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Welcome to Flow Stars, candid conversations between Dr. Peter O'Toole and the big hitters of Flow cytometry brought to you by Beckman Colter at Bitesize Bio.
Peter O'Toole (00:00:11):
Today on Flow Stars. I'm joined by Bill Telford, head of NCI research Flow cytometry at the NCI Center for Cancer Research, and we've discussed how he started forging a career in flow optometry from an early age,
Bill Telford (00:00:25):
It was my sport rather than playing, you know, football or something. I was probably, I was 15, 16, 17 years old. So for, for, in the US, it would be sort of 10th, 11th, and 12th grade,
Peter O'Toole (00:00:36):
His extensive involvement in both national and international cytometry education programs.
Bill Telford (00:00:42):
Uh, the program has trained thousands and thousands of students. Uh, so it's been a wonderful outreach program
Peter O'Toole (00:00:49):
And providing instrument, technology and training to institutions in need around the world.
Bill Telford (00:00:55):
We donate old equipment. Um, we've been doing it for over 20 years now. And, uh, so we now have almost 30 instruments. I think it's now 30 instruments in the field. We try to train our, our recipients to fix their own equipment
Peter O'Toole (00:01:08):
And bizarrely, how we unwind after a hard day's work.
Bill Telford (00:01:12):
One, one little project we've done in my lab that has leaked over into my home very much is what we call the, make your own cytometer.
Peter O'Toole (00:01:18):
All in this episode of Flow Stars. Hi, I'm Peter O'Toole at University of York today on Flow Stars. I'm joined by Bill Telford, Bill, how are you today?
Bill Telford (00:01:32):
Oh, fine. Thank you. Doing well.
Peter O'Toole (00:01:35):
Thanks for joining me today, but I'm gonna ask the very first question is how on earth did you get into Flow cytometry?
Bill Telford (00:01:43):
Okay, well, um, my background I've always been a science person. Um, I've loved science from as long as I can remember. I did, um, in the US, we do what are called science fairs, uh, local and international science fairs. I did all that stuff and I met my first flow cytometer as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester. Um, Leon Wheeless, who is one of the kind of founders of flow cytometry was there and he had a one color flow cytometer. This is back in the early 1980s to do cell cycle and everyone was a buzz there about this instrument that could do, uh, that could measure DNA in a single cell. So I heard about it and I went over to look at it and I was very intrigued and that's kind of how I got started. So I used cytometry in many of the, uh, in my graduate work since then. Um, but ultimately I kind of kept staring back to it as a profession as something that maybe I could do, um, full time in my job. So that's kind of how I got started and, uh, it's just a, it's a junction of technology and biology and I really enjoy it, uh, quite a bit.
Peter O'Toole (00:02:51):
So back at those science fairs, certainly in the UK, that's not a big thing that we do. I I've noticed US that their big on science fairs, what sort of posters, what sort of these science fairs, You usually have a bit of a display with a poster or some information?
Bill Telford (00:03:03):
Sure, absolutely. So
Peter O'Toole (00:03:06):
What was on yours?
Bill Telford (00:03:07):
Okay, so you would do a project that would take, you know, probably months to do. And, um, mine involved at the time using antibiotics as an insect control measure to try to disrupt, uh, insect digestion, uh, and maybe control the insect. And this was of course not a very original idea. Um, it was being done in a lot of areas, uh, at the time. Um, but it involved, uh, you know, growing up the insects, testing the bacteria at the time, there were no genetic methods, everything was all biochemical tests, finding out what bacteria they had in them, and then using antibiotics to try to disrupt that. And, um, I did it for three years and, uh, and it was well received. Um, now I go to the, I, I judge science fairs and the projects are so much more sophisticated and the kids are so much smarter, you know, at the, at the time I competed, but now there's no way I could compete. You know, it's, uh, the level is so much higher, uh, than it used to be. But then you'd present your work, um, in a poster and they'd have judges who were University Professors and from Industry and such, and they would come around and there were local and state competitions. And then there was an international competition. Um, and I just love it was my sport base. I didn't I'm, I'm, I'm not a sport person. So this was, this was my thing in, in high school as a, as a secondary student, rather than playing, you know, football or something like that.
Peter O'Toole (00:04:37):
But that, that was my next question. How old were you?
Bill Telford (00:04:40):
I was probably, I was 15, 16, 17 years old. So for, for, in the US, it would be sort of 10th, 11th and 12th grade, right before, right before college.
Peter O'Toole (00:04:50):
How were you get to these antibiotics? How are you doing the assays? How
Bill Telford (00:04:53):
Are you? I went to my doctor and said, explained what I needed them for. And he, uh, wrote me the pres he actually, he got me the injectable form. He got me the, um, the clinical form. I, I had a lot of help from the peop you know, I had some, a couple university professors who helped me out. I had a, uh, a researcher at a local ag station. So I had a lot of people, uh, professionals around me who either took pity on me or humored me and, um, were willing to help out. And I couldn't have done it without
Peter O'Toole (00:05:26):
Loving the idea. And I'm now thinking of projects. I could get my children to go to the doctor and get me all sorts of different drugs.
Bill Telford (00:05:33):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, of course this was the eighties this is like, this is now 40 years ago. So, uh, uh, which is very sobering when you think about it. Um,
Peter O'Toole (00:05:44):
One of the classic questions, I, I guess, you know, one of the, one of my stock questions is what did you want to be when you were, when you were young, but I guess you wanted to be a scientist. Where did you see, what was your vision of a scientist then?
Bill Telford (00:05:58):
I, I did always want to be, I was very, you know, very strange child. I always wanted to be a scientist. And, um, and you know, you'd look at, you know, the, the Louis Pesteurs and the Alexander Flemings and these people who, you know, stumbled on, on great discoveries. And that's sort of what your image of a scientist is. Maybe, um, maybe when you're, uh, when you're that age. Uh, but it was just always fascinating to me. It was, and, and I'm, and I'm very grateful at the age of 56. I'm still not bored with it. I still like doing it. I'm always, I was always afraid. Maybe I'd get tired of doing it, and that hasn't happened yet. So,
Peter O'Toole (00:06:31):
Wow. I, I didn't realize you were 56, Bill.
Bill Telford (00:06:34):
Yes. I am becoming an old man very, very quickly.
Peter O'Toole (00:06:39):
Don't say that I'm coming up on your heels. So you can't say that still young. Uh, so 56, still looking, quite fit, looking very healthy. So you must be doing some exercise.
Bill Telford (00:06:51):
Oh yeah, no, I, I backpack. I, uh, I used to rock climb in my youth. I, I used to run in my youth. I did some things there were semi athletic. Um,
Peter O'Toole (00:07:00):
So do rock climb, backpack, used to run. Yes. You just had a knee operation.
