As you know the NHLI and College are planning for a phased increase of on-campus research activity, so that some of you may be coming back to work in the coming weeks and months. This means that we need to prepare for the partial re-opening of the Flow Cytometry Facility (here at St Mary’s) in line with Government, College and NHLI guidelines as well as advice from the flow cytometry community. The way we operate will change and will depend on many factors, including the situation on public and private transport. Please be mindful of this when planning experiments as the support I will be able to give may be reduced.

Based on social-distancing guidelines, we have drafted the following rules which might change as this is a fast-moving situation.

The flow cytometry facility is shared by users from different research groups which causes a higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission and works against controlling the spread of potential new outbreaks. Therefore, it is important that additional care is taken when working in the facility.

Social distancing

Objective: To maintain 2m social distancing at the equipment including while arriving at and departing from the facility, and when travelling between sites.

  • All Facility users including staff must keep 2 metres apart.
  • All equipment usage must be booked in advance.
  • Only one user is allowed at one piece of equipment at a time.
  • There are multiple pieces of equipment in the facility so extra care must be taken and users need to cooperate to comply with the 2 m distance rule
  • There is now a minimum time of 15 min between bookings to prevent user overlap.
  • In an emergency, for example, a chemical spill or fire, people do not have to stay 2m apart if it would be unsafe.

Handwashing and Cleaning

Objective: To keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.

  • Wash your hands frequently, at least at the start and end of the session. 
  • Avoid touching your face and cough or sneeze into your arm, do not come to work if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Book 20 minutes extra at the end of your slot to perform cleaning procedures (instrument and workspace).
  • The user must clean the parts of the equipment which are touched during operation regularly with 70% ethanol. These are e.g. SIP arm, computer workspace, keyboard and mouse, scissors, pens, tube racks, pipettes, chairs etc. Spray ethanol on tissue and wipe everything down. Dispose of tissues in autoclave bins.
  • Wear the compulsory PPE at all times. Bring your own clean lab coat.


  • Must be booked at least 72 hr in advance.
  • Information (objective, fluorochromes, populations etc) about sort must be communicated to facility staff in advance via videocall or email.
  • Make arrangements if you or your backup person cannot collect your sorted samples.


  • I will work from home as much as possible and only come into the facility if remote help is not possible. Staff will be available via Microsoft Teams, What’s App, phone call and email. Teams can be downloaded as mobile apps.
  • All user trainings are currently suspended. This applies until we have implemented options for remote training.
  • In the event of an urgent engineer visit, all bookings will be cancelled to safeguard the 2m safety distance.