Contact Us

283 Highland Avenue
West Newton, MA 02465-2513
Phone +1 (617) 965-6044
+1 (617) 244-7110

Cytometry Laboratory:
119 Braintree Street, Ste 102
Allston, MA 02134-1641
Phone +1 (617) 783-8392
+1 (617) 783-4750


Cytometry: No Business Like Flow Business?

Cytometry encompasses identifying, counting, and characterizing single biological cells and, by extension, other small particles. This can be done by human observers, using microscopes, or by instruments, called cytometers. Flow cytometers, which perform flow cytometry, measure cells as they pass through in single file in a fluid stream; cell sorters are flow cytometers which can physically separate cells with characteristics matching criteria set by the operator. At present, the tens of thousands of flow cytometers in use worldwide far outnumber other types of cytometers.

Dr. Howard Shapiro and his associates have provided flow cytometry hardware and software and consulting services to academic, government, and industrial organizations since the 1970s. Dr. Shapiro's book Practical Flow Cytometry (4th Edition, Wiley-Liss, 2003), a widely used text, is now available free as a searchable, printable .pdf file from 
Beckman Coulter's website. Hard copies can be purchased from Wiley and Amazon, among other sources. The first chapter of the book provides a concise, readable, and, according to many, entertaining introduction to the technology.

Some References...

Shapiro HM: Fluorescent dyes for differential counts by flow cytometry: Does histochemistry tell us much more than cell geometry? J Histochem Cytochem. 1977; 25:976-989. (PDF)

Shapiro HM: Microbial analysis at the single-cell level. Tasks and techniques. J Microbiol. Methods. 2000; 42:3-16. (PDF)

Shapiro HM: The evolution of cytometers. Cytometry. 2004; 58A:13-20. (PDF)

The Cytometric Future: It Ain't Necessarily Flow!

Although flow cytometers are effective, they are typically complex and expensive. Even the simplest flow cytometers may be too complex to be workable for such applications as CD4+ T cell counting in HIV/AIDS patients and diagnosis and drug resistance testing of malaria and TB in Africa and other resource-poor areas where cytometry could have the greatest impact on global public health.  A much simpler and more affordable alternative is becoming available. It is now possible to make many of the measurements previously only possible in flow cytometers costing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in smaller, simpler, cheaper widefield imaging systems costing no more than a few thousand dollars and operable close to the point of care even in relatively hostile environments. We and others are now focusing on development of the new instruments, which should facilitate infectious disease diagnosis, treatment and drug development in both developing and developed countries.

Some References...

Shapiro HM: “Cellular Astronomy” – a foreseeable future in cytometry. Cytometry. 2004; 60A:115-124. (PDF)

Shapiro HM, Perlmutter NG: Personal Cytometers: Slow Flow or No Flow? Cytometry. 2006; 69A:620-630. (PDF)

Shapiro H, Mandy F: Cytometry in malaria: Moving beyond Giemsa. Cytometry Part A. 2007;  71A:643-645. (PDF)

Janossy G, Shapiro H: Overview: Simplified cytometry for routine monitoring of infectious diseases. Cytometry B Clin Cytom. 2008; 74 Suppl 1:S6-S10. (PDF)

Shapiro HM, Perlmutter NG: Killer applications: toward affordable rapid cell-based diagnostics for malaria and tuberculosis. Cytometry B Clin Cytom. 2008; 74 Suppl 1:S152-S164. (PDF)