The National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health has awarded two grants totaling more than $700,000 to physician-scientists at the Saban Research Institute of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).
The Gene, Immune and Stem Cell Therapy (GISCT) Program received a $500,000 grant to purchase a new fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS), “a technology that allows individual cells of the same type to be sorted from mixtures of cells,” said Kenneth I. Weinberg, director of the CHLA General Clinical Research Center and a Keck School professor of pediatrics, molecular microbiology and immunology.
“Painting cells with fluorescent dyes makes it possible to obtain pure populations of cells for study,” Weinberg said.
“By using different fluorescent dyes, we can use FACS instruments to simultaneously recognize different proteins made by the cells, determine the kinds of cells that are present, or determine whether an individual cell is dividing or resting,” he said.
FACS has been a key component of the GISCT Program’s research efforts for the past 10 years, but the program has grown to the point where it became necessary to purchase an additional FACS. The FACS facility will be directed by Weinberg and his colleagues at Saban.
According to Weinberg, the new sorter will be able to use eight different fluorescent dyes to stain the cell, and can sort nearly 30,000 cells per second, as compared to the current capability of Saban’s four-color sorter, which can sort 10,000 cells per second. The physician-scientists expect to have the new sorter operational by the end of the year.
The second NIH grant, totaling $204,000, will be used to improve the research facilities, as well as to purchase new research equipment, said Yves DeClerck, vice president of research at CHLA, director of the Saban Institute and Keck School professor of pediatrics and biochemistry and molecular biology.