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Flow Cytometer, a game changer for LU and the community

James Henry, associate professor of Chemical Engineering, was awarded National Science Foundation grant funding for the acquisition of a flow cytometer/sorter for Lamar University. This device will be the first of its kind to be located between Houston and Lafayette, and will be available for multidisciplinary research on the LU campus.

A flow cytometer allows researchers to examine and sort individual cells at a rate of 100,000 per minute, giving far more precision to the practice of studying groups of cells.

“Without this equipment, we can’t do much quantitative analysis of single cells,” explained Henry. “The flow cytometer will allow us to collect data about individual cells based on what questions we are asking and tell us a lot more about what is happening with our cell population.”

Henry is primarily focused on Alzheimer’s research, and the device will aid research associated with Alzheimer’s disease therapeutic screening and identification and drug screening, as well as the identification of unique cancer types and markers and determination of environmental toxins. Henry has also spoken with local oncologists about the possibility of allowing them the use of the flow cytometer for local testing of biopsies.

“At this time, these samples are sent out of town for testing, which can add days or weeks to a cancer diagnosis,” said Henry. “Having a machine locally could be a great benefit to the community.”

While Henry anticipates the flow cytometer will be of interest to many LU academic departments, he is particularly excited about the opportunities that it presents to chemical engineering students.

“I want our students to understand that there are so many options for them, particularly in biotech and pharma,” Henry said. “This will allow them to have unique training and exposure to that side of chemical engineering.”