[Cytometry] SRL staffing problems - need community feedback

Fisher, Nancy C nancy_fisher at med.unc.edu
Fri Feb 21 14:48:23 EST 2014

Hi Vinko,
I did an analysis in 2012 of  flow core instrumentation and staffing for the top 10 US universities, based on NIH funding. I collected my data from information posted on each facility's website. The FTE count included the Director/Core Manager

 These cores had an average of 5.3 sorters and 7.4 analyzers and  9 FTE.  The breakdown:   0.8 FTE  (+/- 0.3) per instrument (combined analyzers and sorters) or 2.0 FTE (+/- 0.9) per sorter.  No core had less than one FTE per sorter.  The numbers don't match up perfectly because some cores do not include staffing information on their websites. 

The approach that Peter suggests, to query cores to self-report, would probably be more accurate and contain a greater sample size. However, these 10 cores are from our larger universities and it looks like your core has a similar level of instrumentation. 

I hope that helps!!

Best regards,

Nancy C. Fisher
Director, UNC Flow Cytometry Core Facility
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

-----Original Message-----
From: cytometry-bounces at lists.purdue.edu [mailto:cytometry-bounces at lists.purdue.edu] On Behalf Of Lopez, Peter
Sent: Friday, February 21, 2014 10:22 AM
To: 'Vinko Tosevski'; Purdue Mailing list
Subject: Re: [Cytometry] SRL staffing problems - need community feedback

Hi Vinko,

This question comes up a lot. 

I sent out a survey to the Purdue list in June 2009 asking similar staffing questions and had over 50 respondents.

In these labs there was an average of 2.3 cell sorters, 4.3 analyzers, and  3FTEs. The FTE headcount for the survey included the lab director.

My interpretation was that an SRL needs at least one FTE per cell sorter. For my interpretation I did not heavily weigh the analyzer count because in my core all analyzers are run by non-SRL staff , although the SRL staff do perform  QC on all core analyzers and assist users having issues. 

Now things have changed a lot and this survey should be repeated. There are SRLs that are now successfully operating self-service sorters, and in 2009 cores didn't have many  ImageStream and CyTOF systems .

I think it would be very helpful if ISAC (and maybe also ABRF)  could formally address this SRL staffing issue with some sort of guideline or best practice document.


Peter Lopez
Research Assistant Professor of Pathology Director, NYULMC Core Cytometry Facility, Office of Collaborative Science
212.263.0635 (office)

-----Original Message-----
From: cytometry-bounces at lists.purdue.edu [mailto:cytometry-bounces at lists.purdue.edu] On Behalf Of Vinko Tosevski
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2014 4:16 PM
To: Purdue Mailing list
Subject: [Cytometry] SRL staffing problems - need community feedback

Dear all,

We're having issues convincing the decision-makers at the University that we're understaffed so I wanted to collect some feedback from the community.

We're a young core facility (established in 2009) but really grew in size and complexity recently. Right now we're operating or maintaining following

5 Aria III
1 Copas
2 LSR Fortessa
2 Canto II

We have just received CyTOF 2 and in few weeks also ImageStreamX arrives.
We're a team of 4 people, but only 2 of us being full time, the other 2 members being employed only for 20%. I need to add that all these instruments are scattered at 4 different locations across the city (each satellite location having one sorter and one analyzer, the rest being at our central site).

On top of all this, we're training users on how to operate instruments, organizing courses for graduate school, giving regular methodology seminars for students and postdocs and so on... Needles to say, sometimes there's no time to check our e-mails during the day.

Am I really so much off when I say we're understaffed? We just managed to get one 80% technician position that's gonna be dedicated to the one of the satellite sites and were told not to expect any new people allocated in the near future (?!?).

I would love to hear about your situation. How many staff members, how many instruments, what kind of stuff you do? I would put together a small report that would (hopefully) convince the University heads that we're not really asking for impossible, when compared to other sites across the globe. Or, maybe I'll learn that others are having even harder time and that my expectations are unrealistic.

I am looking forward to your feedback. It's quite a unique request from my side so feel free to simply reply privately.


Vinko Tosevski
Technology Officer

Flow Cytometry Facility
University of Zurich
Winterthurerstr. 190
CH-8057 Zürich

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