Bill Telford (00:07:08):
I just had a knee operation. Yes. Which is kind of a right of passage for middle aged men now is to get their, get, to get their knees replaced. So I'm, I've got a knee full of titanium and titanium, alloy, and plastic right now. And, uh, it's working, working okay. As far as I can tell,
Peter O'Toole (00:07:25):
And that doesn't trigger the, uh, sensors at airport,
Bill Telford (00:07:27):
Uh, it probably will. And they're, they're, you know, you get a card saying you have it, but they still don't like it. Um, so, you know, what are you gonna do? But we'll find out I haven't made, I have not been cleared to travel on an airplane yet. They're all they get all worried about blood clots and things like that. So, so hopefully by September I'm, I'm planning to take a trip, uh, an international trip in September and we'll see what happens.
Peter O'Toole (00:07:53):
So I, I quite say, so they used, I believe robotics operation.
Bill Telford (00:07:58):
Yeah. They, well, it's sort of, it's sort of interesting because they now, you know, so much surgery is switching over to robotic systems. Um, and, and as my surgeon said, kind of defensively, I'm still doing the operation. He said, but he said the robotic system gives them a lot more information. Um, positioning kind of pressure on the, on the implant as it's going in. He said, I get a lot more information out of it when I use the, the, the assistance systems. Um, and he said that the procedures are much more uniform as a result, but, but it was interesting. They wheeled me into the, into the operating room and you're still awake because they have to do a spinal block. So you still need to be conscious for that. Um, and I'm looking around and there's like a work bench and there's racks of metal, you know, jigs and, and clamps and things. And I'm, and I'm thinking this doesn't look that different from my workshop at home, it had a kind of a blacksmith feel to it. . So I think there's still a lot of, um, kind of skill and, and artisanal, you know, uh, activity that goes on here in, in putting these in. Um, but, uh, but as my surgeon said, my, my surgeon was one of the ones who pioneered robotic technologies in our area. And he said, I don't do any other type. He said, it's, he said the technology's getting so much better and the outcomes are getting better. Um, so he has, he said, even from five years ago, he said, you know, you'll have a better chance of success than, than if I had done this procedure five years ago. So the technology is really moving like everywhere it's moving forward. And
Peter O'Toole (00:09:26):
, I'm glad you clarified that when you said the technology's getting better. Cause that I was worried that the technology's getting better, but still not as good as men.
Bill Telford (00:09:34):
Well, you know, I think knees, knees are tough. They're so, there's so much stress on them. There's not as much, um, you know, hips have more support around them. So knees are considered difficult because they are, um, you know, they, they, it's sort of where the rubber meets the road. A lot of stress is put on them and, and historically it's been a procedure that's been a little dicier just because of, um, for a lot of factors, but it's, it's encouraging to see that, that this is a, you know, like all areas of, of medicine. They're, they're not stuck. They're, they're, they're pushing, they're pushing the, the boundaries of it so far. I'm impressed so far, it seems to be working out very well.
Peter O'Toole (00:10:12):
That's good. And so I I'm intrigued how many blood tests did you have before they allowed you to do surgery?
Bill Telford (00:10:19):
Yeah, they're um, they do, they full of do a full metabolic panel. They do, um, uh, they check your cloting time. Of course they wanna make sure you don't have any, um, MRSA bugs in, in you. So they look for antibiotic resistant bacteria. Um, and in fact, before the surgery, they give you, uh, topical medications and such to try to reduce the possibility that you have these bugs on you, because that's a, a big problem for, for orthopedic surgeries as people get post-surgical infections. So they did an EKG, you know, they have a whole laundry list of things they do, but it's all very, you know, well organized. And, um, and, uh, they're very good at, I think at assessing risk. Um, I was not under general anesthesia. They, they gave me a spinal block. They gave me a nerve block and then they just gave me some propofol to knock me out, to make me go to sleep. Um, but I was not under a general anesthetic. They tried to be very conservative about, about putting you under too far, uh, if you don't need to be so, so you wake right. I was awake. The, the surgery ended at 1:00 PM and I was awake by 1.15. I was already waking, I could see the clock on the wall, which is so, yeah, it's amazing.
Peter O'Toole (00:11:29):
I was curious by the test to know if they used any flow cytometry in it. And the, the,
Bill Telford (00:11:34):
That's why you're asking,
Peter O'Toole (00:11:35):
Helping technologies, developing assays, and now you're benefiting from those for your own safety.
Bill Telford (00:11:40):
Not, not that I'm aware of, but, but I think, but I think when you work, as, you know, as you, you work in this field too, it's, um, this is Flow Cytometry is just one of many, many clinical tests out there. And there's a, there are common threads that run through all of them. You know, I see like a kinship between what we do in analytical chemistry, clinical chemistry, um, and things like that. And, and of course it's always great when a, when a research test becomes a clinical test, when suddenly, uh, you're, you know, something, something that the field has worked on now, um, now can benefit patients and, and can form a real clinical marker or something like
Peter O'Toole (00:12:17):
That. I still get excited when I get blood test results back. And some of them are flow cytometry ones thinking,
Bill Telford (00:12:22):
Yes, absolutely. I know
Peter O'Toole (00:12:24):
It's check these properly.
Bill Telford (00:12:26):
I've had, I've gotten differentials and things like them, like, oh, I, I could, I could interpret this. thank you. Yeah. It's always, always nice to, nice to see a connection to your connection to the real world.
Peter O'Toole (00:12:39):
You always wanted to be a cytometrist. Uh, no, um, a bio, a scientist
Bill Telford (00:12:43):
Peter O'Toole (00:12:44):
And some type of scientist bio side. I presume seeing as you were looking at antibiotic resistance and no antibiotics and the effects on insects and so forth, and you went into, so that's where you wanted to be. You got into your degree level.
Bill Telford (00:12:59):
Peter O'Toole (00:12:59):
Uh, what was your degree in?
Bill Telford (00:13:01):
Um, my degree was actually in, uh, in microbiology. Um, we had a, I was at the University of Rochester in the state of New York and they had a, um, a biological science program where you could specialize in one of five different areas, molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, and so forth. So you chose an area of specialization. Um, but it was an interesting place to do, uh, a degree because actually it was, it was not Medi it was not a medical institution where I was at a lot of very basic molecular biology, uh, gene regulation and, uh, and things like that were being done there, uh, using, you know, using, uh, protein sequencing and gene sequencing to establish, uh, you a hierarchy, uh, uh, hierarchies of, of, um, of bacteria and other things were being done. This is back in the 1980s. So we had sequencing technology at that point, but it was very hard to do. It was really kind of a critical time in molecular biology because suddenly a lot of these technologies were becoming more widely available and they were being employed very vigorously to study problems in, in, in biology. So it was an interesting place to do it. I got a good grounding in, in the molecular side of things. Um, but the medical school, uh, was right across the street. And that's where I took a volunteer position when I was a, a freshman, my first year of college. And I worked in a cancer biology lab. And that's where the that's where, uh, uh, Leon had his flow cytometer, his, uh, his very old cytometer. It had, um, uh, eight inch floppy discs, probably no one who's listening to this program will remember the, the, the, the old days of, of data storage. Um, but eight inch floppy discs. And, uh, the computer technology was very, was very primitive and very error prone the time. Um, but it was very exciting cuz it just sort of clicked with me. I said, oh wow, this is, this is where engineering and physics and biology meet. This is, uh, you know, you've gotta be able to understand all of these things to be able to.
