A ‘New Nerds’ Insight on NERLSCD

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,14615825_1199490510114686_6519811918853205566_o  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 14753444_1199487126781691_5931631331088966043_odiverse 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!

Trifecta! Registration now open for three ABRF Chapters.

The Western Association of Core Directors (WACD), Midwest Association for Core Directors (MWACD) and Northeast Regional Life Sciences Core Directors (NERLSCD) officially announce registration for their meetings is now OPEN!

Each chapter has something to offer.  From Keynote lectures on Zika, to  sessions on developing strong scientific staff and learning about core facility interactions each conference has something to offer for everyone in scientific and administrative positions.  Seats are hot, topics are lively, and colleagues are friendly.  Register soon before prices go up!  See the details and conference agenda below.

We hope to see you at an ABRF chapter near you!


6th annual WACD Conference

Sustainable Core Facilities Through Science and Service

Sept 22- Sept 23, 2016
Alexandria Conference Center in Torrey Pines, Ca – near the UC San Diego campus

Register Now!
See the Conference Schedule


MWACDOctober 5-7, 2016

Kingsgate Marriott! in Cincinnati, OH

 2016 Meeting Information

Register Now


Reflections on SEASR

Written by Robert Carnahan and David Blum

The fourth annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of Shared Resources (SEASR) was held at the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta June 22-24, 2016.  There was a total of 133 registrants including academic, government and industrial attendees.  The attendees represented a wide range of institutions across the Southeast including Emory University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida, the University of Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Morehouse School of Medicine and others.

The conference started out with tours of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Museum followed by the opening reception and bowling tournament at Wisteria Lanes in the Emory Conference Center with both being big hits among attendees.  On Thursday, June 23rd, the opening keynote focused on problem-solving strategies and it led directly into a 90 minute hands-on problem-solving workshop.  Both sessions were led by Joe Rando (Vanderbilt).   Friday, June 24th began with a double-header keynote with 2 sessions focused on crisis management using the Ebola epidemic as the theme. Aneesh Mehta, one of the attending physicians at Emory discussed how teamwork was used to manage the treatment of several US based infected individuals.  This session was followed by a joint session by Erika James, Dean of the Emory-Goizueta Business School and Inger Damon, Director of the CDC’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology.  They presented on “Leading Under Pressure” which continued the Ebola theme and focused on leadership qualities.

The significant focus on lab management continued throughout each day of the meeting with breakouts sessions on topics such as managing staff in lean times, writing a business plan, “speaking business”, and a discussion of the role of Cores in  education, training and outreach.   Each day also included vendor-sponsored sessions with workshops by Swift Bioscience, Agilent and HTG Molecular, Pall-Forte-Bio and 3Scan.  The conference concluded with a workshop of Lean principles and included using LEAN principles in a hands-on activity to make paper airplanes as a group.  The initial survey results have been very positive and we look forward to seeing everybody next year in Tampa!

Strengthening and Promoting the ABRF LMRG network at the FOM2016 meeting

By Erika (Tse-Luen) Wee, ABRF Light Microscopy Research Group (LMRG) Chair, McGill University

Recently, Erika (Tse-Luen) Wee, ABRF Light Microscopy Research Group (LMRG) Chair, traveled to a conference in Taipei, Taiwan.  There, she presented a poster on research efforts being made within her ABRF research group.  In turn, she found and generated interest in what it means to be an ABRF member.  Below is her story.

The Focus on Microscopy 2016 Conferencewas recently held in Taipei, Taiwan, and organized by Prof. G.J. (Fred) Brakenhoff from the University of Amsterdam, and Prof. Fu-Jen Kao from the National Yang-Ming University. This annual conference series was started in 1988 by Andres Kriete in Giessen, Germany, and has over the years welcomed a growing number of researchers, principal investigators, core facilities managers, and exhibitors from all over the world.

The theme of the meeting this year was brain imaging, as well as a special focus on correlated light and electron microscopy. Other topics included super-resolution, fluorescence probes, light sheet, image processing/analysis, new developments in confocal, non-linear optics and lasers, all of which are hot topics and in high demand in light microscopy core facilities today.

