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Professor Tom Riley Lab

30 Year Commitment for Professor Tom Riley

Professor Tom Riley from Pathwest Laboratory Medicine and The University of Western Australia has been a committed Don Whitley Scientific customer for over 30 years. In the past few years he has installed two A35 Anaerobic Workstations into his lab to replace a Whitley MK III Workstation that had given him over 20 years of reliable performance.

Professor Riley started using anaerobic workstations over 30 years ago when the capacity and time consuming operation of jar gassing systems was deemed unsuitable for the number of samples he had. Tom explained to Don Whitley Scientific how he came to use Whitley Workstations. “My original anaerobic chamber from a manufacturer in Australia (that doesn’t exist anymore) was hopeless.”. The next option for Professor Riley was a Whitley MKIII Anaerobic Workstation, which served his lab for over 20 years, and was the first Whitley Anaerobic Workstation in Australia. His two Whitley A35 Anaerobic Workstations currently play a part in work that Professor Riley explains as “almost exclusively research into Clostridium difficile. This includes everything from diagnostics to pathogenesis and epidemiology”.

Although the MK III provided a reliable anaerobic environment for such a long time in Professor Riley’s lab, there are new benefits provided by the A35 Anaerobic Workstation that Tom finds particularly useful, such as the Instant Access Porthole System and Letterbox entry. The Instant Access Porthole System is unique to DWS, allowing entry to the chamber in seconds without the need of gloves or sleeves. Letterbox entry allows the user to introduce Petri dishes and similar small items into the anaerobic workstation environment in no time at all. As aforementioned, Tom also needed extra capacity to process a large number of samples. Compared to using the MKIII or anaerobic jars, the main chamber of an A35 Anaerobic Workstation will accommodate between 400-600 x 90mm Petri dishes depending on whether plate carriers are used, which accessories and system options have been incorporated and how much working space is required.

The space and reliability provided by Whitley Workstations has served Professor Tom Riley well for over three decades now. He is part of a long list of satisfied Whitley Workstation users around the world, who are all doing fantastic work with Don Whitley Scientific products.


Recent papers from the Riley lab are listed below



WASP Touch

WASP Touch and ProtoCOL3 play key part in Australian Lab

A research and development lab at the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (Sydney, Australia) recently purchased a WASP Touch Spiral Plater and ProtoCOL3 colony counter. The lab is carrying out research on food safety of fresh horticultural produce and nuts. The head of the research program, Dr SP Singh, spoke to Don Whitley Scientific to explain how these two new products, provided by DWS, are key to his team’s working processes.

Dr Singh and his colleagues are exploring fresh options when it comes to food safety: “We are developing new ways of sanitising the produce by killing potential foodborne bacterial pathogens”. The produce his lab are sanitising is often used for export, meaning this is a vital process to ensure safety for the consumer. Dr Singh explains that “we have to deal with hundreds of samples everyday” meaning “plating and enumeration is a core lab activity”.

The lab’s project was recently featured on NBN News – The project is a world’s first and to sanitise food without the use of chemicals could be a revolutionary step forward in food safety.

Speaking about his decision to invest in the DWS products, Dr Singh said “we were looking to improve lab productivity and resource use efficiency by switching to spiral plating and automatic counting”.

The Whitley WASP Touch is the latest spiral plater from Don Whitley Scientific (who have been manufacturing spiral platers since their inception in the 1970s). WASP Touch provides real cost savings and process improvements, as well as eliminating the time-consuming process of serial dilution.

The ProtoCOL3 (from Synbiosis) facilitates automated colony counting and zone reading using a hi-specification digital camera and LED lighting. The system comes equipped with a touchscreen PC for analysing samples. Another positive that we provided to Dr Singh was the fact Don Whitley Scientific was able to provide both of these products, making the acquisition of vital equipment more straight forward: “Don Whitley Scientific offered this integrated solution of automatic plating and counting”.

To summarise, the WASP Touch and ProtoCOL3 should provide improvements to the efficiency and working methods of Dr SP Singh’s revolutionary lab.


