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Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center Flow Cytometry Core Facility


The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center (RHLCCC) Flow Cytometry Core Facility (Lurie Flow Core) was established in 1992 to serve the needs of the Cancer Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM), Northwestern University and other affiliated institutions whose studies require the measurement of selected characteristics of intact cells in a mixed population or the isolation of subpopulations for further analysis. A satellite facility was also established in late 2010 to better serve a strong investigator base on the Evanston campus.

The Lurie Flow Core provides the instrumentation and expertise for enhanced scientific interaction and productivity within Northwestern’s research community. This is accomplished by providing access to reliable, quality controlled, specialized and state-of-the-art technology in a cost-effective manner. The facility currently houses 5 high-end cell sorters including a 5-laser 50-parameter BD FACSymphony S6, 2 mid-level cell sorters and 5 high-end cell analyzers with 14-28 color capabilities, including one small particle analyzer. Additional services provided by the facility personnel include consultation, technical assistance on experimental design, sample preparation, data acquisition/analysis, instrument operation trainings and educational lectures. These services span the spectrum from routine flow cytometry assays such as immunophenotyping and DNA analysis to more complex high-parameter (14-26 colors) multi-laser measurements, including cell surface and intracellular analysis. The Flow Core also provides high-speed cell sorting for downstream metabolomic, transcriptomic, or proteomic analyses and can perform index sorting for single cell RNA sequencing. Due to its success in training investigators to operate instruments by themselves, the Flow core has operated 24/7 for the past four years. This has greatly increased its capacity and has allowed users to perform cell sorting and flow cytometric analyses at times consistent with the needs of their experiment.

Services Offered

The Lurie Flow Core is unique in the fact that it offers investigators the entire spectrum of cytometric experiment management, which involves anything from initial consultation on experimental design to the creation of graphics for publication. Research programs involving flow cytometry encompass individuals with a broad spectrum of training in basic and clinical sciences. The goal is to make available virtually any flow cytometry based assay regardless of the individual laboratories level of cytometry experience and expertise through the facility’s offerings and active, direct involvement in an investigator’s project. The core has three central functions. The main function is to provide support to help run current routine flow cytometric assays as well as to establish new protocols. Further, the staff will help acquire all samples on cell sorters or analyzers and help analyze the data. The staff is also involved in training individual investigators to acquire and analyze the data by themselves.

  • Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS): Cell sorting is integral for purification of bulk populations that can be further analyzed by a variety of techniques including mass spectrometry, protein analysis, transcriptional profiling, sequencing, epigenetics or for adoptive transfer studies.  All of our cell sorters are capable of single cell ‘index sorting’ that is required for single cell RNAseq studies. The recent acquisition of 5-laser 50-parameter BD FACSymphony S6 cell sorter now allows for sorting up to 6 simultaneous populations from complex high-parameter panels.
  • Analytical Flow Cytometry (cell analysis): Individuals may analyze up to 18 and 28 different parameters on an individual cell using the BD Fortessa and Symphony A5 and up to 50 parameters on the new Symphony A5.2 Spectral analyzers respectively.  These studies may include analysis from simple assays like cell cycle, apoptosis, to more complex immunophenotyping, including high-parameter panels of 20-30 colors and functional assays, and/or intracellular cell signaling.
  • Other Specialized Services including Consultation and Trainings: The core staff provides comprehensive consultation and full service that includes designing and validating specialized new assays, sample preparation and data analysis (has been particularly more helpful to clinically-orientated investigators allowing expansion of their laboratory-based studies). Additionally, the staff will train individual users to acquire and/or sort samples independently in the absence of a core facility staff.



Harris Perlman, MD
Faculty Director
(312) 503-8003

Suchitra Swaminathan, PhD
Managing Director
(312) 503-0139


Downtown Campus
Olson Bldg Rm 8-505
(312) 908-1294

Evanston Campus
Hogan Biological Sciences Building Room 4-130
(847) 467-6956


All manuscripts and grants presenting work supported by this core should include the following acknowledgement:

"This work was supported by the Northwestern University RHLCCC Flow Cytometry Facility and a Cancer Center Support Grant (NCI CA060553)."

All manuscripts and grants presenting work supported through cell sorting at this facility should also include:

“Flow Cytometry Cell Sorting was performed on a BD FACSAria SORP system and BD FACSymphony S6 SORP system, purchased through the support of NIH 1S10OD011996-01 and 1S10OD026814-01."