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Christine Zhang

Dr. Christine Zhang at one of the Flow Cytometry Core Facility’s state-of-the-art machines.

UM facility recognized by national scientific platform group

August 14, 2020 — 

The manager of a University of Manitoba facility that offers flow cytometry-based services to academic researchers and the public sector was recently recognized by a national scientific group.

Dr. Christine Zhang, manager of the Flow Cytometry Core Facility at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, was one of six scientists and administrators recently recognized by the Canadian Network of Scientific Platforms (CNSP).

Flow cytometry is a laser-based tool for rapid detection and characterization of cells and other microbial particles based on their light scatter and fluoresence properties, routinely used in basic research for disease immunity profiling and clinical diagnosis of conditions like blood leukemia. Zhang’s facility has five state-of-the-art flow cytometry machines available for researchers. It is the only facility of its kind in Manitoba.

“This means quite a lot because it’s an acknowledgement of the work I do as well as the guidance and support of my two directors, Dr. Keith Fowke and Dr. Aaron Marshall and the Max Rady College of Medicine,” Zhang said. “This award lets people across Canada know that we have very strong research and a good supporting team.”

Zhang joined the University of Manitoba in 2012 after completing her Ph.D. in the University of Toronto, and was heavily involved in the initial establishment of facility. In that time the facility grew from offering support to the departments of immunology and the medical microbiology and infectious diseases to a wide range of clients, including the St. Boniface Hospital Albrechsten Research Centre and CancerCare Manitoba.

In 2013, Zhang established the first symposium dedicated to flow cytometry in Manitoba. The event attracts a wide range of disciplines in biomedical research, clinical laboratories, biotechnological companies and government laboratories.

“We had three successful symposiums that attracted over 100 people. We also brought in people from across Canada and the United States to show researchers in Manitoba the latest techniques,” she said, noting the next edition of the symposium may need to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Jude Uzonna, associate dean of research, Max Rady College of Medicine, said Zhang’s expertise is an important part of the facility’s success.

“Even if you don’t have the training, she will walk you through and help you analyze your results,” he said. “This award shows that not only do we have an outstanding core platform, but we have someone who is very capable of managing it. You can have all the technologies you want, but you need the right individual to be able to deliver the services. If not, it would be like someone who has an iPhone 11 but can only use it to make phone calls.”

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