Dr S.P. Singh's Lab

Dr SP Singh’s Lab



The WASP Touch and ProtoCOL3 should provide improvements to the efficiency and working methods of DR SP Singh’s revolutionary lab. To find out more about the Don Whitley Scientific product range in the UK click here, call us on +44 (0) 1274 595728 or email us at

For Don Whitley Scientific Australia click here call us on (02) 4339 1029 or email us at





WASP Touch in operation

How to Choose a Spiral Plater for Your Microbiology Laboratory

In this exclusive interview with, Dr. Andrew Pridmore, Head of Microbiology at Don Whitley Scientific, discusses the benefits of using a spiral plater, what to look for in a system and how the new WASP Touch from Don Whitley Scientific (DWS) can help ensure your laboratory has consistent trackable, plating results.

Don Whitley Scientific introduced their first Spiral plater in 1978, why are they still relevant to today’s modern microbiology lab?
Much of the testing done back in 1978 when we first introduced spiral plating to the UK, is still relevant today. However, increased quality control measures have led to laboratories looking more to automation to help improve reproducibility and accuracy. Spiral plating offers a real reduction in the cost-per-test and standardises counting methods. Serial dilutions, for many users, can be eliminated, which in turn saves time, the cost of consumables and space in the incubator.


One of the key issues facing labs is calibration, validation and traceability, how can a spiral plater help with this?
Spiral plating techniques are recognised in the ISO 4833-2 standard. This is a general recognition of the use of spiral plating techniques in food microbiology and provides standardised procedures for their use.

Many spiral plating processes cannot be calibrated but with the WASP Touch, users can calibrate the delivery of the sample. There is also the option to include a bar code scanner. Traceability is facilitated with the inclusion of the Data Handling package for WASP Touch. This option records date, time, user, plate id, volume, date and at which volumes, date of the last start and finish position check, and date the last dye plate was performed. It also provides multi-level PIN-code protection. Data can be downloaded via USB in a format that can be loaded directly into Excel. An Ethernet connection for data transfer/service support is also included.

When choosing a new spiral plater what features should a buyer be looking for?
An automated spiral plater is ideal for those who regularly need to plate samples with a microbial content greater than 1,000 CFU/ml. Buyers should look for a plater that is flexible enough to process their particular samples, in terms of quantity and type of sample. For example, WASP Touch offers an Extended Volume Package to enable a wider range of volumes on a plate. Buyers should also consider the level of after-sales service, maintenance and support offered by the manufacturer. If you are opting for an automated method to speed up your processes, the last thing you want is for there to be a problem that causes an unacceptable level of downtime.




If a lab is getting an in-house demo for a spiral plater do you have any recommendations for how to test it?
At Don Whitley, we feel that any test should be as realistic as possible so would always look to perform a demo or trial with the actual samples the laboratory uses. After working through a demonstration with the customer, we would ideally arrange for them to have a spiral plater for an extended trial. This helps them to make a more informed purchase decision.

DWS have recently introduced a next generation spiral plater, what issues does this model address?
The new WASP Touch spiral plater simply modernises the process of spiral plating. The user interface is now a touchscreen with easy-to-use icons. Other features such as FlowSense ensure that the sample is correctly processed, alerting the user to any issues in time for corrections to be made; and AIMS, the intuitive software that guides users through the set-up routine.

If a lab wanted to introduce the new DWS spiral plater, what validation steps would be needed (is that the same if they were introducing spiral plating for the first time or upgrading to the new DWS system)?
WASP Touch, and spiral platers in general, require minimal validation because spiral plating methodology has already been validated and published in the international standard ISO 4833-2:2013.  The ISO standard includes methods for calibration and validation of the sample volumes deposited onto an agar plate by a spiral plater.


To find out more about WASP Touch or other DWS products, please call +44 (0) 1274 595728 or email at

Scientist Working in Whitley Workstation

Practical & Clinical Microbiology of Anaerobes Course 2018

A 2 day residential course delivered by The UK Anaerobe Reference Unit, Public Health Wales, Cardiff

14-15 June 2018

Is it time to refresh your knowledge on the culturing, identification and clinical importance of anaerobes?

Are your staff wanting to learn from experts about the latest technologies and techniques?

• Recognised by the IBMS & RCPath CPD approved (11 credits)
• Invaluable preparation for FRCPath

Only 26 places available.

Cost: £375 + VAT (£355 + VAT for SAM members) which includes: one night accommodation at the Park Plaza Hotel, Cardiff, all meals and refreshments plus dinner on 14th June.

For more information please visit the Don Whitley Scientific website

To reserve your place on this course, please contact:
Deborah Robinson at Don Whitley Scientific Limited on 01274 595728/
Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.


