BD Accuri News
Frederik Hammes on Water Quality Research
Frederik Hammes, PhD, leads the drinking water microbiology group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) in Dübendorf, Switzerland. His research focuses on understanding bacterial behavior in drinking water treatment and distribution systems. Dr. Hammes explained how he uses the BD Accuri™ C6 to analyze drinking water in the field and for real-time flow cytometry.
Personal Flow Cytometry in Education
A student at Randolph-Macon College collects data with the BD Accuri C6
"You learn more when you do more." That's the educational philosophy of Hendrix College, a small liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas. Dr. Andres Caro, assistant professor of chemistry at Hendrix, wanted his advanced students to have flow cytometry experience. So he would load five or six of them in his car and drive 30 miles to the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. There, a technician at the flow cytometry core facility would perform their analyses—thus undermining Hendrix's hands-on goals.
That all changed when Dr. Caro won an INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence) grant from the National Institutes of Health. The funds allowed him to purchase a BD Accuri C6 for his own research as well as for undergraduate education. The cytometer resides in the college's core cell culture facility, where students in biology, chemistry, and biochemistry can run their own samples. No more drives to Little Rock—and no more hands-off analysis by a technician.
Of course, many research and teaching institutions introduce graduate students to flow cytometry as part of their training and research (although again this often takes place at a core facility where they might not perform their own analyses). Increasingly, however, customers report that they are including active flow cytometry usage in their undergraduate curricula.
A recent BD Biosciences white paper profiles several colleges and universities that employ the BD Accuri C6 in undergraduate education. While teaching might be their primary mission, newly hired faculty members are often expected to establish a laboratory and conduct original, publishable research. Like Dr. Caro, they often obtain funding for the instrument via federal, state, institutional, departmental, or private grants to support their own research. They then put the instrument to use in the classroom as well.
Personal, approachable, and unintimidating, the BD Accuri C6 is ideal for undergraduate usage. Intuitive BD Accuri™ C6 software makes operation easy for novice and proficient users alike. Its compact size and rugged design make it easy to transport into classrooms and teaching labs without optical realignment. And its low cost makes it an attractive option for individual research labs and smaller institutions.
Direct observation and experimentation are widely becoming central to a strong undergraduate education in biology as well as other disciplines. The flow cytometry curricula at these institutions includes such applications as immunophenotyping, apoptosis, monocytic phagocytosis, detection of intracellular and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, and detection of fluorescent protein expression in bacteria. At California State University, Northridge, for example, students learning about cell cycle analysis and cell death conducted a group experiment testing the effects of different compounds on a leukemia cell line (see figure).
Beyond coursework, undergraduates also participate in a wide variety of research projects involving flow cytometry. Topics include cell culture, oxidative stress, calcium flux, metabolism, cell cycle analysis, apoptosis and cell death, and the role of T cells in autoimmunity and aging. The ability to perform hands-on research using the BD Accuri C6 has significant benefits for these young scientists. Access to a personal flow cytometer helps them understand what it's like to work in a modern research lab. And if they decide to pursue a research career, Dr. Caro reports that their flow cytometry experience makes them more competitive for acceptance into top-tier graduate and professional schools.
Tips & Tricks
Create Software Templates
If you run a particular assay often, you can save time by creating a BD Accuri™ C6 software template and saving it for future use. A template contains a predefined workspace for quick and easy setup and analysis. All markers, regions, gates, parameter names, and sample names are saved without any data points.
You can find templates for several common assays on the BD Accuri C6 software CD or flash drive, or in the BD Accuri Technical Resource Library at bdbiosciences.com. Or, to create your own, define your standard plot, gating, and acquisition settings in a blank workspace, or just use the current .c6 file. Then select File > Save Template As.
When you want to run the assay again, simply open the template and enter your run settings . All the saved settings will be restored and you can immediately start collecting new data.
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