Core Facilities

CRG/UPF Flow Cytometry (FACS) Unit

Unit Structure

Òscar Fornas (UPF)
Erika Ramírez (CRG), Eva Julià (IMIM)


The mission of the Flow Cytometry Unit is to provide PRBB researchers with technical expertise and training to access the state-of-the-art instrumentation, as well as technical and scientific advice to develop efficient and reliable flow cytometric assays with the highest quality control standards and productivity. The Unit supports the use of a wide range of flow cytometry applications and new ones are developed/implemented responding to the facility needs or upon user demand.

Since the two operators work in two overlapping shifts, the facility can extend the service hours into the late evening. The facility now offers assistance with experimental design, training on the analysers, and cell sorting services during 16 hours per day with two cell sorters.

The Facility personnel hasn’t changed during 2013: The Head of Unit, Òscar Fornas, PhD (UPF); Erika Ramírez, Technician (CRG); Eva Julià, BS (IMIM). The annual User’s Satisfaction Survey shows a high satisfaction degree regarding the unit staff.

The activity is still increasing for the two main services, cell sorting and analysis, with similar tendency compared to previous years.


The following table shows the current instrumentation.

Instrument Laser (nm) Detectors Situation
BD FACScan analyser 488 FSC/SSC + 3PMT


BD FACScalibur analyser 488 633 FSC/SSC + 4PMT


BD FACSCanto analyser 488 633 FSC/SSC + 6PMT


BD LSR II analyser 325 407 488 633 FSC/SSC + 10PMT


BD LSRFortessa analyser 407 488 561 633 FSC/SSC + 14PMT


BD FACSAria II SORP cell sorter 325 407 488 561 633 FSC/SSC + 18PMT


BD Influx cell sorter 325 457 488 561 633 FSC/SSC + 14PMT


The new high-end instrumentation purchased in 2012 (BD LSRFortessa and BD Influx) has covered all the expectations as well as have contributed to completely eliminate the waiting time to perform experiments. Currently, we are on the optimal situation to fit all the users demand, and we are even able to assume an additional cell sorting demand of around 10-15%.

The BD Influx cell sorter, equipped with 5 laser lines and up to 14 fluorescence detectors, purchased on 2012, covers the same applications than the other one (FACSAria II) and its special architecture has allowed restarting some projects that were stopped in the past, because the previous cell sorter wasn’t a high resolution cell sorter. Concrete projects were stopped for two years due to the lack of a high-resolution system.

On the other hand, special high-resolution applications have been setup offering new tools to advance in the genomic field (i.e. Flow Karyotyping for chromosome sorting) making the Unit as the sole Spanish Flow Cytometry Unit capable to offer these applications, becoming as one of the most Advanced Flow Cytometry Unit in Europe.


The following table summarizes the main inputs to analyse the Facility activity:

2012 2013 2012 compared increase
Analyzers usage (h) 4523 4923 9%
Cell Sorting usage (h) 1993 2395 20%
Total usage (h) 6516 7318 12.3%
Total invoicing (€) 162670 187764 15.4%

Since our capacity is still not at 100%, we still can assume more demand in the coming months. With the current activity the basic facility costs are covered, considering the maintaining contracts and consumables needed to run instrumentation as basic costs.

The following graphs illustrate how the activity is still increasing for the two main services, cell sorting and analysis, compared with the 3 previous years.


A: For the analysers usage, the total amount of hours used in 2013 has increased by 9% (from 4523 in 2012 to 4923 in 2013). B: For the cell sorting usage, the total amount of hours used in 2013 has increased by 20% (from 1993 in 2012 to 2395 in 2013)

During 2013 the Head of the Unit participated in master teaching courses of the UPF and CRG as well as in flow cytometry courses at other institutions in Barcelona. National and international collaborations have started during 2013 (i.e. with investigators from Yale University, Universidad de Granada and Universidad de Alicante).