PaCMan Course 2017




Biomedical Scientist_Clinical Microbiology of Anaerobes Course

Campylobactor Research with Microaerobic Workstations

The following words were provided by Microbiology International 

Cultivation of microaerophilic organisms from environmental niches such as Campylobacter species and Helicobacter pylori requires precise calibration of oxygen levels and other growth parameters. Microbiology International, North American distributor for Don Whitley Scientific, have been installing anaerobic and microaerobic incubation chambers for more than 20 years, and would like to introduce some of the research being carried out around the world. Click here to view our Microaerobic Workstations.

The complex interactions of microbial communities populating the human gastrointestinal tract with their host and with invading pathogens are paramount to safeguarding not only a healthy gut but also our general health. Microaerophilic bacterial species, such as Campylobacter jejuni, can cause gastro-enteric infections due to their ability to survive and grow in lower oxygen environments, which they encounter in the human gastro-intestinal tract. At the Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology, Dr. Alain Stintzi researches topics as diverse as iron homeostasis and oxidative stress and the competitive advantage of metabolizing L-Fucose in Campylobacter jejuni. Using a Don Whitley Scientific microaerobic workstation, Dr. Stinzi states that “One objective of our research is to understand how enteric pathogens such as Campylobacter jejuni acquire essential nutrients, adapt to the harsh conditions of the intestine and interact with the host’s microbiota to cause disease.”

At Ohio State University, Dr. Jeffrey Lejeune’s research is focused on prevention of diseases caused by food-borne pathogens in plants and animals, including C. jejuniE. coli O157, and Clostridium difficile. His work on antibiotic resistance in Campylobacter and other enteric pathogens has prompted the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation to recruit him to provide technical support and guidance in an international group working on antibiotic resistance. Don Whitley Scientific anaerobic and microaerobic workstations , sold in the US by Microbiology International, provide precise gas control for a sustainable low oxygen environment. Up to four gasses can be combined to create the ideal atmosphere for fastidious microorganisms.

In the UK, Dr. Andrew Grant at the University of Cambridge is investigating the Campylobacter jejuni secretome and diarrhoeal disease in a gnotobiotic piglet model, using the MACS VA500 and more recently, the M95 Microaerobic Workstation. His work to elucidate host-pathogen interaction and virulence strategies will yield new options for therapy and vaccination. Don Whitley Scientific will be there for him, and our other researchers, every step of the way.


From: Stahl et al. (2011) “L-fucose utilization provides Campylobacter jejuni with a competitive advantage“ Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Apr 26;108(17):7194-9

From: Stahl et al. (2011) “L-fucose utilization provides Campylobacter jejuni with a competitive advantage“ Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Apr 26;108(17):7194-9

From: Tang et al. (2017) “Rising fluoroquinolone resistance in Campylobacter isolated from feedlot cattle in the United States” Scientific Reports 7: 494

From: Tang et al. (2017) “Rising fluoroquinolone resistance in Campylobacter isolated from feedlot cattle in the United States” Scientific Reports 7: 494















Clostridium difficile studies can be done in a Whitley Workstation

Hallmarks of Cancer: Sustaining Growth and Resisting Cell Death

In part four of our mini-series describing “Hypoxia and the Hallmarks of Cancer”, we look more closely at how researchers are using the Hypoxystation to delineate the Hallmarks Sustaining Growth and Resisting Cell Death.







Resisting Cell Death

The ability of cells to resist cell death under hypoxic conditions is central to the progression of cancer and the acquisition of resistance to chemotherapy so frequently encountered in tumors. Hypoxia in the tumor microenvironment exerts selective pressure favoring cells that have lost the functionality of apoptosis genes and can expand uncontrollably.  Hypoxia also contributes to survival by inducing autophagy, in a pathway involving HIF-1, beclin, BNIP3 and BNIP3L, in which cellular autophagy acts to recycle cellular organelles, satisfy metabolic demand and improve hypoxic tolerance.  HIF-1 mediates cell-cycle retardation and arrest, causing hypoxic tumor cells to become resistant to radiotherapies. NF-κB, through its effects on myriad transcription factors, for example through inhibition of cell death signalling, is activated by hypoxia and reactive oxygen species, and also promotes cell survival.

