For high-throughput screening of drug effects on excitability, disease-in-a-dish modeling, and other applications


The Hope Center Maestro MEA system from Axion Biosystems is available to Hope Center laboratories as well as the broader Washington University community.  For those outside of WashU, please contact the Tissue Culture Support Center (TCSC) to inquire about access.


Tissue Culture Support Center (TCSC)
Biotechnology Building, Room G35

Access and reserve time

Specifications: Maestro, Multiwell, 768-channel MEA system with USB interface including stimulation/recording device, data acquisition system, temperature control, ECmini, desktop computer, monitor, and AxIS software for acquisition and analysis. Accommodates 12, 48, and 96-well, SLAS-compliant plates.

How to access

First time user? A training session is required.  To schedule a training session, please contact the TCSC.

Already received training? Users must sign up in advance to reserve time on the device.  There is a 30-minute minimum.  To reserve time, please follow instructions in the box on the right.  If any questions or difficulty in reserving time, contact the TCSC.

Note re plates: Users are responsible to acquire their own plates.  Plates are available from Axion Biosystems.  NOTE: Users are highly advised to check with a representative at Axion to determine which plates are appropriate given experimental design and this equipment.  Plates are NOT available through the TCSC.

Reserve MEA time via Outlook

In your WashU Outlook account:

  • Open Calendar
  • Click “New Meeting”
  • “To”: copy/paste TCSC email:
  • “Subject”: type MEA-Your lab name
  • Choose date, and start/end times. (Note minimum reservation is 30 minutes.)
  • Check “Suggested times” in bottom right of meeting window to see if the MEA is available.
  • In text box, enter appropriate fund number for billing
  • Click send

User fees

Training: The fee for training is $35.  Members of a single lab are welcome to attend a training session.  However, if lab members require training on different dates/times, these will be charged separately.

Usage: The fee for MEA use is $25 for 30 minutes, and includes set-up and clean-up time.  PLEASE NOTE, there is no Hope center subsidy for MEA user fees.

New users: To allow new users an opportunity to figure out if the MEA device is useful for their experiments, there is a reduced rate within the first week of use, up to 5 hours total within that week.  This “new user” rate is $12.50/30 minutes, and can apply only once to each laboratory.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I’m not a Hope Center member or in a Hope Center member lab.  Can I use this device?
    • Yes, the MEA device is open to those outside the Hope Center.
  • Where is the MEA device?
    • The MEA device is located in the TCSC (Biotech Building, G35).
  • What types of cells can I record from?
    • The device is appropriate for dissociated cultures of excitable cells (e.g., rodent neurons, human induced neurons, cardiac myocytes, and smooth muscle cells). Contact Axion for advice on cell-specific issues.
  • I only need to record for 5 minutes.  Can I be billed for a prorated time?
    • While actual recording may take only 5 minutes, additional time is required for set-up and clean-up.  The shortest billable unit is 30 minutes.
  • I reserved time and it was confirmed, but now I need to cancel.
    • In your Outlook account, open (click on) the reserved time, and then “cancel” event.  The TCSC will automatically be notified.  Note that, if a reservation is not cancelled, the user fee will be applied based on reservation time.
  • My experiment requires that I record multiple times throughout the day.  Can I reserve the machine for the full day?
    • Please reserve the machine only for those times that you actually will need to set-up and record, noting the 30-minute minimum for each.  This will allow others to use the equipment during your off-times.
  • Where can I purchase plates?
    • Plates can be ordered from Axion Biosystems and typically arrive within one week.  Please work with a rep at Axion to ensure that you are purchasing plates that will work best for your experiments, and work on our system. Software settings must be adjusted for each plate type.
  • What if I’m unsure whether the MEA device is useful for me?
    • After training (required), there is a reduced rate while you try out the system.  This “new user” fee is $12.50/30 minutes, up to 5 hours in a single week.  After that, the fee goes to the regular rate, i.e., $25/30 minutes.
  • Is software available for data analysis?
    • Yes. For neural and cardiac data, a separate Data Analysis Software and instruction manual are included. These can be installed offsite. If another software is preferred, raw files can be converted to CSV files using the Data Exporter Tool, allowing you to convert data to be read elsewhere.
  • How is data storage handled?
    • A user supplied external hard drive is best. Be aware that large storage capacity is required.
  • Who should I contact if I have additional questions?
    • For inquiries about the MEA device, contact the TCSC.

ICTS funding option

Hope Center Core users may be eligible to apply for a Just-in-Time (JIT) award from the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS). Faculty members without established funding for their projects are encouraged to apply for JIT funding through the ICTS. Visit the ICTS JIT webpage for additional details.