Leveraging expertise across EMBL services

A scientific workshop on flow cytometry was organised at EMBL Rome, taking advantage of the presence of the Advanced Mobile Laboratory, the biggest unit of EMBL’s mobile lab fleet

Participants of the flow cytometry and cell sorting workshop organised at EMBL Rome. Credits: Niko Leisch/EMBL

For over a year, the TREC expedition has taken a fleet of mobile laboratories and a team of experts along the European coastline, to carry out standardised sampling aimed at exploring the biodiversity and molecular adaptability of microbial communities and selected organisms.

One of the fleet’s vehicles – the Advanced Mobile Laboratory (AML) – is a pioneering laboratory on wheels that joined the main stops of the expedition to support the sampling activities while also providing scientific services to host institutes in member states. The AML provides cutting-edge technology in microscopy, imaging-enhanced large particle sorting, and sample preparation for (cryo-)electron microscopy.

Between the TREC stops in Naples (Italy) and Athens (Greece), the AML was hosted at EMBL Rome for about two weeks, providing scientific support and training to local staff. To take advantage of the on-site presence of this unique research infrastructure, a workshop on flow cytometry and cell sorting was organised, a joint effort of the flow cytometry facilities at EMBL Rome and Heidelberg and the AML.

The organisation of the workshop was further supported by Niko Leisch (AML Operational Manager) and Timothy Shayers (Facility Manager at EMBL Rome)  who ensured that the AML could station and be operational at EMBL Rome, and by the EMBL Rome administrative team.

The two-day-long workshop included a mix of scientific talks, on-site and remote demonstrations, and practicals around applications and new developments in flow cytometry and cell sorting. Some of the topics covered were applications in environmental and biomedical research, data analysis and display, as well as new technologies, such as imaging-enabled flow and cell sorting, full-spectrum flow cytometry, and AI-based flow cytometry. The workshop also saw participation from industry partners like Thermo Fisher Scientific, BD Biosciences, and ThinkCyte. 

Highlights of the workshop with demonstrations, hands-on training, and presentations of new technologies and instruments for flow cytometry and cell sorting. Bottom-left: the workshop organisers: Gerald Pfister (EMBL Rome), Michael Bonadonna (AML/EMBL Heidelberg), and Daniel Gimenes (EMBL Heidelberg). Credits: Daniel Gimenes/EMBL

The participants were from EMBL Rome and two local institutes of the Italian Research Council (CNR) focused on cell biology and water research (CNR-IBBC and CNR-IRSA). 

“The main idea of the workshop was to foster interactions and potential collaborations between the participants coming from different institutes and backgrounds,” said Gerald Pfister, head of the Flow Cytometry facility at EMBL Rome. “This worked very well and was achieved by allowing sufficient time to network during social sessions and lunch breaks. Participants from three research groups have already followed up with ideas for collaborations or future courses.”

“This workshop provided the right context to present cutting-edge technologies in flow cytometry and cell sorting,” said Michael Bonadonna, flow cytometry specialist at the AML. “Participants had the opportunity to join live demo sessions of sophisticated equipment such as the image-based large-particle sorter available in the AML. There are only five such machines in Europe, and two are located at EMBL.”

“One of the aspects of the course that was most appreciated is the collaboration across EMBL services located at different sites,” said Daniel Gimenes, senior flow cytometry specialist at EMBL Heidelberg. “This is a strong motivation to consider this a successful pilot and organise new editions of similar courses in the future.”

Tags: collaboration, core facility, facility, flow cytometry, italy, rome, TREC, workshop


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