An automated assay system is described with stations for placement of materials to be used in an assay of materials inside capillaries and an automated gripper for manipulating capillaries. The system includes a separation and immobilization station where reactions inside the capillaries take place and a detector station where photoemissions from the capillary reactions are detected. The photoemissions from the capillaries may be displayed as line graphs or in columns of a pseudo-gel image resembling the familiar Western gel blot. An automated control system has a user interface by which an operator can select a run protocol and define the locations of samples and reagents to be used in the protocol run. Following the setup the control system will cause the automated system to execute the protocol, then display the results in a selected display format.