Peter O'Toole (00:15:05):
So what was your first Flow Cytometer then
Bill Telford (00:15:07):
My first Flow cytometer. Yes. Um, well actually I, um, uh, I went to work as a technician, uh, for a couple years after my undergraduate degree and we had, um, a BD fax scan, which was brand new at the time this machine came out in the late 1980s, it was the first small multicolor cytometer. You well know. Um, so it was really a, a critical machine, not just for our field, but for medicine in general, because suddenly flow cytometry. Wasn't something that you, you know, had to have a big, expensive machine that needed a specialized operator to run. It was something anyone could run. But actually when I did my graduate degree, I worked on a, on a very, a much older instrument, an ortho site alograph mm-hmm . I went to Michigan State University, uh, which is an agricultural school in the American Midwest. And we had an instrument that was even old even by standards then. Um, but it was a great machine to work on because everything was out in the open and you had to get in there and adjust it and tweak it and align it. And, um, and it was a terrific instrument to learn on. Um, so I've worked on the old ortho machines, the old BD sorters, like the facs star, the star plus the 440, um, I'm, I'm old enough that I, I wasn't around for the birth of flow cytometry, but I was around for sort of the, the childhood of flow cytometry. So, um, it's one of the only advantages of age is it gives you a historical perspective on, on the development of the field. Um, I also got to interact with a lot of, sort of the old boys to flow. Um, the probably 15 or 20 scientists who really founded the field. And, and one of the great things about flow is it's not a very old field, which means a lot of these people are still around and, um, uh it's, it was a terrific, you know, it's an honor and a, and a privilege to be able to do some things with them because they, uh, you know, they, they, they founded the feast basically, and they, they saw it as their job to pass that information on to the next generation, you know, to keep, to keep the technology moving forward.
Peter O'Toole (00:17:14):
So on, on, on the side of passing on knowledge and education. So, you know, I presume you're talking about likes of Paul Robinson Howard Shapiro.
Bill Telford (00:17:24):
Mm-hmm, , mm-hmm
Peter O'Toole (00:17:25):
For that, but, but it's now being passed on to yourselves and the other generations to now be those advocates. Yes. And I think in the developed countries, there there's a lot of knowledge there's courses. There's a lot of access material mm-hmm , but I know through ISAC as well, you're doing a lot for the education of flow cytometry. Mm-hmm not just in the US. So tell, tell us a bit about where you are trying to educate mm-hmm achieving that.
Bill Telford (00:17:56):
Absolutely. Sure. And this is something, you know, you're involved, you know, you and Karen and many others are involved in too, um, ISAC, which is the International Society for the Advancement of Cytometry, which is our professional society, um, places, a lot of emphasis on education, particularly international education. Um, so again, I was very lucky. I was in the right place at the right time. Uh, back in the early two thousands, I got involved in the Indian American, the Indo US flow cytometry, uh, education program that was started by Dr. Awtar Krishnan at the University of Miami. He was running these cytometry workshops in India. Um, and, and I was very lucky to get associated with that. And since then, that effort has expanded tremendously. It's now part of ISAC, uh, organization. We we've done dozens and dozens of workshops all over the world. Uh, in, in many, many countries, we have faculty all over the world, Michael Ormerod, who, who sadly recently passed away was a, was an integral part of that program. Um, he did distance learning in cytometry long before distance learning was even called distance learning. And he was a, he was a, uh, he was very heavily involved in that program. Um, but we have faculty all over the world. We have faculty in China and Australia, uh, India now, uh, many, many, uh, uh, participants in this. And, uh, the program has trained thousands and thousands of students. Uh, so it's been a wonderful outreach program. And I think one of the things that Krishan, uh, did a great job of is when we would do a workshop in a country, if we had someone there who was particularly good, someone who was great in organization, or was a, a good teacher, he would kind of grab them and say, Hey, join our club. You know, be part of our, be part of our workshop. So the Indian faculty would start going to Turkey and they'd start going to China and others as, as part of these international teams. So it's a very international effort. It's not focused on any one particular country. Um, and I've been very, it's been a privilege to be part of it.
Peter O'Toole (00:20:01):
So you sent some photos, to which i presume.
Bill Telford (00:20:04):
Peter O'Toole (00:20:05):
Bill Telford (00:20:06):
Sure, sure. So this is actually, this is our, uh, group in, uh, Nepal. This is, uh, Tribhuvan University, it's the central department of biotechnology. Uh, the gentleman on the right, this is Dr. Krishna Manandhar. He is the department chair of, of this group. And, uh, and he's a member, he's a member of ISAC. He's actually a member of the live education task force, which is part of this international, uh, uh, program. Um, this was actually involving an instrument we installed there a few years ago, uh, FACS Calibur over here, but we've done a number of workshops there. We've done several live ones. We, we did two virtual ones during the pandemic and, uh, we'll be back in October actually to do one. Um, so this is very representative of the type of group that we, that we work with. Um, Napal has been actually, they've been a wonderful, wonderful group to work with. They do a lot of immune monitoring, uh, for diseases like dengue. Uh, so they have a real need for flow cytometry for research cytometry, and, and they're tremendously motivated. Um, and they have a patient population that they have good access to. So, um, so they've been wonderful folks to work with. And, uh, this has been repeated by not just by me, but by many others, uh, all around the world.
Peter O'Toole (00:21:22):
And this is, this was four, five years ago.
Bill Telford (00:21:25):
This was probably 2017. Yeah, this is actually, uh, in 20, this was actually just a few months ago.
Peter O'Toole (00:21:31):
You, you can see by the face covering. So this is more recent.
