Written by Jeffery A. Nelson, Instrumentation Specialist
Harvard University, Bauer Flow Cytometry Core Facility
Although I’ve been in the field of Flow Cytometry for a while, I am new to the Boston area and for the first time, had the opportunity to attend the Northeast Regional Life Sciences Core Directors meeting (NERLSCD or NERD). Unlike most of the meetings I attend, which focus mainly on flow cytometry and imaging, the NERLSCD meeting was multidisciplinary, covering a wide range of specialties, including; Flow Cytometry, Imaging, Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics, High Throughput Screening, Antibodies and Administration. The meeting format consisted of; numerous pre-meeting satellite events prior to the opening reception (various meetings and tours of local core facilities), excellent daily keynote speakers, followed by break-out sessions covering a wide variety of ‘Technical Tracks’ and finally a poster session and vendor / colleague networking opportunity to finish out the evening.
Prior to the opening reception, since our core facility was one of the host facilities giving the tour, I attended the New England Cytometry Users Group meeting (another local scientific meeting that coincided perfectly with the NERD meeting schedule). Once the NERLSCD meeting started, I particularly thought the keynote speakers were very good each day and I loved the diverse Technical Track sessions! Since I work in a flow cytometry core facility helping researchers optimize their flow experiments, I thought it was extremely cool to see how the cells I sort for someone could be used in the latest downstream technologies. I also like keeping current with some of the new administrative and regulatory challenges that face various core facilities so enjoyed hearing from core leaders and administrators. I also really enjoyed the poster session where I got to see a wide variety of research, both within and outside my primary field of interest. Lastly, I always enjoy visiting the vendor booths to keep current with the latest technology. Specifically, I loved the vendor booth experience at the NERD meeting, because I learned about some of the technologies that researchers are looking to use in conjunction with flow cytometry and learned a lot!
Overall, I think the NERD meeting was awesome! I think the wonderfully diverse, but correlated technologies represented at the NERD meeting allowed me to see the whole picture. Not only did I get to see how flow cytometry fits in with the newest downstream technologies but also administratively within an institution. By seeing what users are doing downstream of sorting, I am able to better optimize their sorting experience and to provide suggestions for their sort to better accommodate their downstream goals.
Finally, I want to end with a funny meeting experience. On the first day, I arrived at the hotel and was immediately greeted by a nice lady. I was so impressed with the personal greeting and was wondering how she knew my name. I thought then she would give me my name tag and direct me to the meeting, but instead, she said; “The bus is waiting for you, so whenever you are ready you can start the tour” – I guess some other guy with my name was giving a Boston tour. Things were more realistic when I found the NERD staff, who were also very friendly but not as overwhelmingly excited as the first lady I met and I had to give them my name-LOL. So, if I wasn’t so new to Boston, the NERD meeting could have also given me the opportunity to add ‘giving a Boston tour’ to my resume!