Core Facilities


CRG/UPF Flow Cytometry (FACS) Unit

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


The mission of the Flow Cytometry Unit is to provide PRBB researchers with the technical expertise and training they need to use state-of-the-art instrumentation, as well as technical and scientific advice to enable them 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 develops and/or implements new ones according to the needs to the facility and its users.

The current personnel covers all cell sorting and user support from 8:00 to 20:00 and we offer up to 16 hours a day of cell sorting.

The facility offers assistance in experimental design, analysers training and cell sorting services over a 12 hour period each day. This means we are able to meet the demand of all the users and we are even able to take on an additional 10-15% of cell sorting for the analysers. The unit’s activity has decreased 9.6% compared to 2013 due to the fact that two important groups  left the CRG.


The following table lists the current instrumentation.

Instrument Laser (nm) Detectors Situation
BD FACScan analyser 488 FSC/SSC + 3PMT Active
BD FACScalibur analyser 488 633 FSC/SSC + 4PMT Active
BD FACSCanto analyser 488 633 FSC/SSC + 6PMT Active
BD LSR II analyser 325 407 488 633 FSC/SSC + 10PMT Active
BD LSRFortessa analyser 407 488 561 633 FSC/SSC + 14PMT Active
BD FACSAria II SORP cell sorter 325 407 488 561 633 FSC/SSC + 18PMT Active
BD Influx cell sorter 325 457 488 561 633 FSC/SSC + 14PMT Active


The following table summarises the main activity of the facility:

2013 2014 2013 comparative change
Analyser usage (h) 4,923 4,129 -16%
Cell Sorting usage (h) 2,395 2,365 -1.3%
Total usage (h) 7,182 6,494 -9.6%
Total invoicing (€) 187,764 155,027 -17.5%

Even with the 9.6% reduction in total activity, the basic costs of the facility are covered with regard to contracted maintenance and the consumables needed to run the instruments.

The following graphs illustrate the changes in activity of the two main services, cell sorting and analysis, compared with the 4 previous years.


A: The total amount of analyser usage hours decreased by 16% in 2014 (from 4,923 in 2013 to 4,129 in 2014). B: The total amount of cell sorting usage hours decreased by 1.3% in 2014 (from 2,395 in 2013 to 2,365 in 2014).


After the implementation of cutting-edge high-resolution applications in the field of genomics in 2014 (i.e. Flow Karyotyping for chromosome sorting ), the unit has been contacted by external researchers who also want to set up flow cytometry applications, as performing single virus and exosome isolation. Both applications are pending complete validation by the publication of complementary techniques that, once published, will provide important tools for biomedical research. For several years the scientific community has been focusing its efforts in this field and currently we are the only facility able to apply this very attractive methods.

In 2014 the Head of the Unit lectured on Master’s courses at the UPF and CRG as well as teaching flow cytometry courses at other institutions in Barcelona. National collaborations were set up in 2014 (with the University of Alicante and researchers at IDIBELL).