Expand each of the subsections below for further information

Users should:

  • Keep the space clean and tidy.
  • Return pipettes, pipette tips and other equipment after use.
  • Ask for assistance if unsure.
  • Report issues with cytometers and any other broken equipment.
  • Perform the full cytometer cleaning procedure at the end of each session.
  • Change sheath fluid and waste tanks as required.
  • Disinfect waste tanks as required.
  • Have good sample prep, and filter samples to prevent blockages.
  • Not overrun into the next user’s booking without asking next user for permission.

For immediate response during a session, users can contact facility staff via Instant messenger.

The facility is open to all Imperial College staff and students, and to users from outside the College (subject to availability).

Usage of any instrument in the facility is only allowed after completion of training and induction with facility staff member (see the Training section).

All new users need to:

  1. register on PPMS,
  2. agree to the Data Protection Acknowledgment for administrative and finance purposes (in PPMS),
  3. create a financial account in ‘Profile’ > ‘New account authorization request’. Bookings will be rejected until a valid financial account is set up.
  4. request to join the facility biosafety database. An entry is required for each system. For unfixed bacteria, yeast and fungus, HG2 and class 2 GMOs samples, upload of an approved bio1 form will be required. Bio1 form information to include

Induction, card access, training and cell sorting servicing will then be arranged with the facility staff. Users of Melody (522-SAFB), NanoFCM (522-SAFB), Fortessa II (638-SAFB), Calibur (3.3-Flowers) or CellStream (3.3-Flowers) require an additional induction to ensure safe CL2 working.

Read the Health and Safety section before using the facility for further information.

For specific information on Training procedures, please visit our 'Training' section.

To keep usage charges affordable, guarantee the survival of the facility and maximise access, it is essential that users are cooperative and disciplined with bookings.

  • Every usage must be booked in advance in PPMS.
  • PPMS tracking software will track user log in on cytometer computers. Please log out at the end of your session.
  • The booking time must correspond to the actual usage time.
    • Stop running samples 10-15 mins before the end of the booking to allow time to run the full cleaning procedure.
    • Do not overrun into the next user´s booking without contacting the next user for permission.
    • If usage is shorter, ‘Cancel rest of session’ in PPMS. Otherwise users will be charged 50% of the remaining time.
    • Users can be notified if other users finish early by selecting ´Receive a notification by email if someone cancels a booking´ in PPMS.


Cancellations done:

  • Less than 2 hours prior to the start time will be charged 50% of the time booked unless other user books that time slot.
  • If over 30 min late for the session, users will still be charged for the time booked and recorded as a ‘no-show’.
  • Within 24 hours prior to the start of sorting on Aria III will be charged 50% of the time booked.
  • Please contact facility staff if exceptional circumstances warrant the waiving of late cancellation fee. 

Last users of the day cancelling a session are responsible to make sure that the instrument is switched off. They need to email the previous user, the facility staff or switch it off themselves.

Request assistance

Assistance should be requested at least 48hr prior to the booking to ensure staff availability. The facility staff will confirm availability, or will suggest alternative times if no assistance is available.

If changes to filter configurations are required, they can be requested in PPMS by ticking Change of filter configuration (please specify) underneath the calendar before booking. 

For specific information on Cell sorting procedures, please visit our 'Cell sorting' section.

Network policy & virus protection

To avoid data loss and down times of the flow cytometers, users are required to stick strictly to the following policy:

  • No USB sticks or storage devices of any kind can be inserted into any flow cytometer computer.
  • Users are not allowed to install any software on any computers.
    • Do not download files, even from trusted websites.
    • Only allow scripts specifically from trusted websites, and only if needed for the visibility of the website.
    • Do not allow scripts for unknown websites or advertising pages.

Data management

At acquisition, all data are stored on local flow cytometers hard drives and should be backed up to Imperial OneDrive.

  • Databases will be backed-up weekly.
    • To maintain databases, data will be deleted after one month.
    • Deleted FCS files will be backed-up to an external hard drive and held for one year.
    • Experiment templates won't be deleted.
  • Users are responsible for storage and backup of their own data.
  • Users are advised to export and save FCS files to their Cloud storage immediately after acquisition to avoid data loss.
  • To reuse experimental settings, users should export the experiment template.


  • All new users must complete a facility induction. This will be part of initial training.
  • All users of Melody (522-SAFB), NanoFCM (522-SAFB), Fortessa II (638-SAFB), Calibur (3.3-Flowers) or CellStream (3.3-Flowers) will require additional induction for CL2 safe working.

User H&S records

Users are responsible to keep their Health and Safety records up to date. 

