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Dr. Tony Marion Secures New Spectral Cell Sorter for UTHSC Researchers


Tony Marion, PhD, College of Medicine Emeritus Professor, may have retired in 2022, but UTHSC researchers are about to benefit from one of his final efforts on their behalf: a major equipment upgrade to ensure they have the latest and greatest technology for isolating and analyzing live cells.

Tony Marion, PhD

For the third time in his career, Dr. Marion, former director of the Flow Cytometry Cell Sorting Core (FCCS), has been awarded a National Institutes of Health S10 shared instrumentation grant. The S10 program, which supports the purchase of high-tech instruments to enhance research of NIH-funded investigators, has awarded $616,949 for purchase of a high-end spectral cell sorter, the Cytek Aurora CS. The Aurora CS will replace the aging BD FACSAria IIu sorter currently used in the FCCS and available to UTHSC and Memphis-area researchers.

The new sorter is equipped with five lasers (UV, violet, blue, yellow-green, red) including the in-demand 561nm laser for experiments utilizing mCherry or other fruit dyes. The instrument will also include three scatter channels (FSC, SSC, small-particle SSC) and 64 fluorescence channels. The advantage of a spectral sorter is that it captures the entire light spectrum of a fluorochrome, which in turn allows for larger panels (40+) to be developed, and the simultaneous use of more fluorophores that would otherwise be incompatible. FCCS users will see an improvement in data resolution and increased sensitivity with their current panels and will gain the ability to expand those panels as needed. The Cytek Aurora CS is capable of 6-way sorting into 1.5mL tubes, single cell sorting into 96-well plates, and index sorting. The new sorter is expected to arrive this fall and to be operational for FCCS projects in January 2024, after in-house testing. It will be housed in the FCCS core, located in the Molecular Sciences Building, 858 Madison, Room 214

“My goal with the FCCS shared resource lab has always been to make sure we have state-of-the-art equipment, so people have the capability to replicate whatever is reported by other researchers in their papers,” Dr. Marion said. “This new sorter will certainly do that.”

Dr. Marion initiated the movement to modernize flow cytometry and cell sorting at UTHSC back in 2003. That was the year he was awarded his first S10 for an LSR II, the latest technology at that time for flow cytometry. Three years later, he was awarded another S10, this time for a high-end cell sorter that would provide the analytical ability of the LSR II flow cytometer with cell sort capability.

“With his latest S10, Dr. Marion is the only PI on campus to receive an instrumentation grant in the past decade,” noted Deidra Daria, PhD, current director of the FCCS. “He wrote this grant as he was retiring in 2022 to make sure the core was up to date as he was leaving. He put UTHSC in a better spot than it was before.”

Thanks to his efforts, the FCCS Institutional Research Core continues to provide expert advice in the design and execution of multi-color fluorescence phenotyping schemes for analyzing and sorting cells from various tissues and host origins to all UTHSC researchers. That effort has included collaborative projects in a number of different areas.