The focus of the FOM2016 meeting had strong relevance to current LMRG studies. Being the current LMRG Chair, I had a poster presentation on the current LMRG study (#3), as well as the previous two studies conducted by the LMRG from previous years. The poster presentation was very well received, and stimulated a lot of discussion about LMRG and most importantly, the ABRF.Untitled.1

These interactions provided a great opportunity to increase awareness of the ABRF and to demonstrate how the Association provides a forum for networking and sharing. I was very surprised to see many Canadians and Australians attending the conference alongside the more common European attendants and microscopy vendors from Asia and Europe. It was a very nice opportunity to network with microscopists from around the world, and to promote membership with the ABRF in an effort to bridge the gap between Asia, Europe and the US communities. Several individuals at the conference, including participants from Singapore, Italy, Japan, and Germany expressed their interests in participating in the LMRG study and joining the ABRF, and we very much look forward to future discussions.

One of the main highlights was the invitation talk “Challenges and Tradeoffs in Modern Fluorescence Imaging Methods” from Eric Betzig, the Nobel Prize Winner in 2014. This is one of the best presentations I have attended recently; it was truly insightful and educational. The main focus of his talk was to compare the strengths and weaknesses of different microscopy modalities as applied to different biological problems and how to avoid artifacts caused by labeling, fixation, specimen motion, and image processing. This presentation content echoed perfectly with the LMRG mission: “To promote scientific exchange between researchers, define & improve relative testing standards that will assist core managers and users in the maintaining their microscopes for optimal operation”.

UntitledIn the end, I am very thrilled to see that FOM2016 had taken place in my home town of Taipei, Taiwan, and very honored to be able to represent ABRF here. Taipei is one of the political, economic, and cultural hubs of Asia. As a global city, it has great dynamics, diversity, and insightfulness in regards to culture, politics, high-end technologies, and impressive research programs. And of course, the food was amazing!

This trip would not have been possible without the generous support of ABRF and McGill University.  I would like to thank ABRF Executive Board members Peter Lopez and Frances Weis-Garcia for their amazing assistance and support of LMRG, and I also would like to thank Claire Brown and Rich Cole for their mentorship and guidance.

Educating Johannesburg on the Benefits of Core Facilities in Research.


This post was adapted from a Florida State University Press Release.

Dr. Claudius Mundoma, from Florida State University, Institute of Molecular Biophysics, and an ABRF Member, was awarded a fellowship by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program to travel to South Africa to work with University of Johannesburg and Profs. Charles Mbohwa and Willie Oldewage on “Sharing Research Equipment – Towards a Sustainable Model of Interdisciplinary Collaborative Research”.  This fellowship allows for Mundoma to work with researchers in Africa and educate them with his intimate knowledge on how core facilities in particular can benefit interdisciplinary research and collaboration.  Especially with limited resources and funding for research available.


Dr. Mundoma teaching to students in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Our recognition that scientific research resources are not only the heart of discovery and productivity but also the catalyst to innovation underpins this effort. Equipment sharing is a common practice but there is need for an understanding of the benefits and barriers to greater equipment sharing as a response to reduced capital funding. To maintain economic competitiveness, it is critical to sustain gains in scientific investments made over the past decade through efficient use of available resources.  It is with this focus that Dr. Claudius Mundoma is collaborating with the University of Johannesburg to come up with a comprehensive strategy to managing the research assets at University of Johannesburg that will focus on efficiency as a very first step towards innovation.

The need is addressed in three ways:

(1) By equipment-sharing and better scientific resource management principles we strengthen Africa’s collaboration networks. By creating a searchable equipment portal and a sharing management system, the university can be able to stretch scarce research funds to serve a wider research community. The sharing portal brings visibility to research capabilities across the university and enhances efficiency by optimizing redundancies and increasing equipment access. It is also important to note that not all equipment is shareable.

