Upstate News

July 9, 2003
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

NIH and NYSTAR grants provide SUNY Upstate facility with new technology to speed identification and characterization of cells

SUNY Upstate Medical University has received more than $700,000 in state and federal funding to upgrade its flow cytometry research facility to include advanced technology used to identify and characterize normal and malignant cells.

The funding will enable the purchase of a Vantage SE Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter and an LSR II Cell Analyzer from Becton, Dickinson and Co., with DiVa computer control and turbo sort speed. The upgrade, officials say, will distinguish SUNY Upstate as a destination site for scientists across the state who require this specialized technology to advance their studies into a variety of medical disorders, particularly disorders affecting the immune system and the lung.

According to SUNY Upstate officials, the only other facilities in the Northeast currently comparable to SUNY Upstate’s flow cytometry facility are located in New York City and Boston.

The flow cytometry facility will allow biomedical researchers and other scientists to specifically identify and characterize normal and malignant cells from all types of tissues using more than 10 different features,” said Allen Silverstone, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at SUNY Upstate.

Silverstone adds that scientists will also be able to identify the presence of rare cells (stem cells, residual cancer cells, cells infected by viruses, etc.) present at frequencies less than 1 in 10,000. “In addition, these rare cells can actually be purified with the Vantage SE machines and then be further characterized. Cells can be analyzed and sorted at a rate of 25,000/second, so millions of cells can be examined in a very short period of time,” he said.

The facility is set to open this month and will be located in the South Wing on the fourth floor of University Hospital. It is realized through a $326,000 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, $280,000 from equipment grant funds awarded for environmental research under the NYSTAR program (New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research) and more than $100,000 from the State University of New York Construction Fund. The NYSTAR funding represents part of a $15.9 million award (including nearly $2 million for SUNY Upstate), establishing the Environmental Quality Systems Center, a consortium of more than 12 Upstate New York universities and research organizations led by Syracuse University.

The NIH grant, awarded in a highly competitive process to Silverstone with the cooperation of 16 NIH-funded SUNY Upstate investigators as well as microbiology chairs at Syracuse and Cornell universities, was used as the foundation to upgrade SUNY Upstate’s current facility. The facility will be overseen by Nick Gonchoroff, DrPH., director of the clinical and research flow cytometry facilities at SUNY Upstate.

Scientists who are interested in using the facility should contact Gonchoroff at 315-464-6753.

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