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Flow Cytometry (FACS ®)

Dr. Steffen Schmitt


Thanks to continous technical development and the use of novel fluorescent dyes, the field of application of flow cytometry has steadily expanded in recent years. Originally developed as a method in immunology and haematology (routine diagnostics), flow cytometry is increasingly used in other biomedical research areas and in basic medical research. Especially in single cell analysis (e.g. genome and transcriptome analysis), flow cytometry cell sorting plays an important role for obtaining and processing the sample material.

FACS® (Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting) analysis is based on a (stained) single cell suspension (or other soluble particles), which individually pass through a focused laser beam and the characteristic scattered and fluorescent light generated is detected separately. With this method, relatively large cell counts can be analysed in a comparatively short time (up to 30,000 cells per second). The number of parameters per cell that can be analysed increases with the number of lasers and fluorescent dyes used. With our cell sorting devices at the DKFZ we can detect twenty parameters at the single cell level simultaneously with the above-mentioned flow rate and sort four subpopulations in parallel.

For the staining of cells, fluorescence dye-labelled antibodies are generally used, which specifically recognize and label structures on the cells. By suitable selection and composition of the individual markers with different fluorescent dyes, several dozens of subpopulations can be distinguished in one panel.

The Cytometry Core Facility at the DKFZ is a central service facility that advises and supports scientists in the planning, execution and evaluation of flow cytometry analyses and cell sorting. Modern instruments (analytical instruments and cell sorters) as well as various software are available for this purpose. In addition, the flow cytometry core facility is involved in the training of DKFZ staff and doctoral students. The courses on offer can be viewed via the department for advanced training. Course materials are made available via the DKFZ's internal eLearning portal.

After training (participation of our lectures and practical introduction and/ or training by the core staff) and acknowledgment of our user-guidelines, the use of the analysis equipment is directly done by the users. The cell sorting devices are operated with the support of our core members. Registered users fill out an "Initial Sort Discussion Sheet" and reserve a sort time slot online, which must be confirmed by the core facility members.

DKFZ staff can find further information on our range of services and available equipment on the Intranet under Scientific Services - Core Facilities – Imaging and Cytometry - Flow Cytometry

For further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Dr. Marcus Eich: + 49 (0)6221 42-3645
Klaus Hexel: + 49 (0)6221 42-3641
Tobias Rubner: + 49 (0)6221 42-3640
Florian Blum: +49 (0)6221 42-3641

E-mail: cytometry(at)



Dr. Steffen Schmitt
Head of Core Facility Flow Cytometry (FACS®)


+49 6221 42-1261 (Office)
+49 6221 42-3640 (Lab)
+49 6221 42-3755 (Fax)

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