P1010735(1) 2) Centralization has advantages of economies of scale, which allows the university to better manage the full life cycle cost of its equipment, i.e., from acquisition to retirement or re-purposing.


Learning the ‘ropes’ on equipment.

(3) Providing management training options for the equipment managers through adoption of best practices and joining professional organizations. Equipment managers should be able to cross-train on various instruments and increase their value to the university community thus extending training to graduate students and faculty in their departments.

The University of Johannesburg project is one of 57 projects that will pair African Diaspora scholars with higher education institutions in Africa to collaborate on curriculum co-development, research, graduate teaching, training and mentoring activities.  Dr. Claudius Mundoma is one of 59 African Diaspora scholars who have been awarded fellowships to travel to Africa beginning in May 2016 to conduct a wide range of projects across disciplines, from agroforestry to e-learning modules for nursing, and from ethnomusicology to military mental health. The program has now selected and approved a total of 169 Fellows since its inception in 2013.


Enjoying an afternoon high tea in the break room.

The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship program facilitates engagement between scholars born in Africa who are now based in the United States or Canada and scholars in Africa on mutually beneficial academic activities.  The Advisory Council selected forty-one African universities to host the Fellows, based on collaborative project proposals submitted by faculty members and administrators at the African universities, to meet specific needs at their universities. This innovative program is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in collaboration with United State International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) in Nairobi, through Dr. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, who chairs the Advisory Council, and is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


MAD SSCi 2016: The Corpse in the Conservatory

-Written by Roxann Ashworth, MAD SSCi Secretary, JHU

The fourth annual MAD SSCi conference was held at the beautiful William Pitt Union on the urban campus of the University of Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh welcomed 95 delegates, representing BioNano, Biorepository, Flow Cytometry, Imaging and Molecular Technology facilities.  Core directors, administrators, managers and staff were able to interact and form or renew fruitful relationships that will lead to future collaboration.  We were very happy to be joined by the ABRF Executive Director Susan DeCourcey.

“Wonderful opportunity to meet and interact with colleagues working in Core Facilities.  I enjoyed the Quality Assurance Workshop which generated good discussions.  The presentations on Biorepositories were informative and created topics for us to discuss in our Core.”  –Lori Kelly, U. Pitt, New Core Director, First Time Attendee

Accreditation: CMU Field Robotics Center

Accreditation: CMU Field Robotics Center

Attendees from universities and institutions around the Mid-Atlantic, and as far away as Texas and Tennessee, kicked off the conference with a reception at the Phipps Conservatory and a talk from Dr. Alan Waggoner of Carnegie Mellon University.  Dr. Waggoner described the development of a roving biosensor and fluorescent dyes that may one day be deployed to look for life on Mars.  Earthbound testing took place in the hostile, but striking Atacama Desert, Chile.

Romero – thankfully not a scratch and sniff picture!

Romero – thankfully not a scratch and sniff picture!


The highlight of the evening was the once in a lifetime opportunity to see (and smell) the blossoming of the Corpse Flower known as “Romero.”  When we walked in that evening, we all thought it was pretty cool, and maybe noticed a slight aroma.  When we walked out at the end of the evening past the now fully open flower, we all understood how the plant got its name!

Thursday and Friday brought presentations on topics ranging from A(dministration) to Z(ika).

A Dynamic David Dilts Acceditation: Kunjie Hua, UNC

A Dynamic David Dilts Acceditation: Kunjie Hua, UNC




David Dilts of OHSU provided an entertaining and thought provoking talk on how to define the value that our core facilities provide to our investigators and the universities we serve.  Our closing talk was a fascinating look at the possible mechanisms and explanations for why the Zika virus, which has been around since 1947, has suddenly become a devastating disease now that it has reached South America.  Between these keynotes, delegates had the opportunity to attend vendor workshops on a variety of topics, go to concurrent sessions on topics as diverse as Biorepositories, Genome Editing, Light Sheet Microscopy and Project management, and to pick each other’s brains for solutions to common problems in the “What’s your Core?” round table discussion.