  • All users should log flow cytometry training in their personal competency records (FoNS, users from other faculties should contact their departmental Health and Safety team for information of training record system).   
  • All user projects should be logged with facility biosafety database, and bio1 RADAR for CL2 samples. 
  • Users should also read current facility and system-specific COP available on PPMS. 

Risk assessment

Prior to using any of the facility instruments, a risk assessment form needs to be completed. Please also refer to the Biosafety webpage for more information.

  • A new entry in the facility biosafety database is required if new work is to be undertaken or changed. For unfixed bacteria, yeast and fungus, HG2 and class II organisms/human cells, upload of an approved bio1 form will be required. Bio1 form information to include.
  • All samples brought into the facility should be contained within lidded tubes and a secondary container i.e. a polystyrene box.
  • A spillage protocol should be developed for each sample type.
  • Risk assessments must also be completed for use of hazardous chemicals.

Local rules

  • No eating or drinking in any flow facility labs.
  • Tubes should be visually inspected for cracks before placing on cytometer, particularly in CL2 rooms and when working with pathogens and GMOs. If the tube is cracked, aerosols will be released when the system becomes pressurised.
  • Sharps should be disposed of in yellow sharps bins.
  • CL1 samples can be disposed of in the orange waste bins.
  • CL2 samples must be returned to the user’s lab for disposal in accordance with local rules.
  • Users should inform staff if 1% virkon and 0.5% sodium hypochlorite are not suitable for decontamination purposes.

Lone working

Normal working hours are defined as 07:00 – 18:00, Monday-Friday. For access outside these hours and days e.g. weekends and bank holidays, the user has to seek authorisation via the Faculty of Natural Sciences Lone Working Policy.

Staff/PhD students using the SAFB Flow Cytometry Facility need to submit applications using the electronic system on the "Lone Working" Health & Safety webpages. Masters and BSc students and visitors without College status are not permitted to work at those times. Where workers from different faculties from Imperial College London are working in the facility, responsibility for the safety of those workers is shared between the worker’s own faculty and the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

We recommend that you carry a fully charged mobile phone at all times, and make use of the SafeZone App and buddy system

Laser safety

Lasers in the cytometers are classed as IIIb – damage to the eye or skin can happen through direct beam viewing or specular reflections. However, lasers are enclosed during normal operation, therefore cytometers are considered Class I.

  • Only an engineer or the flow cytometry staff can access the lasers.
  • Exposed lasers need to be reported to the facility manager immediately.

The Imperial College course “Introduction to Laser Safety” is recommended but not compulsory for users. 

Electrical hazards

Flow cytometers and their components operate at mains voltage. Live electrics are unexposed under normal operation, therefore risks are similar to those encountered in the use of other lab equipment.

  • Modification/maintenance of the equipment is restricted to the facility manager.
  • Only carbon dioxide fire extinguishers should be used around electrical equipment (including computers).
  • Creation of fine mist of EtOH should be provided by using dripper bottles for disinfection with 70% EtOH.

Incident and near misses

Incidents and near misses should be reported to the facility manager and logged via SALUS.

Emergency procedures

If the fire alarm sounds:

  • Users and facility staff should exit the building via the nearest fire exit.
  • When in SAFB, stairs should be followed to basement and building exited at the back. The building should not be exited by crossing the SAFB lobby.
  • When in Flowers, the fire exit route should be followed round the back of Flowers building.
  • The meeting point is in front of the Queen’s Tower.

If a fire is discovered in the facility:

  • The nearest fire alarm should be activated.
  • Fire extinguishers should only be operated by trained users, and if the blaze can be tackled safely.
  • Faulty fire alarms should be reported immediately via SALUS.

Medical and security emergency

In the event of a medical emergency, security should be called on 4444. 999 should NOT be called.

Unauthorised access to the facility should be reported to the facility manager.

The SK Flow Cytometry Facility is funded from a variety of sources to which we are accountable.  It is very important for funding purposes to show that the Facility is well used. This means that all users are required to acknowledge SK Flow Cytometry Facility usage in their presentations or publications (please also email us a pdf of published manuscripts). Failure to do so will mean revocation of the permission to make bookings until further notice.

An example sentence would be:

“The South Kensington Flow Cytometry Facility at Imperial College London is part-supported by funding from …”

We also ask that you consider how much use you have made of the facility staff time. If this goes beyond basic training and support please consider whether to acknowledge the staff member or even include them as a co-author as appropriate.

Please use Report a Publication in the PPMS homepage as soon as possible – it is very easy and a big help. Publications will be listed in the 'Selected publications' section on this site.