Friday, May 30, 2008

University of Chicago Cancer Research Center achieves Comprehensive Status

For those of you who are not aware of the University of Chicago Cancer Research Center (UCCRC) on campus, I'll share a bit of good news. First of all, the Cancer Research Center Support Grant has been renewed for 5 years, and secondly, the UCCRC has achieved Comprehensive status. This is sort of a big deal, considering in the entire country, there are only 41 Comprehensive Cancer Research Centers, and in Illinois, there are only 2 (the other one being the purple people downtown). Being a Comprehensive Cancer Research Center basically means we've got really great researchers and support staff working on attacking malignant diseases, or as the NCI likes to say, "Comprehensive Cancer Research Centers are characterized by scientific excellence and the capability to integrate a diversity of research approaches to focus on the problem of cancer."

So, what does all this have to do with flow cytometry? Well, a big part of the UCCRC grant was the availability and access UCCRC members have in terms cutting-edge technology and technical expertise. A big chunk of the funding goes towards operational costs of core facilities and subsidized usage fees for member investigators. The flow cytometry facility, having a large number of cancer research investigators has been the recipient of such funding for over a decade. Over 90% of the usage of the facility is performed by members of the UCCRC, so we are very much an integral part of the UCCRC and its newly achieved Comprehensive status. More info on the UCCRC can be found online at or if you'd like more info on the NCI Cancer Research Center Program, you can visit Congratulations to all involved!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ISAC Wrap-up Part 2

Along the same vein as the previous post, the Education committee presented an outline of their plans to bring flow cytometry education to the general scientific public. In an attempt to standardize the information being presented to users of flow cytometry, the Education committee has decided to generate a basic flow cytometry course aimed at flow novices. The course would initially be offered as a tutorial tacked on to the front end of other disciplines' meetings, who have used flow cytometry in the past. From there, plans to make it available as an online course administered through ISAC were discussed. Lastly, it was proposed that this course become the template for training used by core facility directors in training their user base. The Education committee still seems to be developing these ideas and reworking their strategies, so it may be awhile yet until we see anything concrete. Don't know yet if there will be an official "accreditation" process for this type of course, but if and when it's possible, we'll be sure to take a good look at the material to see how we can integrate it into our educational process.

Friday, May 23, 2008

ISAC Wrap-up Part 1

Planning to submit a paper to J. Exp. Med. anytime soon? Well then you'll want to pay attention to the new guidelines generated by the Data Presentation Standards Committee and adopted by J. Exp. Med. What the cytometry field has been noticing for quite a while is the amount of publications in high-end journals with really poor flow cytometry figures. It's not that the data is bad, or doesn't support the authors conclusions, it's just that the figure is annotated so poorly, and the methods written so vaguely that it's nearly impossible for anyone to try and repeat complicated analyses. Being the premier flow cytometry authority, ISAC has taken it upon itself to lay down some guidelines to assist authors in properly presenting the necessary information to describe their flow cytometric data. A member of the Data Standards Committee, Dr. Mario Roederer, shared the conclusions of the committee this week at the ISAC Congress. Here are a few examples from the guidelines. Once a comprehensive list is created, I'll post them for the group to see.

Author must list the instrument(s) used, the laser(s) used for excitation, and the filter(s) used for emission. This will be done in an excel template that will be available from ISAC or J. Exp. Med.

Axis on plots must have the reagent and fluorescence labelled (ex. CD3-FITC).

The number of events in a plot must be displayed in the plot or figure legend.

The frequency of populations must be displayed on the plot or in a table

Graph-types should be used consistently throughout.

You MUST show the entire gating tree for your figure as an example. Back-gating analysis is the best way to show this. This can (and probably should) be in the supplemental data portion of the manuscript.

You must also state how you drew your gates. For example, did you draw them based on unstained cells, or an isotype control, or and FMO control, or did you just subjectively draw it around a population.

These are a few of the guidelines that will be implemented soon. J. Exp. Med. has decided to adopt them sooner rather than later, but we anticipate more and more journals will begin to require this information. If you have any questions, or need help filling in the appropriate information, the flow can certainly help. We will try to provide filled out examples for each of the instruments so that you can simply modify them for your use. We'll provide more info as it becomes available.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Greetings from Budapest

This year's ISAC meeting, held in Budapest, Hungary is well under way. I'll post some interesting tidbits of info as the meeting progresses. One interesting tidbit is that ISAC has changed it's name effective immediately. It will still retain the acronym ISAC, but the last two letters have been slightly modified. Previously, we were known as the International Society for Analytical Cytology. That name, analytical cytology, doesn't really fit with what the society does, so it was voted on and it was decided the new name will be "International Society for Advancement of Cytometry" Cytometry is what we do, that is, measure cells. Also, our goal is to advance the field of cytometry, so the name makes much more sense. More later.