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About the facility


The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), University Health Network (UHN)

Objectives of the Facility:

This SickKids-UHN Flow and Mass Cytometry Facility (FMCF) was established to serve the needs of all investigators from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) Research Institute, as well as UHN investigators whose laboratories are located in the TMDT and the Max Bell Research Labs. We provide these investigators, their trainees, and technical staff with access to state-of-the-art analytical flow cytometers and high-speed cell sorters. FMCF staff operate and maintain the analytical cytometers and cell sorters, assist researchers in protocol selection and development, and will train students, post-doctoral fellows and technologists how to operate the analytical cytometers and use our data analysis software.


The facility has two nodes:

  • TMDT Building (East Tower) of the MaRS Centre at 101 College St (Rm 2-203 and 2-504)
  • PGCRL Building at 686 Bay St (Rm 18-9430)

Services and Training:

We provide access to analytical flow cytometers, cell sorting services, assisted Mass Cytometry (Helios), assisted Flow Cytometry, Phospho-Flow as well as data analysis.

Operation and optimization of cell sorters requires complex daily adjustments of laser alignments and fluidics and takes care, patience and months of training. Therefore, these instruments (with the exception of the SH800) are operated exclusively by FMCF staff. In addition, we also have automated magnetic cell separators which users of the facility can be trained to use.

Our users' familiarity with the theory and practice of flow cytometry ranges from little to extensive. For flow cytometry beginners, FMCF staff will provide basic educational and training materials to convey basic principles of flow cytometry instrumentation before they actually use the facility. Users will be advised on the design of their flow cytometry experiments, particularly the need to include particular kinds of specificity and fluorescence compensation controls. Most frequent users can be trained to calibrate the analytical cytometers and acquire data without supervision following two to three training sessions.

Day-to-Day Operations:

All individuals wishing to use the TMDT FMCF must be approved to do so by their department head or principal investigator. The principal investigator will need to complete a registration form authorizing specific lab members to use our services, and provide a UHN or SickKids cost centre for billing purposes. Users external to SickKids and UHN can use our services after registering and providing sufficient information to allow billing through our Accounts Payable Department. Our general principle for establishing user priorities is based on a simple first-come first-serve priority system. We generally allow appointments to be booked up to four weeks in advance. Users can make appointments to use the analytical flow cytometers by accessing an online booking system on a network server. Users can also book time for off-line data analysis on our workstations. The cell sorters will only be operated by FCF staff and appointments can be booked using our online booking system.


The SickKids-UHN FMCF is governed by a management committee consisting of Drs. Cynthia Guidos (SickKids) and John Dick (UHN) who both act as Co-Directors. The management committee collectively sets user fees and all policies and procedures for FMCF use. Dr. Guidos has primary responsibility for technical and financial operations of the facility. The Management Committee meets quarterly or ad-hoc to review operating and financial issues, discuss and resolve issues/problems related to instrument functions, billing, user training/education, and general FMCF policy. We will encourage suggestions and feedback on our service from all investigators on an ongoing basis.