Bill Telford (00:21:34):
Yes. This is you. Yeah. You look, look for the masks. This is Dr. Dina over here. Dina runs a, uh, program called the center for health and disease studies in Napal. This is also in Capmandu. Uh, we also gave them FACS Calibur flow cytometer. Um, so this was our installation, uh, over here. And this was just back at the end of March. Uh, this was the trip where I decided to get COVID actually,
Peter O'Toole (00:21:56):
You got COVID whilst,
Bill Telford (00:21:58):
While I was in Nepal. Yes. And, and, but they took wonderfully good care of me. I, I quarantined in my hotel and the, the local, uh, head physician at the hospital called me every day, check in on me and the hotel delivered my meals. And, and it was a actually, they took tremendously good care of me. Um, but this was after I was out of quarantine. We, um, we set up an instrument, uh, for them as well. So
Peter O'Toole (00:22:25):
I, I have a, we have this discussion in different communities, place, cytometry, microscopy, and the reuse, or the, the, the passing down of instruments, uh, because obviously instruments are robust. Even our facility, we will have, we had the Cyans in our facility for oh gosh, possibly 18 years.
Bill Telford (00:22:48):
Right, right, right.
Peter O'Toole (00:22:50):
No correction, maybe 20 years, low 90 18.
Bill Telford (00:22:53):
They're old enough. They're almost old enough to drink,
Peter O'Toole (00:22:55):
You know? Yeah. And they were still fit for purpose for, yeah. It was nine colors. Yes. It's not the all singing all dancing latest systems that we have. Mm-hmm many, it was perfectly gave them the answers that they needed. So it's more than good enough. And actually we've, we've moved our into teaching into our teaching labs now to give them there, but sure. But is there a challenge of taking systems that the commercial companies no longer support, right. Putting them into countries that are not so wealthy don't have necessarily good access to engineers or spare parts. How are they coping with keeping these things running over time? Cause that must be a major challenge. It's a challenge for us to keep systems that are off the shelf serviced running
Bill Telford (00:23:42):
Peter O'Toole (00:23:43):
over there. They haven't got the support network because they haven't got the same number of systems. So it's not the same number of engineers and the parts are now limiting. So how, how are you managing that?
Bill Telford (00:23:53):
Well, just to, to give a little background, we, we have a program at the, at the NCI where we donate old equipment. Um, we've been doing it for over 20 years now. And, uh, so we now have almost 30 instruments. I think it's now 30 instruments in the field. Uh, we have they're on all six inhabited continents. Um, but it is an enormous challenge, uh, because we're, we're not, we're not well funded. First of all, um, we are giving used equipment and as you say, the equipment is getting older and, uh, the parts and other things are becoming, becoming an issue. The, uh, you know, these, uh, as you say, you, you can't imagine another instrument technology where a 20 year old instrument would still be useful, you know, imagine a, a, a, you know, a next gen sequencing system or something, you know, they get, they, they go obsolete every two years. Uh, so, but these old flow cytometers are still very useful. Um, and if you only need to look at a few things, they're they're, they were wonderfully built. They were, they're just as sensitive as the new machines. The only difference between the old and the new is we can just do more, more simultaneous tests on the new machines, but the old ones are still very useful. Um, so what we do is we get the old equipment, we refurbish it, we ship it abroad, and then we try our best to support it. Um, I have a stock of parts. I have connections in the industry where we're able, we're able to upgrade a lot of our equipment. So for example, the old gas lasers, we now, whenever we renovate a machine, we just yank out the old gas laser, put in a newer, solid state laser and ship it with that. Um, so we're doing our best to try to keep these things running. Uh, but it's a challenge. And during the pandemic, it was of course, a major challenge because we couldn't travel anymore. So we had equipment breaking down left, and right. And there was nothing we could do about it. Um, but you're right. They can't get access to service even when they can get access to service. It's generally very expensive. Um, and the equipment is aging aging, absolutely what we're trying to do now. And I know you've worked on things like this as well is to try to get new equipment into labs, um, modern equipment, uh, rather than the old stuff, we, we see the old stuff as a stop gap. It's a, it's a way for labs to get started on this technology to begin to do some research, to get their people trained up, but then they should be getting something modern. Um, and what we're looking at, and what ISAC is looking at now is trying to, uh, get the manufacturers to provide newer equipment that we can then support, um, as, as we've supported, um, the old, the old equipment.
Peter O'Toole (00:26:33):
Yeah, no, you actually, we were very fortunate. And Paul Kane uh, was part of a large proposal, which funded into east Africa, mm-hmm and supported new instruments, European funding. We're very lucky to have got that funding to support that. Uh, but even then, I, I think there's challenges in there's cultural differences in the way that some universities operate mm-hmm mm-hmm and the sharing, oh, we are so used to now having core facilities. So you've got a successful core facility. How many cytometers do you have?
Bill Telford (00:27:06):
Oh, we have nine or 10 at least now. Yeah. And which is very normal
Peter O'Toole (00:27:10):
Comes to use your cytometers and there's this economy in numbers everyone's using it is expertise. It can now be sustained cuz everyone's that expertise. Whereas yeah, we go back 20, 30 years ago, people used to have their own cytometer in their own lab. And culturally there's all places in the world that want to have their own badge. So everyone with them and it's not open access and that makes it harder to sustain mm-hmm so how are you finding that when you're putting your systems in how open access are they really when you go in?
Bill Telford (00:27:49):
Sure, absolutely. I mean, we, we, you know, because we are a core and, and we believe in, I, you know, I believe passionately in the core cytometry in the, the core facility kind of ethos in terms of making the equipment as open as possible. So we, um, we try to find recipients who are willing to do this. The Nepal facility is an excellent example of this because they are very open with their equipment. They're very willing to share. And, um, and they've been very generous with, with other groups since this is a country that really doesn't have a lot of resources, um, in this area. So we try to identify recipients that are going to do this. Uh, but you're absolutely right. A lot of these institutions will get the machine in and then build a, you know, build a Barb wire fence around it and say, well, we're not letting anyone get access to this. Partly because they're possessive about it. Partly because they don't want anyone to damage or break it. You know, it's a, it's a valuable resource and they're very sensitive to this fact.
Peter O'Toole (00:28:46):
Gosh, I think that's a problem. Even in, even the UK historically, there's still a few places. I think that still have their own instruments and they won't let others use it purely because if they break it, their research stops. Yeah. Uh, because it's so difficult sometimes to get repaired. And just sometimes it's not a case that they're not open access. It's a case that other academics don't necessarily want to use it. They want their, it, it is still a, a badge to have their own to it's it's, it's taking time. Mm-hmm I think to change that, I think we're very fortunate in the groups that we work with are being very open mm-hmm , but I'm, I'm quite sure there's other facilities that are popping up around them. Uh, just, just cuz that's the way funding is falling out. Sure.
Bill Telford (00:29:30):
Peter O'Toole (00:29:31):
Is India. Where else are you helping besides India and Napal.
