Flow Cytometry FAQs

General Questions
How must samples be prepared?
The Flow Cytometry Core does not perform sample staining or other sample preparation services. Samples must be delivered to the core in machine-ready condition. If you have questions about sample tube or media selection, please contact the core staff.
Must samples be filtered prior to running on the core instrumentation?
Flow cytometry depends on single cells, flowing smoothly through the laser interrogation point. If cells are aggregating, this will perturb this flow and, in many instances, block the flow cell resulting in loss of data. Any samples showing evidence of aggregation, must be filtered (~40um filter size recommended) prior to use on the instrumentation.
Do you archive data, and how can I access old data?
The core does, indeed, archive all data for a period of ten years. However, the safest data is always the data that is already in your own hands. Media becomes obsolete, servers crash and hard drives die. While the core makes every effort to ensure zero data loss, it can happen, it is recommended that all users bring along a drive with their samples in order to capture a copy of the raw data.
Does the core provide Flow Cytometry Software?
Users have two options to purchase software licenses:

  1. FCS Express annual licenses can be purchased directly from the core.  This software may be installed on all of the lab computers with a single concurrent user.
  2. FlowJo annual licenses can be purchased through the University. However, the core is not directly involved in their sale or distribution.  The software license is limited to a single CPU.
Must I schedule an appointment to use Core services?
Yes. The core usually operates with a full-schedule, and experiments are scheduled back-to back. There is no open space currently reserved for Walk-in experiments.
I have a last minute experiment with unexpected samples; can I get them run?
Maybe. While we require an appointment, we realize in science, things can come up unexpectedly. You can always call the lab, and if we can squeeze them in, we will be happy to do so.
Can I have all of my experiments run by the same operator?
No. Eventually, that operator will go on vacation, be sick or leave the core. Then you will be left without anyone to run your work. We train all core staff to be able to run and produce equivalent data.
Can I have all of my experiments run on the same instrument?
You can, and in some cases, there are good reasons to do so. However, be aware that singling out a specific instrument to run your experiments will not grant you any priority on the instrument and will likely result in scheduling delays.
Can I make scheduling requests via email?
No. Under no circumstances will we accept scheduling requests via email.
Does the core offer online scheduling?
Yes, please login to your MiCores account at umich.corefacilities.org (iLab Solutions).
How can I gain access to the core resources after hours and on weekends?
Please contact David Adams directly for access requirements as they vary by location.


Does the Flow Core offer training on instrumentation?
Yes. The core offers a mandatory monthly training seminar for users wishing to learn to use the core’s equipment. After attending the (no-cost) seminar, the users will be scheduled for hands-on training on the appropriate instrumentation. Hands-on training is done individually, and we will not train multiple users at the same time. As a courtesy, the core will train one user from any given lab at no cost. Additional users are trained at the standard rate for the time used.
I've been doing flow for years, do I really need to attend the seminar?
Do you offer training for both analyzers and sorters?
Yes. However, we are very protective of our sorters, and if we do not feel that you are developing the proper skills, you will not be allowed to use them.
I was trained on the FACSCalibur for free. Do I have to pay for training on additional platforms?
Yes. While you do not have to attend the seminar again, training still involves use of core instrumentation and staff and will be billed at the regular hourly rates.
Do you offer training on Flow Cytometry Software?
Not formally, no. However, if the staff is familiar with the piece of software in question, we will be happy to answer any questions we can.

Also, TreeStar offers an annual FlowJo training seminar on campus.



The core contains multiple sorter platforms. Which sorter is best?
None of them. Each platform offers its own unique advantages and disadvantages, but for the most part, you should consider them equivalent. The core works hard to ensure that all the equipment operates according to spec and provides identical data. In cases where an experiment would benefit from the abilities of one platform over another, we will advise the user and schedule accordingly.
Okay. So which is your favorite sorter?
Whichever one your cells are running on. Seriously, we will always schedule your experiment on an appropriate machine. Whether the operator prefers platform X or Y will not affect the results of the work in any way. If you are looking to purchase a flow cytometer, and you want some advice on choosing the appropriate platform, you may speak to the core manager directly.
I've thought of a completely novel way to use flow cytometry. Can the core help me?
We like to think that if it can be done on a flow cytometer, we will get it done on a flow cytometer. With that in mind, we will be happy to discuss any experiments which you would like to perform. If it is necessary to purchase additional equipment which is not likely to benefit the entire user base, we will pass that cost on to you.
I'd like to run fluorochrome x or novel fluorescent protein y. Can you purchase a new laser to allow me to do so?
Lasers cost many thousands of dollars, and the core can not afford to purchase new lasers for a single user. However, if you have an interest in a new excitation source, please speak to the core staff as it may be one we’re already considering, or we may have another option for you to consider.
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