Gene Editing Session Accreditation: Roxann Ashworth, JHU

Gene Editing Session
Accreditation: Roxann Ashworth, JHU

Lans Taylor gave an interesting overview of how the University of Pittsburgh is integrating systems biology and 3D cultured organs on a chip to develop methods for cheaper and more efficient drug discovery. Rebecca Davies placed the provision of QA training and infrastructure at the center of assuring accurate and repeatable data.  She argued for the development of best practices within the research community.  Describing the collaborative, centralized approach she has championed at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Davies gave our attendees much to discuss regarding the role of core facilities in assuring reproducibility.

“The conference felt personal due to the size and background and those that attended…[The] other managers…were insightful with how to handle instrument usage, advertisements, etc. Overall a good conference to attend, especially being new to managing a facility.”  — Greg Donohoe, Ph.D., BioNano Research Facilities Manager, Shared Research Facilities, West Virginia University

Corey Lipchick Accreditation: Roxann Ashworth, JHU

Corey Lipchick
Accreditation: Roxann Ashworth, JHU

Corey Lipchik from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, Allegheny Health Network won the poster travel award for: FFPE Tissue and the HTG Oncology Biomarker Panel: a Low-Input, Extraction-Free Gene Expression Pilot Study.  He will receive $500 to attend either the national meeting or next year’s MAD SSCi meeting.  Michael Chua of the UNC Michael Hooker Microscopy Core Facility won a free ABRF membership kindly donated by ABRF Ambassadors.

“[The MAD SSCi conference is] small enough and regional to make the networking particularly fruitful.”— Paul Wood, University of Pittsburgh

Next year MAD SSCi 2017 will be held in Morgantown, WV hosted by West Virginia University.  We have many ideas for content, and plan to develop more staff focused technical and networking sessions that will compliment the excellent administrative and management focus of recent years.  Watch our website to see what we are up to!  Our new President, Trina Wafle, has some exciting new ideas and will continue our tradition of wonderful entertainment and fabulous science!

JBT Publishes a Special Issue on Core Management


This issue of the Journal of Biomolecular Techniques is devoted to the business of cores, from developing performance standards and metrics for evaluating core performance to implementing product lifecycle management for core operation improvement, all while creating disaster response and business continuity plans. We thank Ron Orlando, JBT Editor-in-Chief, and the ABRF Executive Board for supporting this special issue of JBT. It is our hope that readers will find these articles useful for developing approaches that will benefit their cores and institutions.

Spreading the Word


Together the Association for Biomolecular Facilities (ABRF) Executive Board (EB), Membership Committee (MemComm), and Communications Committee (CommComm) formalize the ABRF “Ambassador Program.” Committee and individual members of the ABRF will officially serve a key role in advocating and sharing information about the association with various regional, international, and other cross-disciplinary groups to attract potential ABRF members. Formalizing the Ambassador Program not only provides our representatives resources helping them share a unified message with potential members with fresh marketing tools, but also provides MemComm data with which to retool strategies to build and engage the membership.

“In the past ABRF has tried to promote the Ambassador program by simply identifying ABRF members that attend the regional/chapter/local/technology focused meetings to spread the word about ABRF at those meetings. This was an informal process and the results were mixed.  We did not have mechanisms to follow up and there was no support infrastructure for the ABRF ambassadors.” said MemComm co-chair, Claudius Mundoma.

The idea to formalize the Ambassador Program and provide a coordinated communication package for Ambassadors. In the past MemComm spearheaded the “Member Get A Member“ campaign, which attracted 50+ new members to the ABRF. The EB and CommComm have agreed to further develop these efforts and create a harmonized message for the Ambassadors to share. Ambassadors will now have access to tools and resources and be empowered to identify what the larger community of core and technology focused people need. This includes a new ABRF pull out banner, brochures, rack cards, a slide deck, a poster, and a free, one-year ABRF membership to raffle off to non-members at each meeting.

