Having access to modern equipment and precision instruments is key to a successful faculty which strives to be at the pinnacle of medical research and education.

As part of the Faculty of Medicine’s TRANSFoM programme, the Infrastructure workstream has been brought together to look at how core facilities can be improved and made available for everyone across the Faculty.

The new Flow Cytometry Core Facility is one example of a cross-school resource, available to staff and students, as well as commercially to external users.

Flow Cytometry is a powerful technique which can quickly analyse and sort millions of cells as they pass in single file past a range of lasers. This allows scientists to determine different cell populations within a sample and analyse the characteristics of these cells to gain vital information on how cell numbers and types may change and evolve in different diseases.

The core facility is managed by Dr Carolann McGuire, a flow cytometry technical specialist with 16 years’ experience who provides supported access to people who use the facility.

“I joined the University of Southampton in 1999 as a Research Fellow in the Dermatopharmacology Unit, where I gained valuable experience of Flow Cytometry using the two machines in the then School of Medicine,” says Carolann.

“When we got our first cell sorter in 2005, a BD FACS Aria which is still in use today, I took over responsibility for looking after the machines while continuing to work as a laboratory manager within the school of Clinical and Experimental Sciences.”

Carolann was appointed Technical Manager of the newly formed core facility in April last year and is now responsible for running the facility and ensuring the machines are kept in good working order through ongoing maintenance contracts.

“We have 7 machines that users can access in the facility. Four analysers which can detect up to 13 parameters, and three cell sorters detecting up to 16 parameters, and the Facility is open to scientists from the University of Southampton as well as external users.”

“As well as providing access for experienced FACS users, I can also offer fully assisted support to those who are new and inexperienced in flowcytometry. I can also advise on optimal panel design, troubleshoot experimental issues, and assist with data analysis.”

A paper published in Nature Communications in January 2020 by research fellow Dr Sofia Sirvent and the Polak group showed the importance of flow cytometry to their work. The group analysed immune cells in the skin and, using flow cytometry, were able to show how the function of Langerhans cells is regulated to enable the activation of immune responses. These findings are helping increase understanding of how immunity and inflammation is regulated in the skin.

Meanwhile, the Southampton Flow Cytometry Core Facility also played an instrumental part in the work of postgraduate researcher Dr Andrew Chancellor and the Mansour group in their research into the activation and responses of a type of immune cell called a GEM T cell in tuberculosis. The findings of this research have significant implications for the design of future tuberculosis vaccines that target these GEM T cells.

Professor Edd James is leading the Infrastructure workstream for the Faculty’s TRANSFoM project.

“The remit of the Infrastructure workstream is to identify the different core facilities across the Faculty and the services they offer, and to bring these together in a collaborative way to enhance the scale and delivery of these services. The Flow Cytometry facility is a great example of how equipment and resources can be shared and used across the Faculty to support research, education, and enterprise.”

The Flow Cytometry Core Facility is located within Southampton General Hospital.

Read more on the Mansour group’s work here – https://www.pnas.org/content/114/51/E10956

Going with the flow: How scientific infrastructure is a key to TRANSFoM-ation

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.