Bill Telford (00:29:35):
Okay. So, well we have a, we have a large presence in India and I will just say, you know, one, one thing, um, we and our Indian colleagues have tried to do is encourage the, the formation of core facilities because it's not a common thing there. And, um, and one thing that ISAC is terrific about is, is, is recognizing the value of core facilities and the people who run them. They have this shared resource lab emerging leaders program. Um, uh, we've had a number of, of, of, uh, of awardee of this in India, uh, who are running, who are running cores. Um, but in terms of training, uh, we've uh, done a, a great deal of it in Asia and I, and I, and I am not doing a lot of the, this is a large group of people. Uh, people like Paul Hutchinson in Singapore, uh, the Australian group, um, they've done training in Singapore, Vietnam, uh, uh, we're, we're very fortunate to have good colleagues all over the world. Uh, uh, Indonesia has been, uh, we, we have terrific colleagues in Indonesia who have really taken the initiative and they just organized their own meetings. Now they include us, but, uh, we don't have to do anything. They just set everything up on their own. They have, there's a very, uh, a very powerful, um, uh, cytometry society, uh, there. So certainly Southeast Asia, China, uh, which really doesn't need our help. They're, they're, they're doing terrific science on their own, but we have good connections in China where we've done a number of collaborative workshops with our Chinese colleagues. Uh, we're getting more into south America now. Um, it's an area that, that really there's no excuse for it. We haven't paid a lot of attention to, uh, but now we have good ISAC membership in South America. People like Mariela Bollati, sorry. Uh, who is in Uruguay. She has really taken the lead in organizing workshops, uh, down in the Southern horn of south America and Uruguay and Paraguay and, and Argentina and other places. Uh, we have instruments going down there now. Um, Mexico, uh, Mexico, central America, uh, Eastern and, uh, central Europe, uh, Tomas Kalina who's in, in the Czech Republic, uh, is, is, um, an ISAC executive member. And he is, uh, doing a lot of work to he, he wants to basically do a workshop in every, in every central and, and Eastern European country is his current goal. We've done workshops in France. We've done a lot in the US. Um, we're not just doing them abroad. We're, we're, we're, we've done, we've done a number in the, in the states as, as well. So, um, it's, it's a, it's a, an enormous organization now and we have terrific representation all over the world where the local groups just, they, they do all the work, you know, if we're lucky we get to go, but, um, but they do all the work for it.
Peter O'Toole (00:32:18):
So I, I have a, maybe a strange question, just thinking while we're talking about how yeah. Core facilities are really the la thing the last 20 years or so, and the way they've sort of taken it from the individual labs into a shared resource, do we see a risk that there's a whole generation of scientists now, academic scientists that don't remember the days without shared facilities? Mm-hmm
Bill Telford (00:32:42):
Peter O'Toole (00:32:42):
Mm-hmm that they might start to want their own instruments again.
Bill Telford (00:32:45):
Sure. Oh, it's already happening.
Peter O'Toole (00:32:47):
so, so this is really good. Interesting. Isn't it? Yeah. Cause you know, if you go back, academics are quite happy to put their instruments into shared resources to core facilities because the responsibilities, the difficulty, the downtime, the lack of access when theirs is broken and they need to get another system, whereas putting it into one facility everything's, there's equitable, they're not responsible. And there's someone to train someone to fix. Someone to chase engineers, and now there's this whole, whole new generation coming through. That's never seen these problems and thinking, well, wait a minute, I'm having to fight to, I haven't got the exact system I want. I'm having to fight for time. Maybe sometimes I'm going to get my own. Wouldn't that be easier? Mm-hmm how are we going to stop sort of going back full circle to come back again, because no question, the most equitable way our funders really understand this and that's, that's our biggest strength, but locally, if people are getting local funding, how do we stop this, this INFR once you've got little islands being formed, mm-hmm it can affect the core structure.
Bill Telford (00:33:55):
Yeah. It's tough. And it's something, I mean, I'm at a, you know, I'm at a large institution where, where we do have many large labs that say, you know what, maybe we've crossed the threshold where we should have our own instrument. And I try very gently to fi fight it. If you will, to say, you know, to just say, look, there are many advantages to sh to using a shared instrument facility, the instrument will be quality controlled every day. If it breaks down, we'll have an engineer in within a day. Um, there are, it's, it's more economical in the long run. Um, we have many stories of, of people who have gone out, gotten their own instruments and it hasn't worked well. Yeah, because the instrument is down a lot and there's, and the person, the post, or the research fellow who learned how to run the machine has now gone on to another job and there's, they didn't pass that information, their knowledge onto anybody. Um, but it's something, I mean, you know, for running a core facility and you know, this too, it's something we kind of are constantly having waging a low level battle about to, to make sure that the instrumentation remains, uh, centralized. And I think as, as things get more complex, particularly for things like self sorting or high dimensional flow, which is a lot harder, um, you really wanna have a, you wanna have a, a core of experts. You wanna have people who this is, this is what they do. This is all they do. And, and their purpose is to assist the, the scientists around them. Um, but you're right. I think the, uh, the funding mechanisms that, um, I I've been on some MRC, you know, large instrument review panels and such, and they really demand that that equipment will be accessed by a large group of people. You know, if, if, if you're a individual investigator going in with a proposal, you better have nine or 10 other scientists on that proposal, too, with very clear objectives and a clear plan about how it is going to be shared, not how it's just gonna sit in your lab and the, the, um, the U in the us, the NIH, um, uh, shared instrument grant program is the same way. The, the best way to get your grant refused is to not demonstrate that it's going to be a shared instrument and, and you'll get, you'll get turned down immediately. So that, that helps us a great deal. Fortunately.
Peter O'Toole (00:36:07):
The NIH are there, uh, certainly BSRC, uh, MRC BBSRC. So the UK funders are very much there. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Then you'll hear an academic say yes, yes, yes. But, you know, actually I will use it a hundred percent of its time. Mm-hmm but surely the argument is, yes, you'll use it a hundred percent of the time, but winter be better to have 200% over here when you need it. And when it breaks, you've got, I think most do get it, but I'm, mm-hmm, just, just a little niggle that it could go backwards. And you said how the complexities increasing, so the importance sense of having experts, but unfortunately, unfortunately I dunno if that's the right word to use manufacturers are making them so much easier to use. They actually to walk up and even do your own self sort. Now mm-hmm, , I've gotta say the SRTs, someone can walk in almost not have had training and you'll walk you through it and sort mm-hmm,
Bill Telford (00:37:06):
Peter O'Toole (00:37:07):
Then, you know, there's a lot more in the interaction with the data and the gating, but the user can use it. And I think there's a danger that people all forget the, the, not appreciate the skills mm-hmm that are needed to get good sorts because the instruments enable you just to sort so, so, well, that's a compliment by the way, to the SRT is just it's then down to the user's intelligence of how to strategically gate their data.