The overarching goal of the Ambassador Program is to effectively, and in a fiscally responsible manner, broaden awareness of ABRF’s reach at a very nominal cost. The best way to build any network is through word of mouth, through current ABRF members sharing how they have benefited from being part of the association and inviting others to join. “We simply want to make sure that the Ambassador has enough support to effectively communicate the mission and benefits of joining the ABRF.  We expect the Ambassadors to give us feedback on their engagement and we can get actionable insights from these reports.” Mundoma continued.

Several meetings are already booked in the hopes of opening doors for ABRF and building existing relationships:

  • Susan DeCourcey (Executive Director) – MADSSCi – June 8 – 10 in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Scott Tighe (Chairperson, Metagenomics Research Group) is an invited speaker at the The 18th Genomic Standards Consortium Meeting being held in Greece in mid June
  • Bill Hendrickson (President) will give one of the keynote lectures at CTLS 2016 – Core Technologies for Life Science in mid June at EMBL
  • Susan DeCourcey (Executive Director) – SEASR – late June in Atlanta, GA
  • Frances Weis-Garcia (President-elect) is speaking at the NIH, NIGMS 6th Biennial National IDeA Symposium of Biomedical Research Excellence (NISBRE) in DC in late June
  • Claudius Mundoma (Co-chairperson, MemComm) is
    • Heading to South Africa this summer, where among other things he and will share how networking with ABRF members around the world can strengthen core facilities and science in South Africa
    • Attending a Florida-wide core facility directors meeting in mid-August
  • Andy Chitty and Julie Auger (EB Members) – WACD – late September in Torrey Pines, CA
  • Paula Turpen (EB Member) – MWACD – early October in Cincinnati, OH
  • Claire Reardon (Co-chair, MemComm) and other ABRF members – NERLSCD – mid October in Boston, MA

Members are encouraged to propose other events to MemComm at which ABRF members can represent the association and encourage people to join.


Lopez Participates in Unique Collaboration with Monterey Bay Aquarium


Pictured is the MBARI Long Range Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (LRAUV) with a group of collaborators working to vet underwater flow cytometric and microscopic approaches for monitoring ocean plankton

Participants in the June 1-2 workshop hosted by The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) which focused on vetting underwater flow cytometric and microscopic approaches for monitoring ocean plankton. This is critical for prediction of toxic algal blooms harmful to humans, monitoring the ocean carbon cycle, and general planetary health. Peter Lopez, back row, 5th in from the right, along with Chris Scholin ,9th from the right, MBARI Director, Heidi Sosik–Woods Hole Oceanographic Instititute, inventor of the Imaging Flow CytoBot (kneeling, 2nd from right ), and Jarred  Swalwell, 8th from the right , back row, University of Washington, inventor of the “SeaFlow” and “PipeCyte” sheath less underwater flow cytometers . In front is the MBARI Long Range Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (LRAUV).
Peter was invited to participate in this workshop for his flow cytometric and methods integration expertise.

Metagenomics Research Group Gains White House Attention


Recently the ABRF Metagenomics Research Group (MGRG) was represented  at the recent White House meeting on the National Microbiome Initiative by three members of the MGRG; Samantha Joye from the University  of Georgia, Nick Greenfield of One Codex, Rita Colwell of the University of Maryland.. While our  involvement with the NMI is small, we are working especially hard to be recognized as a leader in advancing the science and techniques of metagenomics and microbiome analysis. Represented through discussion with Nick Greenfield of One Codex, one of the Extreme Microbiome Project (XMP) corporate partners, the ABRF MGRG, the XMP, and Chris Mason’s Metasub International consortium were highlighted as well recognized study groups.  It should be noted that the MGRG is somewhat different from other ABRF groups because of the affiliation with the XMP which engages participants from corporate, academia, and government and members from around the world. The RG has approximately 25 members and growing.

The National Microbiome Initiative is exciting as the US government recognizes the magnitude of metagenomics and microbiome research. There has been over 100 million dollars dedicated by several US  agencies as well a dozens of other institutes dedicating additional resources to study all aspects of metagenomics research  from collection techniques to bioinformatics tools.

You can read more about this initiative here.