The Flow Cytometry Core Facility is a resource for numerous investigators.

To help us maintain the flow cytometry laboratory functionality and performance at its best, we ask that you read and follow our guidelines.

As with all laboratories, eating and drinking is not allowed in the facility.

If you have questions or requests, please email hharris@rvc.ac.uk.

General rules and guidance for self-service instruments - LSRFortessa™ X-20

  • Before first use of any core laboratory services users must complete an application and register by forwarding the application to hharris@rvc.ac.uk
  • Complete training to competent standard - minimum one assisted training session and one solo attempt.
  • No samples above a Biosafety Level of 2 can be analysed or sorted in the RVC Flow Cytometry Core Facility. Users that wish to run samples containing any agents above Biological Safety Level 2 must fix the samples to inactivate the infectious agent and contact the RVC Flow Cytometry Core Facility (hharris@rvc.ac.uk) before the first run of any such sample material. Failure to do so will result in immediate termination of all access rights
  • All samples must be brought to the laboratory in a secondary containment with securely fitted lid
  • Due to limited capacity the flow cytometry laboratory cannot refrigerate/freeze user samples for longer than the stay in the laboratory
  • The flow cytometry core does not provide standard consumables such as FACS tubes, antibodies, 96 well plates etc., these are to be brought by the user
  • Self-service instruments are available during normal working hours to internal users except during maintenance and repair periods. Users found to gain access out of normal working hours or on colleagues’ ID cards will have their access rights suspended until this situation is corrected and their PI will be notified
  • Data acquisition is performed by trained researchers themselves unless flow cytometry laboratory personnel assistance is requested. This service must be booked in advance by emailing hharris@rvc.ac.uk and incurs additional charges.
  • To book instrument time or services, please use the online SharePoint booking system. For any issues with this please contact hharris@rvc.ac.uk, please DO NOT request colleagues book time for you, these requests will be ignored as we need an audit trail of all requests
  • The experiments are scheduled on a first-booked-first-served basis
  • You may schedule in 15 minute increments and generally should not book more than 4 hours at a time during prime usage time (weekdays: 12 noon to 8 pm). Our RVC internal researchers will have priority access to the instrumentation. No single user can book more than 8 hours of prime time usage per week. Please discuss exceptional booking needs exceeding this limit in advance with the Flow Cytometry Core Facility Manager: hharris@rvc.ac.uk
  • Users who do not arrive within 30 minutes of their start time forfeit the booking. Anyone that makes use of the cytometers after this 30-minute grace period and may not be asked to leave
  • Users who book a timeslot they are unable to use must delete their booking from the calendar no later than 2 hours before the appointment. After this deadline, the scheduled time will be billed in full even if the researcher does not use the instrument
  • The flow cytometry laboratory staff reserve the right to review the time scheduled for an experiment with the user to avoid unnecessary blocking of the instruments
  • The last booked user of the day on any instrument is responsible to shut it down, please check the calendar. This also applies when users book, but then not use the instrument in the end.
  • During acquisition, the data files can be on the computer attached to the instrument. After completion of the experiment, all your files should be moved out immediately to the FACS data transfer server.
  • Users are responsible for performing QCs the instruments on a daily basis. CS&T must be performed by the first user each week. Thereafter 8 peak beads must be recorded for tractability, recorded by each user as evidence of the equipment performance on day of use.
  • Flow cytometry laboratory staff are not responsible for data files left on facility computers nor for long term storage of user data. Files left on the hard disk will be removed during regular monthly database maintenance without further notification
  • Flow Cytometry staff are not responsible for the security of user data on the FACS data transfer drive, which is not setup as long term storage device. Users must download and safely store their data onto devices within their own research groups.
  • The use of USB sticks and external hard drives for data transfer as well as using internet browsers on the instrument workstations is not allowed to reduce the risk of virus infections. Users must use the network server for data transfer as instructed during training
  • Users are responsible to pay the fees for all services as agreed upon signup. If payment is outstanding for more than 45 days, the user account will be suspended until payment is received in full.
  • Users must inform the core facility in writing two month before any grant code expires and provide a new valid funding source.
  • Users must notify the core facility prior to changing their lab affiliation as this must be amended to ensure correct invoicing.

