[Cytometry] SRL staffing problems - need community feedback

Derek Davies derek.davies at cancer.org.uk
Wed Feb 26 11:59:57 EST 2014

Gene makes a good point. A big part of it is to get Institutional buy-in
to the efficiencies that a core brings and part of that is acknowledgment
of what the principle remits of the core are. As well as operating cell
sorters there is the QC, cleaning, general maintenance, liaison with OEMs
etc. It seems that most established cores run with the approx 1 FTE per
sorter model. This can change if there are self service sorters involved
or if sorting is not offered every day. Analysers are slightly different
and several have made the points that it can depend heavily on the types
(ImageStream v Calibur for example) and the level of input that core staff
are expected to have. 1 FTE per 3/4 analysers would probably cover more
cases though.

As Peter Lopez said, surveys on this have been run before and do have a
value for those of us who run or work in SRLs and, although I don't like
to overburden everyone with surveys, these metrics may be used to inform
best practices. For those of you headed to CYTO in Fort Lauderdale, there
is a specific SRL track including tutorials, workshops and a parallel


Its not possible to cover all aspects of running an SRL at a single CYTO
Conference but we have a good mix for you this year!


On 25/02/2014 23:37, "Gene Pizzo" <genepizzo74 at gmail.com> wrote:

>One of the important discriminators in all FACS facilities is quality
>control. You might get an acknowledgement of the ideal #FTE's/instrument
>based on the ideal case in which everyone is optimally funded. But suppose
>you aren't, then #FTE's/instrument is irrelevant. And to put it mildly a
>lot of us are experiencing irrelevancy in that regard right now.
>I believe a better way of looking at it is resolving the level of quality
>control that makes sense.
>I'll use the Rockefeller Institute when I worked there very briefly with
>Cris Bare as an example because its easy to be positive about that
>experience. They had a remarkably high level of quality control. They had
>dedicated operator for all their sorters, users were not permitted at
>while I was there to operate the machines themselves. This in part
>the #FTE's/sorter ratio and it was justified by the high level of quality
>control they were and did maintain in part as a consequence of that
>Their instruments always worked at peak performance.
>At institutions where you have a much lower ratio you are likely to have a
>much lower level of quality control but perhaps it can't be helped. The
>level of funding may not accommodate a higher ratio of dedicated
>operators/instruments and a policy of user operated sorters may prove to
>a necessity. You'll likely pay the price in instrument downtime. You could
>end up opting for service contracts instead of FTE's in which case you
>would have to weigh the price of both against quality control.
>Gene Pizzo
>On Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 4:15 PM, Vinko Tosevski
><vinko.tosevski at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> We're having issues convincing the decision-makers at the University
>> we're understaffed so I wanted to collect some feedback from the
>> We're a young core facility (established in 2009) but really grew in
>> and complexity recently. Right now we're operating or maintaining
>> instruments:
>> 5 Aria III
>> 1 Copas
>> 2 LSR Fortessa
>> 2 Canto II
>> We have just received CyTOF 2 and in few weeks also ImageStreamX
>> 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
>> 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
>> get one 80% technician position that's gonna be dedicated to the one of
>> satellite sites and were told not to expect any new people allocated in
>> near future (?!?).
>> I would love to hear about your situation. How many staff members, how
>> instruments, what kind of stuff you do? I would put together a small
>> that would (hopefully) convince the University heads that we're not
>> asking for impossible, when compared to other sites across the globe.
>> 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
>> side so feel free to simply reply privately.
>> Best,
>> Vinko
>> --
>> Vinko Tosevski
>> Technology Officer
>> Flow Cytometry Facility
>> University of Zurich
>> Winterthurerstr. 190
>> CH-8057 Zürich
>> Switzerland
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