Bill Telford (00:37:33):
Sure. And I mean, the system you bring up is an excellent example of this, cuz it is probably one of the, sort of the few systems out there that has, I think, successfully, uh, created a cell sort that can be used by many people. You know, it's, it's, it's well, it's user friendly. It's well designed, but I think it could still sit in a core facility and people can come, I'll use it the way, the way they would use a, you know, a benchtop machine. Um, but again, trying to convince the powers, you know, I, I can convince our money managers and things like that, that this is a great idea. But if, but if I have a big shot investigator who has 20 people in their laboratory in their mind, they're thinking, well, I, I ought to have my own equipment and if I were them, I'd probably feel similarly about it. so it's our, I think it's our job to really convince them that, um, that, that they'll benefit from having, having equipment in a shared facility. And what we've done a number of times is in equipment that is in individual labs after it looks like it's not going well, we'll go to them and say, let us, we'll, we'll maintain your equipment for you. It won't really be in our core, but we'll come in, we'll do a QC every few days. We'll, we'll kind of, uh, you know, quietly, uh, kind of ghost our way into their labs and, and, and put the equipment under our ages, even if, um, even if it's not officially there, uh, you know, there, there are different strategies you can use to try to deal with this problem.
Peter O'Toole (00:38:58):
I, I, I'm gonna change tack a bit. Yeah. Running a core facility, uh, always has its challenges. What would you say is the biggest challenge that you face? What are the most difficult difficulties in running a core facility?
Bill Telford (00:39:10):
I mean, there are many difficulties. One of them is, uh, for me and, and I've been in the field for a long time and there's a whole new generation of, of, you know, invest of, of flow people who are now coming up, uh, behind me is that, uh, you know, data analysis has changed tremendously. We, we kind of lagged behind the, by the genomics and proteomics world for a long time in perhaps not being so sophisticated about our analysis, because we, weren't looking at very many simultaneous, you know, elements, parameters as we would call them. Uh, that is certainly changed in cytometry. Now we're looking at 40 50 color data. Uh, we're now adopting the same bioinformatics, uh, uh, techniques that, that are used in the genomics and pro mix world. And for me, it's been a real learning curve because it's something that, that I didn't have to deal with as much earlier. Um, so getting up to speed on that, you know, being able to do probability state analysis and flowsom and phenogram, and, uh, all these other technologies, um, has been, has been a real, uh, a real challenge, uh, for us keeping current in the technology.
Peter O'Toole (00:40:20):
Yeah, it's, it's a very different skill set, you know, it is,
Bill Telford (00:40:23):
Peter O'Toole (00:40:24):
It's the acquiring the data, the technical expertise expectation, but now the analysis is a completely different toolbox, I would say. So after a hard day's work, you've got the stresses of learning all these new challenges in the time. What do you do at home to relax?
Bill Telford (00:40:40):
um, I still do a lot of outside stuff. You know, we, uh, my wife and I, you know, we, we backpack, uh, um, I am a science geek though. And, uh, and actually during the pandemic, a lot of our, uh, you know, my, my, my sort of Lab thing, sort of the stuff that I was doing related to cytometry, but not strictly part of my job ended up migrating home. Um, so, uh, we, one, one little project we've done in my lab that has leaked over into my home very much is what we call the, make your own cytometer, where we have built a teaching instrument. Uh, there it is. Yes. Um, we, we actually stole this, you know, don't worry. You're okay,
Peter O'Toole (00:41:21):
I'll go, I'll go
Bill Telford (00:41:23):
With the computers. I'm trying to get down underneath it. Um, we, we actually stole this idea. This is not our idea. Uh, back in the early nineties, the Los Alamos national labs flow group, which was Los Alamos, was one of the birthplaces of the, one of several birthplaces of the flow cytometer. Um, decided that a great way to teach cytometry would be to actually have students build a machine with their own hands and get it running a working instrument, not a model. So, um, they built a system like this, and, uh, it's been a fixture ever since in the annual training courses in the states, the ones that in met New Mexico and Maine, um, the annual course, which is now I think, going on its 45th or 46th year. Um, so we love the idea. Um, I got to build it when I was a student and it was a blast. It's the most popular lab in the course. Uh, so, uh, we decided back in about 2013 to build a, a road system, one that we could pack in a suitcase and, uh, take to international workshops. So this is what it is. Um, this is actually slightly older version. We now 3d print a lot of it. Um, but, um, it's something where I've gotten to sort of cross that dangerous barrier between work, your work life and your play life. Um, and, uh, gotten to learn a lot of new technologies, like, like 3d printing and electronics and, and, and coding and things like that to try to build a system. So, so that is a working system it's fully functional. We've taken it. Uh, I think now to 13 countries, we've done over 25 workshops with it. Um, we tried to, we put together a video version during the pandemic, which was kind of a mixed success. Um, it's something that really, you want the students to get their hands on. Um, and the students absolutely. The younger ones absolutely love it because this, this is very comfortable turf for them. They, they grow up now, you know, building drones and RC cars and they code and, um, where it, where it's, it's newer for me, for them, this is very familiar, a very familiar technology. So, um, so they have a blast with it. And, um, we, we have, uh, one machine in, in India. We we've built, I think, four or five of them now. So we have an instrument in India and, uh, we're gonna try to put one in Europe. I think too, uh, where the instrument will actually sit there. We'll have people who already who know how to teach it. Um, but when we go to meetings in these areas, we don't have to bring the system with us. We can just we'll have one on site. Uh, but it fits in two suitcases. It weighs, uh, under 45 kilos. So in two suitcases, so it can go as checked luggage. We don't have to ship it in. We can fly with it as checked luggage.
Peter O'Toole (00:44:06):
That's still pretty hefty.
Bill Telford (00:44:08):
It is hefty. Well, we're trying to get it down in weight and that's actually, it's, that's, that's the old weight. Um, well,
Peter O'Toole (00:44:13):
Well, well, where's the weight in it. I'll just reopening it. Obviously you can get rid of your,
Bill Telford (00:44:17):
She, oh, you know, it's like packing a suitcase. You don't think you're carrying very much, but you can't get the lid shut. Um, we've tried to design it in ways that are, uh, the, the, there's some 3d printed components here. The base plate is carbon fiber. There, there is one company in the world that makes carbon fiber breadboards in Germany. They're the only people that do it. So they've built breadboards for us. Um, and otherwise we have our computer and everything else, but it goes in a, the case weighs something, you know, it's like building a satellite. You, you, you try to get the weight down, down, down as much as you possibly can. So we've been, so we're now, um, it's mostly 3d printed now. Um, we have a little, and, and what's wonderful too, is that the technology now allows this, um, lasers are tiny now. Yeah. And, uh, they're getting cheaper and cheaper. Uh, the, uh, uh, we're, we're still facing challenges in the electronics and the software and such, but there's so many cool off the shelf. Uh, you know, maker components now, things like things like raspberry pie and Arduino and , um, you know, you can go on Amazon and buy all sorts of materials and components. You can 3d print any, you know, so many things. Um, the time really is right for this. And, and what I really hope is other people will do this. We don't wanna be the only people doing this. Other people should be working on this and, and bringing their expertise to bear. So we're trying very hard to encourage other groups to, to, to take this idea and run with it and, um, and, and do something with it.
