Cell Imaging by Leica SP8 Microscope
    August 1st, 2018
  • The Future of Diagnosis: Learning To Recognize Similar Images In Digital Pathology
    July 31, 2018
  • Computational Pathology Tools for Whole Slide Biomarker: ISH spot quantification at single cell resolution at the STTARR image analysis core facility
    July 19, 2018
  • OkoLab BioStation for Live Cell Imaging by Leica SP8 Microscope
    June 25, 2018
  • Circulating Tumor DNA (ctDNA): Detection and Applications in Curable Cancers
    June 11, 2018
  • Preparation of Single Cell Suspensions from Tissues for Cell RNA Sequencing by 10XGenomics
    May 7, 2018
  • Multiplexing and Applications of the QuantiGene™ Plex and ViewRNA™Assay in Cancer Research and Diagnostics
    May 2, 2018
  • Basics of Leica Laser TCS SP8 Confocal Microscopy
    April 24, 2018
  • Droplets for Cancer Detection in Liquid Biopsy
    April 19, 2018
  • Advancing Oncology Research with High Content Imaging and 3D Models: Technology and Application Overview
    April 5, 2018
  • MACS Technologies for Single Cell Omics: Methods for Sample Preparation, Cell Isolation and Single Cell Analysis for Cancer Research
    March 29, 2018
  • Quantitative Intracellular and Intra-Nuclear Spot Analysis Using Cytation-3 Digital Microscopy
    February 13, 2018
  • Visualize Gene Expression and Genetic Variations in Tumor Microenvironment: Applications of RNAscope and BaseScope ISH Technologies
    February 5, 2018


Dr. Vanya Peltekova PhD
Lead, BioLab Operations, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
All inquiries can be addressed to Dr. Peltekova at

Seminars and workshops are for educational purposes only and are not an endorsement of any products or services by BioLab or by OICR.