Lead Discovery & Optimization

High Throughput Screening

Southern Research maintains a state-of-the-art High-Throughput Screening Center featuring the most advanced equipment available and a well-trained staff to ensure the highest quality of screening for our clients' research projects. The Center consists of a suite of laboratories designed for efficient screening of large (100,000 to over 1 million) compound libraries and has the capacity to run a wide variety of assay types. Our professional staff has in-depth experience and a demonstrated proficiency in transferring bench-top assays to the robotics platform and executing cell-based and biochemical screens. In addition to executing standard high-throughput screening assays, our research team is experienced in running yeast-based assays as well as assays that require BSL-2 or BSL-3 containment.

High Volume Screening and Diverse Assay Types

  • Since 2006, the High-Throughput Screening Center at Southern Research has processed more than 30 assays and three million compounds each year.
  • Southern Research has extensive expertise in screening diverse assay types. More than half of the assays we have screened since 2006 have originated from outside academic investigators. Some have also resulted from collaborations with commercial sources.
  • Our experienced staff has executed 16 BSL-2 containment projects (including five million compounds screened) and 7 BSL-3 containment projects (including 1.6 million compounds screened). Our select agent clearance has enabled us to screen more than 500,000 compounds against highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1).
  • With a long history of expertise in cancer drug discovery, we have recently run more than a dozen assays against cancer targets.
  • In a new initiative, our staff has screened seven assays from the field of neurobiology.
  • Since the inception of our involvement in the NIH Roadmap Molecular Libraries program, we have had the mandate to develop and screen compounds against disease relevant models from every type of biology.

Specialized Capabilities

  • In addition to small molecule screening, Southern Research implemented whole human genome siRNA screening in 2010. In collaboration with The University of Alabama at Birmingham, high-throughput screening is available at Southern Research using the Ambion Silencer Select Human Genome siRNA Library V4 containing 21,585 human targets with three non-overlapping siRNAs for each target.
  • We offer the capability to utilize RT-PCR in 1,536-well density, an advanced method of detection now available for high-value targets. Miniaturizing to 1,535-well density makes PCR economically feasible as a method of detection.
  • Southern Research has extensive experience screening infectious agents in BSL-2 and BSL-3 containment. We are currently involved in a collaborative project that would also make BSL-4 screening available to our collaborators and clients.

Research Programs

Our High-Throughput Screening Center currently conducts five large screening programs for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and executes a number of other projects through academic or commercial collaborations. Primary research programs include:

  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis drug screening, recently expanded to include biodefense-related targets (NIAID, NO1-AI-15499)
  • In vitro antiviral screening program for SARS-CoV, highly pathogenic (H5N1) avian influenza, and other respiratory viruses (NIAID, NO1-AI-30047)
  • HTS for neurodegenerative diseases (NINDS, NO1-NS-22348)
  • Screening for HIV targets (NIAID, NO1-AI-05415)
  • NIH Roadmap Molecular Libraries Pilot (NHGRI, U54-H6-003917) and the NIH Roadmap Molecular Libraries Probe Production Center (NHGRI, U54-HG-005034)
  • The NCI Chemical Biology Consortium - one of twelve centers

Contract Services

Southern Research maintains an advanced High-Throughput Screening and Target Development program designed for rapid, target-specific analysis utilizing robotics to evaluate large compound libraries, including siRNA libraries. On a contractual basis, we offer clients access to our large compound library and our extensive expertise in screening assay-ready plates. We welcome collaborative partnerships with clients who have an interest in evaluating potential antiviral, antimicrobial, anticancer, or neurological activity on a fee-for-service or compound licensing basis.

Our High-Throughput Screening and Target Development program uses both commercially available and proprietary biochemical and cell-based screening assays. These include primary and secondary screening, hit-to-lead processes, and the subsequent optimization of lead compounds. A large inventory of primary and secondary assays is available to provide clients with an early and comprehensive profile of a compound's clinical potential.

Our laboratory is experienced in the design and development of new assays and the adaptation of current assay systems to high-throughput, automated screening systems. Our core assay system is equipped with various readers that enable us to develop assays based on our clients' choice of endpoint detection methods. Specifically, we are equipped to support clients' drug development in the following key ways:

  • Design of assay systems for target of interest
  • Development and optimization of high-throughput screens
  • Adaptation and optimization of existing assays to high-throughput screens
  • Technical support for assay development personnel
  • Access to one million compounds and human genome siRNAs


Southern Research maintains several active collaborative research programs, and we continue to seek academic, government, and commercial research partnerships in high-throughput screening and drug discovery. We welcome collaborative opportunities in pursuit of government funding for joint efforts, including grant applications, competitive contracts, and Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Using intellectual property income, Southern Research funds an in-house drug discovery program for the purpose of developing commercially relevant intellectual property.

Contact Us

For more information about our capabilities, contact us at:
888-322-1166 (U.S.)
1-205-581-2830 (International)