Peter O'Toole (00:45:45):
So, okay. So moving up. So, so you've got yeah. At home, you're now making cytometers
Bill Telford (00:45:51):
Right. , which is a very slippery slope. when they start showing up in your living room. That's okay.
Peter O'Toole (00:45:59):
Do you read a book or TV? Do
Bill Telford (00:46:01):
You yes, of course. I absolutely read a book. I absolutely read books. I love, I love, I love good sci, you know, I can't, you can't get away from science, but I love good science writing. I collect it. Um, it's, it's wonderful to see, not just scientists, but journalists and others do do high quality science writing. Um, just
Peter O'Toole (00:46:19):
Bill Telford (00:46:20):
Nonfiction. Yeah. Sorry. And, uh, but I love to travel. I love to travel and, and doing, um, like the, doing the instrument. Donations has been a, a shameless excuse to do that because when we give an instrument, I can then go to the country and set it up and, and train the people. And, um, and it's been a wonderful, it's been, you know, a wonderful thing to be able to do.
Peter O'Toole (00:46:42):
Who's funding the trips out though. Cause obviously that's, that's an expense in itself. You're talking about fixing them. Who's actually funding the, the, because the air tickets are not cheap.
Bill Telford (00:46:50):
Sure, sure, absolutely. No, we have, um, uh, well the NIH funds the, uh, the restoration. Um, we've been doing this for 20 years and we have, we have some funding mechanisms for that. Um, they're actually very supportive of it. Um, I was surprised to learn 20 years ago. There's actually a mechanism. The US government actually have a, has a mechanism in place for donating equipment abroad. There's a, you know, in, in the US government, there's a form for everything and there is actually a form for this. Um, so I've had wonderful support from inside my institution. We have some foundation monies that fund have funded the travel and also some of the restoration efforts as well. We're trying through ISAC right now to try to sort of get it away from the US government, um, and, uh, move it more towards something where we can, where I don't have to be working there for it to happen. And so that others can be involved in as well. Um, but we just try to keep the costs really, really low. And we are, uh, you know, we travel, we fly coach and we stay in, I stay in guest houses in India whenever I can. We make a very conscious effort to try to, uh, keep our financial footprint very small. And, and of course now our, our carbon footprint as, as well, which is a problem because you have to fly into these places. So, but, um, but as you, but as you know, ISAC, uh, is, is very focused on this. Uh, Rachel Arrington, who's our new president, ISAC president is very, very concerned about this. She's very socially conscious and, um, and we're gonna try to, to work with way, find ways to try to, to minimize this, this impact as much as we can, but we just do it on the cheap. And, uh, and uh, we try to train our, our recipients to fix their own equipment. And with some limited, some, you know, not, everyone's so interested in doing that. Um, but to, to make them as self-sufficient as possible. So they're no longer relying on us, you know, if something breaks, I can just ship them the part and they'll, they'll take care of it.
Peter O'Toole (00:48:49):
We should talk after I've got some ideas around that.
Bill Telford (00:48:51):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Peter O'Toole (00:48:52):
Remember that. And we'll have a chat afterwards about some different ideas around that. Certainly the engineering side as well has just come to us. Some other questions, some quick fire questions.
Bill Telford (00:49:03):
Peter O'Toole (00:49:04):
PC or Mac.
Bill Telford (00:49:06):
Oh, I, I am a PC person. I have nothing against mac's. Um, in fact, I, I was in college when the, when the Mac classic, the Mac Macintosh the original 1984, the year when the original Macintosh came out and apple showered our campus with free Macintosh's to try to, to try to, you know, take our over our hearts and minds. And, uh, and I was very impressed, but it's just been PC piece. It's more, it's been more, um, sort of open PLA open architecture platform accessible, but I have nothing against max.
Peter O'Toole (00:49:43):
Okay. McDonald's or Burger king.
Bill Telford (00:49:47):
Oh God, I, um, I like a, I can't, I can't eat them anymore cuz I'm trying to keep my weight down, but I flame grilled burgers are better than, than hot metal. Hate to burger king wins.
Peter O'Toole (00:49:59):
That's a burger king. No,
Bill Telford (00:50:00):
But I, but I would, I, I won't eat it either one now. So doesn't matter.
Peter O'Toole (00:50:03):
Uh, what, if you had a takeaway, what would be your, what would be your go to for a takeaway?
Bill Telford (00:50:09):
Oh, for takeaway food. Um, we have, we have a wonderful chain in the states. I'm not sure it's if it's in the UK, it must be in the UK Chipotle, which is a, um, it's Mexican, well kind of Mexican, but it's sort of a new VO, Mexican and, um, it's delicious. The food is very high quality. Um, they seem to have a lot of, they, they have some, well, they've had some well publicized food poisoning, uh, incidents, although I don't think they're any worse than any other takeaway chain. Um, but at least in the east coast, we, we love Chipotle. That's good food. Yeah.
Peter O'Toole (00:50:42):
Tea or coffee.
Bill Telford (00:50:45):
I am not a tea or a coffee drinker. I don't drink coffee at all. Um, I will drink, I drink tea because I travel a lot internationally and you kind of have to, you know, you go to India and, and, and you have tea and it's delicious, but I have to go with tea. Although I'm, I'm actually a diet soft drink drinker. I drink obscene amounts of diet Coke or Pepsi doesn't matter, which yes, I know it's bad for me. Um, but it's my tea coffee. It's very American
Peter O'Toole (00:51:16):
Cool Coke zero. So Coca-Cola zero or Pepsi, Matt.
Bill Telford (00:51:19):
Oh, there's so many now. I, I, I prefer diet, actually. I don't, I'm not right wild about the, uh, the Coke zero or Pepsi, the pep, whatever. Yeah. Pepsi, max or whatever it's called. There's a small cadre of us that, that love the diet, the diet soft drinks. And, and I I'm I'm I apologize for it. It's no excuse.
Peter O'Toole (00:51:37):
It's okay. Beer or beer or wine,
Bill Telford (00:51:41):
Beer or wine. Oh, beer. Definitely. I love beer again. I can't drink it. I can't don't drink much anymore. Cuz it's got too many calories, but um, but I love a good beer. Certain
Peter O'Toole (00:51:50):
Time. You, you, you you're reaching an agent. Oh my goodness. Everything's gonna stick.
