The mission of the Masonic Cancer Center (MCC) Flow Cytometry Shared Resource (FCSR) is to provide comprehensive state-of-the-art services and training in all aspects of flow cytometry to MCC personnel in a cost-effective manner. The FCSR has facilities in both the Masonic Cancer Research Building (MCRB) and the Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Building (CCRB). Several years ago, the FCSR was one of several independent flow cytometry facilities in the Academic Health Center (AHC) at the University of Minnesota; each was administered by a separate Center, Department, or Institute. The directors of these facilities and AHC leadership decided to merge the flow cytometry facilities under one administrative umbrella with centralized financial support from the AHC. This new University Flow Cytometry Resource (UFCR) provided an economy of scale, more funds to purchase equipment, and uniformity of support among the AHC centers and institutes that require flow cytometry equipment and expertise. It also allowed MCC researchers not housed in MCRB or CCRB to access flow cytometry facilities other than FCSR and still receive an MCC subsidy for equipment use. The FCSR is the largest of the 4 members in the UFCR consortium in terms of usage (approximately 80% of billed hours) and instrumentation (7 of 10 flow cytometers, 2 of 3 cell sorters, and 2 of 2 data analysis work stations). The FCSR Director of Daily Operations is Mr. Paul Champoux; he is supported by 3 full-time personnel, AHC administration, and a 5-member Board of Scientific Directors. Dr. Christopher Pennell serves on this Board as the Scientific Director of Flow Cytometry for MCC. He has oversight for all cancer-related projects that use FCSR, and decisions regarding FCSR or any of the other 3 UFCR members requires Dr. Pennell's agreement; this ensures that FCSR, and UFCR as a whole, meet the flow cytometry needs of MCC researchers. The FCSR regularly partners with industry leaders to test and adopt new flow cytometry technologies, keeping it at the cutting-edge of flow cytometry. As a result, the FCSR has had instrumentation retrofitted with new technologies prior to commercial availability. These advancements have benefitted customers and provided tools for the faculty to remain competitive with their peers, all at very low expense.
The specific aims for the next 5 years are to 1) provide MCC researchers with 24/7 access to advanced flow cytometric instruments; 2) aid MCC researchers in the design of flow cytometry experiments, data acquisition, and data interpretation; 3) educate MCC researchers regarding the principles of flow cytometry and train users on self-service analyzers; 4) beta-test new reagents and equipment and continually upgrade equipment; and 5) share cutting-edge advancements in flow cytometry with MCC researchers.
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