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    Top 10 Flow Cytometry Resources

    I’ve been in the world of flow cytometry and cell sorting for a very long time. Now, don’t worry, this isn’t going to be some lament about the “good old days.” Well, maybe just a little. But there will be helpful takeaways, I promise.

    I was trained by the incredible staff in the core facility at the University of Arizona. When I moved to UC Davis and proceeded to start up a core facility, there were very few resources to guide me. No Google communities and LinkedIn groups. Email was new, there was the Purdue Cytometry List, but that was about it. 

    You certainly couldn’t get a degree in flow, and other than the annual course that alternates between Bowdoin and now Albuquerque, there were very few courses in flow. Even the publications were few. For example, I made the following simple graph of publications mentioning flow cytometry by year:

    Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 10.49.37 AMRead More

    4 Fluidics Tips That Will Change Your Flow Data For The Better

    Friday is the 4th of July in the US – and we celebrate that day with picnics, spending time OUTSIDE the lab and fireworks. And our Independence, but I’m not up for a political discussion right now. For flow geeks, fireworks are like flow cytometry – they happen in the dark, they are full of many bright colors, and we’re all looking for the patterns the colors make. So in honor of a day outside the lab, it seemed appropriate to talk about fluidics… going with the flow for best results.

    A flow cytometer has three major components – fluidics, electronics and optics. From setting the run speed (‘flow rate’), to cleaning the instrument after a run, to changing the sheath fluids, the typical researcher interacts mainly with the fluidics side of the system.

    The majority of flow cytometers on the market use a differential pressure to move the fluids and cells around the system. In these systems, the pressure of the sheath fluid sets the speed of the flow. The low, medium and high buttons on the instrument change the differential pressure between... Read More

    Counting Cells Will Save Your Flow Cytometry Experiment, If You Do It Like This

    Fast, accurate or efficient – pick two. How to decide when you can’t have it all.

    The hemocytometer is considered the gold standard for cell counting. Invented by Louis Charles Malassez, this precision etched microscope slide can allow the researcher to count their cells under the microscope with amazing accuracy. It is inexpensive, relative to other methods, but is by no means the most efficient or fast method out there.

    Counting 1

    The single biggest key to using a hemocytometer is training, training and more training. Since the investigator is visually inspecting the cells within a boundary, the rules of what cells to count and what to exclude on those boundaries becomes critical.

    If counting more than one sample, proper cleaning of the hemocytometer is a second critical step. If the cleaning solution is not removed completely, it can cause cell lysis... Read More

    Top Flow Cytometer

    What is the top flow cytometer? The easy answer is the flow cytometer that matches your needs and fits within your budget. However, before running off to spend cash, consider the following.

    What are the current needs of the users? Evaluating the users needs will help define the parameters needed for the flow cytometer. This will include what excitation sources should be available, how many detectors are needed, including specialized detectors (small particle detectors), as the need for automatic sampling. All these factors will in weigh in on the

    What are the projected future needs of the users? This is where the crystal ball comes out. Predicting what the future needs of the userbase is a difficult task. The best thing is to evaluate if the cytometer of interest is future proof? That is can it be expanded in capacity and capabilities as the research needs change.

    Will the instrument be needed for clinical samples? This... Read More

    Flow Cytometry Education

    As with all complex technology there are many different levels of education that users should avail themselves of.

    Basic instrument operation – this level of education is akin to learning how to drive a car.  At this level, the focus will be on how to put the sample on the instrument, how to adjust voltage and collect data.  Specific policies of the facility should also be covered.

    Advanced instrument operation – at this level of education, the focus should be on advanced techniques on the instrument.  This would cover basic troubleshooting – identifying problems and how to solve them.  Advanced training should prepare the investigator to independently operate the instrument when the staff are not around.

    Data analysis – in parallel with learning how to operate an instrument to acquire data, learning the software to analyze the data is essential.  This software specific training should... Read More

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