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 cover the basics of how to import data, how to generate figures and extract meaningful data.
Experimental design – having mastered the basics of flow cytometry, training in advanced techniques such as experimental design are important. For example, moving from a four to six color panel to a ten to twelve panel requires extra consideration and planning. Courses that cover the topics such as controls, compensation and experimental design are good to expand the cytometrists knowledge base.
Specific technique training – Moving beyond a phenotyping experiment, there are a host of specific techniques that advanced training can be useful. DNA cell cycle analysis, for example, requires specific experience in how to properly fix and stain cells, as well as how to perform the analysis. Proliferation and kinetic analysis are two other specialized techniques that having education into the details is helpful.
Where can this education be found? Start with the local core facility and learn what training they provide. Also ask about what other resources they would recommend. Vendor webinars and on-site lectures can provide additional opportunities. Vendors also offer instrument specific training as well. Cytometry societies such as ISAC, iCCS, ESCCA and others often have courses that can provide additional educational opportunities. Of course, Expert Cytometry can offer training at the group or individual level as well. Sign up for our newsletter to learn more.
My other passions include grilling, wine tasting, and real food. To be honest, my biggest passion is flow cytometry, which is something that Carol and I share. My personal mission is to make flow cytometry education accessible, relevant, and fun. I’ve had a long history in the field starting all the way back in graduate school.
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