Cell Culture Bioassays

Content & Learning Objective

This three-day course provides a general introduction to establishing, optimizing and troubleshooting cell culture bioassays. It is specifically designed for lab personnel who are already carrying out bioassays or just getting started with them.

Many requirements must be met in order to consistent achieve good-quality, reproducible results with cell culture bioassays. They include correct use of the cell stocks, standardized protocols, counting and pipetting, as well as the right choice of media, cell culture plasticware, and assays.

This course addresses the factors that influence bioassays, what to keep an eye on, and how to establish, control, and troubleshoot assays. Participants also gain hands-on experience by conducting several assays, performing preliminary tests, and analyzing the results to gain awareness of common sources of error and variations.

The theoretical part of the course covers: 

  • Quality of bioassays
  • Risk analysis as a basis for making decisions
  • Bioassay troubleshooting: causes of variations
  • Cells: choice, identity, contamination and banking
  • Plasticware for bioassays
  • Media: quality, storage and handling
  • FCS: use and batch variation, storage
  • Equipment that can affect quality
  • Pipetting: precision, choice, shear forces
  • Routine methods: when and where standardization is useful
  • Establishing and optimizing assays
  • Troubleshooting assays
  • Discussion and interpretation of results

The practical part covers:

  • Tips for analyzing cells with light microscopy
  • Crystal violet assays
  • WST-8 and MTT assays
  • Pipet tests
  • Troubleshooting and feedback while performing assays

Target Group

Technical and scientific research workers with with cell culture experience who want to enhance their knowledge on cell culture bioassays or who want to establish Bioassays in their labs.


Dr. Nicole Kühl studied Biology at the Technical University of Karlsruhe and the University of Bremen. In 1999 she completed her PhD in cell and molecular biology studying the cell cycle and heat shock proteins. Dr. Kühl then began her post-doctorate work at the Academic Hospital Groningen in the Netherlands, where she specialized in research related to Multiple Sclerosis and worked with primary glial cells. In 2005, she continued her work at the Jacobs University Bremen, where she led a research group and lectured in biochemistry and cell biology. From 2008 to 2011, Dr. Kühl was head of the PromoCell Academy and taught cell culture courses. Since 2012, she is a freelance trainer and consultant in the area of cell culture quality control (