Cellular Assays

Sample Submission Quick Link

Existing projects billed through PBR, click here to submit samples online (PennKey login required). 

Existing projects billed through iLab, click here to submit samples online (login required). 

Services and Pricing

The HIC offers turnkey service for a range of cellular immunology assays:

  • Standard or digital ELISA (also called simoa, single-molecule assay) using Quanterix - Simoa® assay kits
  • Luminex multiplex assays using off-the-shelf or custom panels
  • T cell, B cell ELISPOT; plate reading/photo service (sorry, we do not offer read-your-own*)
  • Multicolor immunophenotyping using off-the-shelf or custom stain panels
  • Consultation on assay design, selection, quotations
  • Letters of support, methods, budgeting, or other information for grant proposals

Prices for cellular assays are shown on the full price list, downloadable under the Accounts, Billing, and Fees section, and a downloadable pdf of prices is also available (PennKey login required). Request a consultation if you would like a price quote.


* Why doesn't the HIC allow investigators to scan their own ELISPOT plates?  We have learned that the best way for many different labs to benefit from the scanner is to have trained HIC staff operating it.  We are experienced with "calibrating" the instrument when it comes to overlapping spots, very small or fuzzy spots versus artifacts, unequal spot distributions within a well, etc.  The HIC does not have the manpower to train others, help them troubleshoot, or manage instrument scheduling.  Moreover, many clients have found it faster and less expensive in terms of their trainee/staff time to have the HIC scan multiple ELISPOT plates for larger experiments.

Request A Consultation / Initiate A Project

STEP 1: Request a consultation and/or quotation by contacting Acting Technical Director Dr. Honghong Sun, PhD. Neither a PennKey nor a HIC account is required to schedule a consulation. Please be prepared with

  • the overall goal/question and projected timeline of your experiment
  • the assay or service you would like (Simoa, Luminex, etc.) - Dr Sun can assist with assay choice
  • sample type(s) including species if non-human, and approximate number
  • desired stain panel, analytes, use of off-the-shelf or custom stains / kits

Bring any questions or thoughts you may have on experimental design, customizing workflows for downstream applications, SOPs, etc. The HIC runs assays on a first come - first serve policy, so please allow 6-8 weeks of lead time as you plan your project with us. 


STEP 2:  Once you determine to do a project with the HIC, Path BioResource (PBR) staff will work with you to set up your study or project. Contact PBRHELPDESK@pennmedicine.upenn.edu, CC Dr. Honghong Sun. Download a copy of HIC Accounts & Billing Workflows. or visit our Accounts, Billing, and Fees section for instructions on how to set up or update HIC accounts.


STEP 3:  Submit samples online and ship or drop off physical samples to SCL 412.

Submit and Deliver Samples

STEP 1:  Submit an online request. Click here if your project will be billed through PBR (PennKey login required).  Select your project and enter your specimens/samples. Click here if your project will be billed through iLab (login required).  Select your project and enter your specimens/samples.  The HIC runs assays on a first come - first serve policy, so please allow 4-6 weeks of lead time.

Review our sample preparation and submission guidelines if not already done. Download and complete this sample submission worksheet and (if relevant) Luminex sample list, then email to Yangzhu Du, CC Honghong Sun


STEP 2:  Drop off samples at Stellar-Chance Labs (SCL) room 412, or ship them to this address.  Samples received outside of our posted cut-off times require approval at least 24 hours in advance of receipt and additional charges will apply.


Contact Honghong Sun Cc Yangzhu Du with any questions.  The HIC shipping address is Attn: Yangzhu Du, University of Pennsylvania, Stellar Chance Labs Rm. 412, Philadelphia, PA 19104.  Telephone: +1 215-573-5367.  Email: Yangzhu.Du@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Sample Preparation Guidelines

Download these sample preparation guidelines. We accept serum, plasma, cell culture supernatant, and body fluids for Luminex, standard ELISA, or digital ELISA (Simoa) assays.  We also accept cell samples for flow cytometry or ELISPOT assays.

Sample preparation considerations are critical for the success of your assay. For example, for cytokine assays immediate processing of the blood sample is very important because many cytokines have very short half lives. You should refrigerate the tube immediately after blood draw if you are in a pinch and can't get the sample to the HIC right away. Please consult with Dr. Honghong Sun in advance.


Plasma sample preparation

  • Use EDTA tubes rather than heparin tubes, since heparin may interfere with Luminex readings
  • Use harder spins if you don't care about the cells (up to 1300g for 10 minutes) or ask Dr. Honghong Sun for guidance

Serum sample preparation

  • Hold whole blood at room temperature before spinning; if you fail to do this, the sample may re-clot and interfere with your assay
  • Hold serum separator tubes (SST, also known as gold-top or marble-top) at room temperature for 30 minutes, then centrifuge (1000g 15 minutes) to remove clotted material before withdrawing serum
  • Hold red-top tubes at room temperature for 60 minutes, then centrifuge (1000g 15 minutes) to remove clotted material before withdrawing serum

Cell sample preparation – as directed in your project consultation with Dr. Sun. 


Important reminders

  • Clearly label sample container(s) with your name, the date, and HIC project name or number.
  • Samples must be in Eppendorf tubes. Cell culture or assay plates are not accepted.
  • DO NOT THAW frozen samples! Please deliver frozen samples to the HIC (412 SCL) on dry ice.
  • Don't forget to include internal control samples if available / appropriate for your experiment.
  • For samples other than plasma or serum, please provide 10 mL/plate of the culture medium or solution in which your samples are dissolved.
  • If you know your sample dilution factor, please indicate this on the sample list form. If not, the HIC will follow protocol instructions for dilutions.
  • Please submit sufficient sample volume for duplicating your test (refer to kit for recommended volumes):
    • 65-120 uL for Luminex assays
    • 100-250 uL for digital ELISAs
  • See below for the HIC shipping address and contact info.


Any leftover samples will be returned to you or discarded with your permission. Please contact Dr. Honghong Sun with any questions about sample preparation, submission, or retrieval, or for information on when your assay will be scheduled.