Researcher to Receive Award for Bridging Old Technology with New

July 10, 2007

The fourth annual WNY Flow Users Group Meeting at the University of Rochester Medical Center Wednesday, July 11, adds a new feature this year – an award for innovative flow cytometry named for retired pathologist, Leon Wheeless, whose work at the University in the 1970s helped lead to the development of the high-tech (imaging) flow cytometer which is currently opening many new doors in research today at the University of Rochester and around the world.

With little knowledge about Amnis’ ImageStream® flow cytometer or its software, Kathleen McGrath, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Center for Pediatric Biomedical Research, is responsible for the innovative application of merging traditional morphological (stained) cell data with quantitative flow cytometry. This process greatly eases the tedious task of hours-long analysis of a couple hundred cells through a microscope; it enables analysis of tens of thousands of cells based on the same morphological characteristics through a flow cytometer capable of taking pictures of the cells as they stream by.

“That (McGrath) has developed this technique so we can maximize the use of this machine is really ground-breaking,” said Jim Palis, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics and scientific director of the Center for Pediatric Biomedical Research. “She’s just done a fabulous job of allowing us to use the machine to its maximum potential.”

Because the Amnis machine is relatively new, there isn’t a large body of literature on which to draw in conducting research using the machine. McGrath will be presenting on how she was able to develop the technique during the Fourth Western New York Flow Users Group Meeting, a meeting that allows researchers and clinicians who use flow cytometers to share their knowledge.

“There aren’t a lot of machines out there. There isn’t any literature out there,” McGrath said. “I hope I can show that you don’t need to completely understand the machine to use it.”

Tim Bushnell, Ph.D., associate professor in the Center for Pediatric Biomedical Research and organizer of the meeting, said it is fitting that McGrath’s award is named for Leon Wheeless.

“It’s important to honor the people who have made our work possible,” Bushnell said.

The meeting will also feature lectures on new techniques and discoveries related to flow cytometry.

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