Sustaining Growth

Cancer is essentially based on the cells’ inability to “stop” when suppressors signal an end to growth, and the compunction to “go” despite a lack of bonafide growth signals. Hypoxia in the context of cancer, in precipitating genomic instability and mutation, results in numerous inactive tumor suppressor genes and activated growth factor genes, such that the combination of constitutive proliferative signaling and mutated cancer genes leads to sustained growth. HIF and NF-κB regulated pathways involving Notch, mTOR, WNT11, CAIX, and IGF-1, among many others, contribute to sustained growth in cancer as regulation of proliferation derails. Induced by hypoxia-regulated proteins, anabolic pathways for nucleotide and lipid synthesis are ramped up and enable the rapid proliferation typical of cancer.







Rest Assured That Your Anaerobic Workstation is at Zero Oxygen

The following was written by Microbiology International, Don Whitley Scientific’s supplier of the Anaerobic Workstation in the US

Don Whitley Scientific have turned the maintenance and monitoring of stringent anaerobes in their anaerobic workstations into an art. The unique combination of anaerobic conditions monitoring (ACM) and catalyst monitoring available on the  A35, A45, A55, A85 and A95 workstations guarantees that strict anaerobes really will be well within their comfort zone. Microbiology International is the North American distributor for these anaerobic workstations.

The ACM comprises of an oxygen sensor placed inside the workstation and software to process real-time data on oxygen levels in the chamber. Based on knowledge of bacterial oxygen tolerance, results are shown on the touchscreen interface as a colour-coded indicator of O2 concentration. Green, yellow, or red status bars clearly indicate to the user whether oxygen levels are acceptable and provide information on the correct functioning of the workstation. This fully automated system replaces resazurin strips, which can dry out and are subject to interpretation based on the pink-to-white colour change.

The palladium catalyst used to remove traces of oxygen in the Don Whitley Scientific anaerobic workstations is protected through the addition of Anotox, which removes volatile organic compounds and hydrogen sulfide from the chamber atmosphere. Proper functioning of this vital system is monitored by the patented Catalyst Monitoring System, which tests the function of the catalyst overnight, and also confirms that the necessary hydrogen is present.

Together, the anaerobic conditions and catalyst monitoring systems provide unambiguous proof that anaerobiosis is being maintained in the workstations. The art of “zero oxygen” is critically important to cultivating anaerobic microorganisms that, due to their fastidious nature, are often classified as “unculturable“. Taking advantage of the closed workstation format to establish a strictly controlled anaerobic atmosphere, researchers are using Whitley Workstations to examine diverse topics such as the degradation of complex glycans by human gut microbiota;  the rise in C. difficile infections through lawn contamination; and the anaerobic etiology of brain abscesses.

The A35 Anaerobic Workstation will be on the Don Whitley Scientific stand at this years IBMS Congress in Birmingham




Hypoxia and the Hallmarks of Cancer: Angiogenesis and Metastasis

The following was provided by HypOxygen, our distributor of Hypoxic Workstations in the US

Hanahan and Weinberg’s “Hallmarks of Cancer” are at the root of the multi-step progression of cancer, and they are all influenced by hypoxia in the tumor microenvironment. In this mini-review series, HypOxygen has been taking a closer look at the way Hypoxystation users worldwide are delineating the effects of hypoxia on the Hallmarks of Cancer: so far, we’ve showcased Avoiding Immune Destruction and Tumor Promoting Inflammation and Genome Instability and Mutation and Enabling Replicative Immortality.

In the Hypoxystation, researchers working with cells in culture can mimic the physiological conditions that produce those characteristic Hallmarks. The Hypoxystation enables glove-less access to cultivate and manipulate cells under physiological conditions, in a HEPA-clean environment. Oxygen levels in the Hypoxystation can be reliably and accurately adjusted to below 1%, reflecting the high metabolism, low perfusion tumor microenvironment.




1. Inducing Angiogenesis

Angiogenesis and tumor-associated neo-vascularization are central to the progression of cancer, and hypoxia in the fast-growing, poorly perfused tumor setting is one of the main factors driving the formation of new vessels. Hypoxia in the tumor activates the hypoxia stress response, which is mediated at the cellular level by HIF, VEGF and many other cytokines, growth factors and guidance molecules. As a consequence, endothelial cells and pericytes proliferate and form new blood vessels, which are, however, disorderly and leaky, in turn exacerbating hypoxia in the tumor. Cancer treatment strategies striving to normalize tumor vessels for the purpose of improved drug delivery and alleviation of hypoxia in the tumor are showing great promise.


