Flow Cytometry Laboratory

The Flow Cytometry Lab utilizes a three-laser BD FACSCanto II, capable of correlated 10-parameter analysis and a two-laser BD FACSCalibur flow cytometer, capable of correlated 6-parameter analysis. Specimen prep instruments include a BD Lyse/Wash Assistant, A BD Sample Prep Assistant and a BD Medi-Machine. This CLIA certified laboratory is currently the workplace of 3 full time medical technologists and occupies a laboratory workspace located in the 5th floor of the Warren Building, Room 506.

The Director of the lab, Dr. Frederic Preffer PhD, is located in his office on the 4th floor of the Simches building, Room 4226 when he is not in one of his research or clinical laboratories or reviewing cases with pathologists and residents.


Frederic Preffer, MS, PhD, Director, Flow Cytometry Lab

The laboratory serves the entire Mass General clinical community, as well as outside cases from MEEI, The North Shore Cancer Center and other institutions. The majority of specimens include those obtained from peripheral blood, lymph nodes and bone marrow. However, fluids from various body cavities, [e.g., spinal, thoracic fluids] account for a significant number of additional cases. The laboratory works closely with the department's cytopathology service in immunophenotyping FNA's of lymph nodes and other hematopoietic tissue as well as lymph node and other tissue biopsy specimens obtained in the frozen section laboratory.

Between 1996 and 2009 the number of cases has increased significantly. Some of the laboratory growth has been appreciated in the form of additional new tests offered [e.g. stem cell T subset analysis]. For example, the "stat" stem cell/CD34+ cell assay was instituted in 1999. The introduction of this innovative assay in the Flow Cytometry lab greatly relieved the Pheresis and Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit of unnecessary stem cell collections, saving valuable hospital resources for more necessary uses.

In 2009, the Clinical Flow Cytometry laboratory processed leukocyte immunophenotyping for lymphoma and leukemia (3,110 cases), organ transplant T cell monitoring [e.g. ATG/OKT3; 265 cases), HLA purity evaluation (213 cases), Rituximab monitoring (555 cases), stem/CD34+ cell monitoring (456 cases) and T-cell subset (CD4+/CD8+) monitoring of HIV+ and other immunodeficiency patients (4,790 cases).

The laboratory worked very closely with Becton Dickinson to develop a staining robot (SPA) that would automatically process whole blood in a 'hands-off' way, and prepare sample tubes for direct analysis on the carousel of the FACSCalibur. The additional robotics has proved effective and useful in specimen preparation for flow cytometric analysis.

Academic and Research Accomplishments

Although the clinical Flow Cytometry Laboratory is primarily a service laboratory, it has made significant contributions to the body of published clinical literature, utilizing flow cytometry in numerous useful ways. For example, a novel binding site on human B cells for mycoplasma fermentans was described by Cheek, et al. in 1996. Nguyen et al. was one of the first descriptions of the clinical utility of a new monoclonal antibody that detected myeloperoxidase in 1998. The use of this reagent is invaluable in the diagnosis of myeloid malignancies. The ability of a lethal malignant NK tumor to pass from the maternal circulation to that of the fetus was diagnosed in our laboratory [Caitlin et al., 1999]. Since 1999 the laboratory has contributed to approximately 13 additional peer-reviewed publications.