Garvan Breakthrough magazine - Feb 2018

Through the microscope This image shows oil droplets formed in a cellular genomics process called Drop-Seq. Drop‑Seq gives scientists the capability to understand how each cell is interpreting its genetic code (DNA) by looking at its transcriptome (RNA). The transcriptome, essentially ‘DNA in action’, helps define the function of each cell but also informs about the development of disease. Each oil droplet is a fully enclosed and separated reaction chamber. Here we see one co-encapsulating two objects: the dark circle is a microbead covered with barcoded primers, and the smaller, lighter circle is a cell. Through this method we can analyse tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of cells in a day in volumes as small as one nanolitre – a millionth of a millilitre – making the process economically viable. Droplet-based microfluidics are a major component of cellular genomics technologies and are fundamentally changing our understanding of cancer, immune disorders, neurological disease and many other normal and disease processes. Rob Salomon Technical Director, Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics

For more information and a video about cellular genomics, visit

February 2018 | 3

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