General rules and guidance for facility operated services - FACS AriaFusion™

  • Cell sorters setup are facility operated only. If an instrument breaks down, users will be notified immediately via email. All instruments are under service contract and will be repaired as soon as possible.
  • Access to the Fusion sorter for self service is restricted to advanced users that have a certificate of participation in an official Fusion operator training course. The facility only operated instrument is available during regular business hours Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
  • To book time on facility operated platforms, please e mail hharris@rvc.ac.uk. Upon reviewing your request your booking will be confirmed or rejected. You will receive a notification via e mail.
  • Before any first time run of an operator-run service please schedule a consultation session and contact us via hharris@rvc.ac.uk.
  • No single user can book more than 10 hours of total sort time per week as we strive to offer equal access for all. Should you not be able to schedule a sort at the desired time, we will offer you an alternative slot/discuss the best options.
  • To cancel a sort please submit a sort cancellation e mail to hharris@rvc.ac.uk 72 hours (three days) in advance otherwise you will be charged, unless the facility can fill the vacancy with another sort. Users will be informed if we could fill the opening.
  • If an instrument breaks down, no charges will be raised for any sorts that cannot be done though we will always strive to allocate slots on any of the other instruments
  • All users must fill up the sheath tank and empty the waste tank, and occasionally top up the 70% ethanol tank at the end of each use.
  • All sorters use sterile 1XPBS as sheath fluid. Users can request a different sheath fluid if their cell type should require this. The user will supply a minimum of 5L of alternative sterile sheath fluid at least 2 days in advance of their sort. A change of sheath fluid incurs an additional fee of £150 to cover the time for the special setup
  • Users working with clinical samples with sometimes unpredictable schedule are urged to discuss their needs with the Flow Cytometry Core Facility Manager hharris@rvc.ac.uk – before the start of their project as we do not have after hour staffing at this time.
  • Users are responsible to pay the fees for all services as agreed upon signup. If payment is outstanding for more than 45 days, the user account will be suspended until payment is received in full.
  • Users must inform the core facility in writing two month before any grant code expires and provide a new valid funding source.
  • Users must notify the core facility prior to changing their lab affiliation as this must be amended to ensure correct invoicing.

Standard maintenance by users

  • Users must run cleaning tubes at the beginning and end of their experiment. Detailed instructions require recording in the appropriate FACS logbook. Users that are repeatedly found not following cleaning procedures may have their access rights suspended for a period of time. The core reserves the right to charge £50 for cleaning an instrument if we find it dirty for the next person using the platform.
  • During regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5pm) users must check for any other bookings and set instruments on standby when they are finished with their run if other users are booked on.
  • After-hours and on weekends users must shut down the fluidics and turn the instruments off when they have finished cleaning after their acquisition.
  • Users that fail to shut down the instruments at the end of the day or when they are the last user of the platform on the weekend will be billed the hourly rate of the analyser between their log-off and 9 am on the following workday. Their PI will be notified.
  • Do not under any circumstances let instruments or tubes run dry. This introduces air bubbles into the system which are hard to clear out.
  • Users must clean the bench space around the cytometers from any spills and remove any discard tubes, tips etc into the biohazard waste containers or back to their origin lab. All non-biohazard waste is collected in regular waste bins.
  • If a problem occurs with any of the instruments, please seek assistance first from the Imaging Facility Manager by phone using the speed dial option in the laboratory telephones. Alternatively send an e mail to hharris@rvc.ac.uk to notify them of the problem and record the issue in the appropriate FACS Logbook to notify other users.

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