What is flow cytometry?


Breaking down the name, flow cytometry is essentially the study of cells (“cytometry”) in fluid (“flow”). Flow cytometry allows for multi-parametric analysis of the physical and chemical characteristics of cells at a high rate (over a thousand cells/second).

It is a widely used to technique to study many aspects of cell biology and is routinely used in the diagnosis of disease (especially blood cancers) and in basic and clinical research. While flow cytometry has been a corner stone of immune research for decades, it has applications in a number of fields including pathology, molecular biology, medicine, microbiology, plant biology, marine biology, and nanotechnology.

Flow-Cytometry-how it works-Diagramflow-cytometry_500

As cells pass through a flow cell, they are excited by lasers, allowing measurement of cell size and internal complexity, as well as detection of fluorescent antibodies or stains on the cell. This allows users to assess a broad range of cellular characteristics, including expression of cell surface and intracellular molecules, characterizing heterogeneous cell populations, assessing the purity of populations, and analyzing cell viability. For a longer list of applications, click here


Facility Overview

The Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry Flow Cytometry Facility is a multi-user facility at the University of Alberta. Originally established in 1981, it provides a variety of high quality services for internal and private sector investigators.  Today the facility houses 9 instruments (3 FACSArias, FACSCanto II, 3 LSR-Fortessas, an Attune NxT, and an Amnis ImageStream mkII) that offer state-of-the-art analytical flow cytometry, cell sorting, and data analysis.

The Facility operates on a fee-for-use basis, which allows partial cost recovery for operating expenses and service contracts for the instruments.  A major portion of Facility operating costs are provided through financial support from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) awards to contributing investigators. User fees are used to cover the cost of supplies and partially cover service contracts and maintenance.


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