We experimentally and theoretically demonstrate the proof-of-principle of a new lens-free cell monitoring platform that involves using an opto-electronic sensor array to record the shadow image of cells onto the sensor plane. This technology can monitor/count cells over a field-of-view that is more than two orders of magnitude larger than that of a conventional light microscope. Furthermore, it does not require any mechanical scanning or optical elements, such as microscope objectives or lenses. We also show that this optical approach can conveniently be combined with microfluidic channels, enabling parallel on-chip monitoring of various different cell types, e.g., blood cells, NIH-3T3 fibroblasts, murine embryonic stem cells, AML-12 hepatocytes. An important application of this approach could be a miniaturized point-of-care technology to obtain CD4 T lymphocyte counts of HIV infected patients in resource limited settings.