2. Activating Invasion and Metastasis

As with the other Hallmarks of Cancer, metastasis and cancer progression are correlated with low oxygen levels in the tumor. HIF’s activate the expression of more than 1000 genes, numerous of which play a role in inducing genes involved in the EMT, through direct interactions with HRE’s at promotor sites and other mechanisms such as epigenetic alterations, like methylation/demethylation. Hypoxia promotes migration and invasion by facilitating the endothelial-mesenchymal transition, altering cell-cell contacts, and reducing adhesion to the extra-cellular matrix. Cancer cells and neighboring cells such as fibroblasts are all influenced by hypoxia, and all contribute to the restructuring of the tumor microenvironment. The effects of the Hallmarks of Cancer continually perturb and promote each other, as when hypoxia-driven metabolic reprogramming causes acidification of the extracellular microenvironment through increased production and secretion of lactate, in turn augmenting ECM remodeling and immune evasion. Similarly, formation of novel blood vessels enables extravasation and migration of cancer cells to form new tumors.


bacr 2017 2

A Manic Month Continues for DWS

June continues to be busy for Don Whitley Scientific, with 6 exhibitions and events attended already. And we have two more to go!

In the month of June, we have attended several meetings and exhibitions that featured topics ranging from pathology, cancer research, LIMS systems and more. We helped to administer the 2017 Practical and Clinical Microbiology of Anaerobes Course, hosted by the UK Anaerobe Reference Unit, Cardiff. It was once again a fantastic success.

Next week (26th-28th June) DWS will be attending the Association for Radiation Research Annual Meeting, which this year focuses on the topic “Improving Radiotherapy Response through Radiation Research” featuring speakers from cancer research institutes from around the world. Don Whitley Scientific will have an exhibition stand at this meeting displaying the Whitley H45 Workstation. There will also be an interactive touchscreen presentation, which allows users to explore the full range of Whitley Workstations.

On 4th July we will also have an exhibition stand at the Society for Applied Microbiology Annual Applied Microbiology Conference at the BALTIC Centre in Gateshead. This meeting will focus on new insights into food safety. Here we will exhibit the ProtoCOL and WASP Touch, two products that provide real benefits in food microbiology applications.



Busy June for Don Whitley Scientific

Don Whitley Scientific have a busy month in June with several exhibitions and events around the UK. Here’s a rundown on where you might see us and the equipment that we’ll be showing at these events.

Rapid Micro Methods – Campden BRI – 8th June – More info
The first meeting in June that Don Whitley Scientific will attend is the Rapid Micro Methods meeting at Campden BRI. This meeting features talks that cover rapid methods, automation and miniaturisation in microbiology. Don Whitley Scientific will be exhibiting a WASP Touch, ProtoCOL3 Plus and Masterclave 20.


Welsh Microbiology Association Summer Meeting – Village Hotel, Swansea – 9th June – More info
This one day event gathers some of the most important figures working in Welsh microbiology. Don Whitley Scientific will be exhibiting a WASP Touch and ProtoCOL3 at the event.

BACR Tumour Microenvironment – Nottingham Conference Centre – 14th-16th June – More info
This meeting aims to highlight the latest advances in this field from basic science to clinical development and to provide a workshop forum for researchers to discuss recent developments in 3D cancer modelling. Don Whitley Scientific will be exhibiting a Whitley H35 Hypoxystation at this meeting, a market leading workstation for working with cancer cells in a physiologically relevant atmosphere.

Clinisys Summer Conference – The Belfry, Birmingham – 14th-16th June –  More info
The CliniSys Summer  Conference and user group meeting will once again be hosted at The Belfry on the 15th & 16th June. More than 250 delegates are expected to attend to hear thought-provoking presentations and discussions with some of the key innovators and thought leaders in healthcare and laboratory medicine. Don Whitley Scientific will be exhibiting a Chromazona on their stand, as well as an interactive display featuring all Don Whitley Scientific Workstations

Association for Radiation Research 2017 – St Hilda’s College, Oxford – 27th-28th June – More info
This year’s ARR meeting will be focusing on “Improving radiotherapy response through radiation research”.  The meeting programme features talks from academics from around the world, speaking on subjects relevant to radiotherapy and radiation. Don Whitley Scientific will have a Whitley H35 Hypoxystation on show at this event.