The 3rd annual UK Flow Cytometry Facilities meeting was held this year (2020) at Newcastle University on the 8th-9th January. It was very well attended with over 110 delegates from right across the UK, representing both academic and industry core facilities. There were also several company representatives who attended as delegates rather than exhibitors to encourage a sense of collaboration.
The programme on day one was very much focused on issues specific to running/operating a successful core facility/shared resource laboratory (SRL) including horizon scanning for new technologies, securing grant funding, career structures, common problems in core operations and even discussing how to implement flow cytometry in regulated environments such as contract research. We heard from representatives of the two major UK funding agencies (Welcome Trust and UKRI) all about the specific programmes they support for obtaining funds for instrumentation which instigated a very powerful two way discussion around how they can better support the core technologist to write and lead instrument grants.
This segued beautifully in to a session on better career structures and recognition for core technologists and SRL staff led by Mr. Mel Leitch, deputy head of infrastructure at Newcastle University who is heavily involved in the Technicians Commitment initiative. Day one ended with a meeting dinner at “As you like it” where the delegates were able to relax, socialise and reflect on the great discussions of the day.
Day two began with a session on training, education and outreach for SRL staff led by Mr. Derek Davies, UK lead for science technology training at the Sir Francis CRICK institute in London and Dr Alexis Conway, director of the Flow and Image Cytometry graduate programme at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Buffalo New York, who was also the invited ISAC lecturer. Both speakers delivered informative and engaging talks on these very important and challenging subjects followed by a great Q and A session with wonderful delegate participation.
Feedback from the meeting highlighted this session as one of the most enjoyable of the entire meeting. The final session was focused on the emerging area of Genomic Cytometry and members of the Newcastle University Flow Core did a wonderful job of delivering their expertise to the audience and leading a very useful group discussion. The meeting closed and the delegates set off for home, hopefully with heads full of ideas and inspiration.