Decker grant funds biology equipment for biofilm research

Binghamton University purchases florescence-activated cell sorter

Binghamton University received $333,901 this past week to fund general cell and bacteria research.

The Dr. G. Clifford & Florence B. Decker Foundation made the donation for the University to purchase a fluorescence-activated cell sorter, also known as a flow cytometer. The equipment, from BD Biosciences, will help with cellular biology and microbiology research.

According to Karin Sauer, a biology professor at BU, the fluorescence-activated cell sorter allows researchers to separate a mixture or population of cells into subpopulations.

“Flow cytometers are able to analyze several thousand particles every second, in ‘real time,’ and can count and actively sort particles/cells having specified properties,” Sauer wrote in an email.

The fluorescence-activated cell sorter will play a main role in biofilm research, according to a press release. Biofilms are thin layers of bacteria that can adhere to any surface. They contribute to 80 percent of infectious diseases, and can pose major health challenges to patients since they are antibiotic-resistant.

“One application of the fluorescence-activated cell sorter is related to the extraordinary resistance of biofilm cells to antibiotics by allowing the separation of resistant bacteria from the general population,” Sauer wrote.

According to Sauer, this instrument will be helpful to many facets of student research in addition to biofilm research.

“This method is a necessary requirement for many applications in tissue engineering, infectious agents research,” she wrote. “The study of cancer cells and genetic disorders, the development of smart drug development and deliveries and more. ”

The federal government provides up to 63 percent of funding for research, with state and local governments providing 14 percent. Donations from outside organizations currently fund 2 percent of University research. The Decker Foundation has provided BU with a total of $7.3 million in donations.

“What we can say is that this is an exciting new avenue of collaboration for the Decker Foundation and the University,” Sauer wrote. “Many schools are looking to supplement federal research dollars with money from industry and from charitable organizations, and this is an example of Binghamton doing just that.”

According to the University’s press release, the Decker Foundation said it hopes that the fluorescence-activated cell sorter will assist BU in becoming a premier public university in the 21st century.

“We are very excited about the new equipment and the impact it will have on ongoing research,” Sauer wrote.

Binghamton University has identified Health Sciences as an area that will guide future faculty hiring in the coming years. In addition, there are plans to launch a Health Sciences Core Facility, a lab for both on- and off-campus researchers.

“This new technology completes Phase I of the Health Sciences Core Facility, which will be a critical resource for the University’s faculty conducting health related research,” Sauer wrote.