Institute for Health and Consumer Protection


The Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) is one of the seven scientific institutes of the Joint Research Centre, a DG of European Commission. The mission of IHCP is to provide scientific support to policies related to health and consumer protection.

Our research group is part of the Systems Toxicology Unit of IHCP. We have been heavily involved in functional imaging/microscopy methods for analysis of cells and tissues in vitro. Recently the research has been focused on high throughput screening (HTS) and high content analysis (HCA) for assessing the (human) hazard/toxicity of chemicals and nanomaterials. The High Throughput Screening facility consists of two robotic platforms supported by ample cell culturing and compound management laboratories. The robotic platform is a flexible, modular, system for the full automation of a wide variety of cell-based and biochemical assays. It consists of a high-throughput liquid handler, ancillary instrumentation such as an optical plate reader, a plate washer and an on-line incubator, and two automated imaging platforms for High Content Analysis. The cell culturing laboratories ensure the continuous provision of a variety of biological models in 96 or 384-well plate formats, while the compound management activity delivers high quality, ready-to-test samples of chemicals and nanomaterials selected for toxicity profiling.

Robotic platform with automated imaging system

Within the Photonics4Life consortium our main priority will be to identify and implement promising functional imaging methods that lend themselves to HCA in the context of automated screening. In particular, we will focus on heterodyne interference microscopy for non-invasive ultra-sensitive cell morphometry, and label-free fluorescence spectroscopy techniques for real-time molecular imaging.


Joint Research Centre - European Commission
Institute for Health and Consumer Protection
Via E. Fermi 1
21027 Ispra



Contact person

Maurice Whelan