USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Flow Cytometry and Immune Monitoring Core

The mission of the Flow Cytometry and Immune Monitoring Core (FCIM) is to provide advanced flow cytometry, cell sorting and immune monitoring capabilities and services for advancing basic and translational research with an option for full-service technical support for clinical immunobiology and immune monitoring correlative studies needed for the pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention of cancer.

FCIM Services:

Direct Services: Staff-operated and supported services include:
      • FACS: The Core provides the technologies for the isolation of specific- or rare-cell populations, such as circulating tumor cells or cancer stem cells. Sophisticated multi-color, multi-subpopulation purifications can be performed using the Core’s newest state-of-the-art 28-parameter BD FACSymphony cell sorter or the Fluidigm Mass Cytometry (CyTOF) instrument.
      • Cellular immunophenotyping: Flow cytometry is used to detect and quantify cells stained with fluorescently labeled antibodies. FCIM manages FlowJo cytometry analysis software site licenses for investigators.
      • Blood, serum, plasma, vaginal and lung lavage, sputum, urine, tissue processing and storage: This includes standardized processing and isolation of peripheral blood lymphocytes or serum from tubes or bags of blood from apheresed patients, or from other relevant bodily fluids.
      • Functional lymphocyte immune assessment: Current immune monitoring services include the ELISpot assay for detection of cytokines, intracellular cytokine staining, CSFE-based proliferation assays, cytotoxicity cell-killing assays, and other custom-based assays.
      • Antibody and cytokine profiling: Cytokine measurements and immunoglobulin isotyping are performed either through traditional ELISA assays or on a Bio-Rad BioPlex 200 System using the Luminex xMAP® technology, allowing for up to 50 analytes to be probed simultaneously from very small sample volumes.
      • Molecular-based assays: Molecular-based assays, such as quantitative PCR, are performed on nucleic acids (DNA or or RNA) extracted from tumor biopsies, peripheral blood, or other relevant tissues.
      • Investigator-operated Services: After training on instruments and analysis software, USC Norris members/personnel can utilize certain equipment on their own. This applies to FACS and data analysis, BioPlex 200 system for Luminex-based multi-plex ELISA plate reading, and ELISpot plate reading. 
USC Norris members with new projects first meet with one or both FCIM managers. During the consultation, the managers discuss the feasibility of a requested analyses. Protocols with appropriate controls are developed and logistics arranged. Formal and informal consultations occur thereafter regarding data interpretation and how the research should proceed. Investigators can request consultation for grant preparation when services of the Core will be used, or assistance with data analysis and figure generation for publications or grants. Up to 3 hours of consultation services are offered without charge.

Contact Us:

Flow Cytometry
Rong Lu, PhD

Immune Monitoring
W. Martin Kast, PhD

FCIM Policies:

      • For Flow Cytometry, users have 24/7 access to an online instrument reservation calendar operated on a first come-first serve basis (services from 10am to 5pm M-F). Trained users can work independently 24/7, allowing them great flexibility for accessing cytometers and sorters. For IM services, staff are available from 8:30am to 6:00pm, M-F. For grant deadlines, FCIM personnel may work overtime.
      • Billing and fee collection are managed by the USC Norris Administration through its automated FBS Priority System, which supports calendar reservations, tracking, billing, and payment for services and goods for all Cores. All services are fee-based.
      • USC Norris full members receive subsidized pricing on services (20-30%, service category dependent). No fees are incurred until experimental conditions are optimized as determined by the Core managers.
      • Investigators seeking help should contact the core managers well in advance of deadlines in order to be assured that assistance can be provided.
      • FCIM will provide initial free consultation to those requesting Core services to determine the feasibility and scope of a project. The potential outputs of the initial consultation period will be a feasibility assessment, project scope, and project plan including cost estimate and timeline. Once the project plan is developed and agreed upon, all further activities will generate Core charges.
      • Acknowledgment of the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center CCSG grant (NCI grant # P30CA014089) in scientific manuscripts is required when FCIM services have been provided.

FCIM Leadership

Rong Lu, PhD

Flow Service Director