Bill Telford (00:51:54):
I know. I know. Right? Exactly. Oh, guy reached that age a long time.
Peter O'Toole (00:51:57):
Chocolate or cheese.
Bill Telford (00:51:58):
You have to worry, worry about staying alive. So, um, yeah. Chocolate. I love, I love a good beer. I love a good bitter or a good ale. Absolutely. Absolutely. Has to be a good one. Has to be a good one or what's the point?
Peter O'Toole (00:52:10):
Uh, a good dark strong alcohol. Definitely.
Bill Telford (00:52:13):
Yes. Yes. None of this. None of this Budweiser nonsense
Peter O'Toole (00:52:16):
You chocolate or cheese.
Bill Telford (00:52:19):
I, I never met a cheese. I didn't love, I love, absolutely love cheese, the stronger and stinkier the better. Um, I love chocolate too though, but actually cheese. If I had to live without one or the other, I'd rather live without chocolate. I'd rather, I I'd love cheese. I absolutely love cheese.
Peter O'Toole (00:52:35):
If you were to go to a conference or be taken out as a guest, mm-hmm what would be your ideal food that they could serve in front of you, what would be like, oh, results. That is just perfect. What
Bill Telford (00:52:48):
Would it be? Ideal food like ethnic food, ethnic, ethnic,
Peter O'Toole (00:52:51):
No. Anything, if you away, someone took you out to
Bill Telford (00:52:54):
Eat. I'm I'm, I'm a carnivore. I like meat. I really do. I try to eat less of it, but you know, I think one thing we do well in the states is we make a, we make a really good steak and, and I love that. I grew up, I grew up, my, my family is from Chicago. Um, my, my father would go to the, you know, when he was young would go to the stockyards and buy his meat, literally, literally fresh. And he passed that on to me. So I, I love a good filet again, not, not a good for you, but here we are.
Peter O'Toole (00:53:27):
And I, I say from that, if you were to have something put in front of you, what would be your nightmare food to have put in front of you?
Bill Telford (00:53:37):
Oh, I, there are foods I don't like at all. Um, pickles, olives, um, a lot of fermented foods. I'm not wild about my wife loves them. So it's a big problem for us because she, um, she adores these foods, but, um, I hate to say it, some of the microbiological foods and yet I love beer. Um, and I love cheese, which is intensely microbiological, but, um, but those are the foods I'm not wild about.
Peter O'Toole (00:54:00):
Oh, okay. Yeah. Are you nearly bird or night owl?
Bill Telford (00:54:03):
I'm sorry. Say again, say again,
Peter O'Toole (00:54:04):
An early bird of a night owl
Bill Telford (00:54:06):
Night owl totally night owl night owl absolutely.
Peter O'Toole (00:54:09):
So what time did you head to bed?
Bill Telford (00:54:11):
I'm I'm better now, but you know, I'd head to bed around midnight, one in the morning generally. And, and I, but I could stay up, I get working and suddenly it's three or four in the morning and I don't know where the time has gone. So I've always been from a C from childhood. I've always been a night, a night person. I'm a vampire, definitely. Okay. Yeah.
Peter O'Toole (00:54:29):
Star wars or star Trek.
Bill Telford (00:54:32):
Oh, star Trek. Absolutely.
Peter O'Toole (00:54:35):
I think that's absolutely
Bill Telford (00:54:36):
Decision. Absolutely. We still the, um, in, in the states, the, uh, even the original series is, is widely re-broadcast. You can always find it on. So the original, you know, with, with Shatner chewing on the scenery, um, is, is still as popular as it ever was. Absolutely.
Peter O'Toole (00:54:58):
Picard has to be the best captain that they're.
Bill Telford (00:55:00):
Ah, no, ,
Peter O'Toole (00:55:03):
Bill Telford (00:55:03):
Favorite? I think Shatner Shatner was just so smug and smarmy. I mean, you know, he just went into space for God's sake, you know, they just must or, uh, Bezos just put him on a rocket. So, you know, how cool is that?
Peter O'Toole (00:55:16):
And what's your favorite film of all? All time. Favorite movie?
Bill Telford (00:55:20):
Oh God. Um, alright, I'm gonna throw this out there. I don't, I don't, I don't know how recognizable it would be to you Buckaroo Bonzai across the eighth dimension. Do you know this movie?
Peter O'Toole (00:55:31):
Bill Telford (00:55:32):
Oh, you don't. You have
Peter O'Toole (00:55:34):
Bill Telford (00:55:34):
It, um, came out in the eighties. It was a science fiction film. Um, it was, I mean, it was a, it was one of those movies. That's good because it doesn't realize how awful it is. Um, but it has a cult following, uh, Peter Wellers in it, Jeff Goldblum, John Liko, Ellen Barkin. It had an all star cast even, and in the eighties, these, these actors were already pretty famous and it's a wonderful, um, and they're all scientists battling these aliens and, and I, I recommend you look it up. Um, but I, but I like films of that ill. I like Brazil, uh, things like, you know, moves like Brazil, anything, anything Pythonesque, anything like that? Absolutely.
Peter O'Toole (00:56:18):
So onto more serious things, not so dissimilar, what's your FA I think the answer's gonna be obvious. What's your favorite conference?
Bill Telford (00:56:27):
My favorite conference. Um, I, I mean, I like, obviously we all, you know, we just had the cyto conference, the international cytometry conference, which is always very well done. Um, it's been a real challenge the last few years with two consecutive, uh, virtual meetings that really threw us off our stride. Um, but it's always a very, uh, it's, it's a wonderful conference, I think, because it caters to so many people, it caters to the, the, the hard scientists out there. Um, but the core facility managers, the students, uh, they, they try, I, I think ISAC has a pretty good idea of who their membership is or who they want their membership to be. Um, but actually one, one type of conference I, I go to are the, uh, are the optics conferences, photonics west, for example, which is the big one in the us. Yep. Um, the, uh, the Munich, the Munich one is the muan one is, uh, I've never been, but it's even bigger. And, um, it's, it's wonderful to get the sort of physical science perspective on our technology and the, um, and the scientists out there, the physicists and the engineers, and such are very receptive to talking to me about this because they know nothing about biology, but they, they do understand how important their technology is to biology. And, um, and I've been able to tap into a lot of resources from them. We do a lot of laser work in my lab, and that would not have been possible without the cooperation of these photonics companies who didn't often didn't even realize just how important their work is to us in biology. And, um, and they're eager to talk to us. They want, they very much want cross, you know, disciplinary lines and, and, and do more with us,
Peter O'Toole (00:58:12):
Which brings another important, what you just said brings another important point. You run a core facility. We do have a small bit of research going on, sort of R&D tech wise within it. How do you balance that?
Bill Telford (00:58:24):
We do it's, um, it's very small. Um, I'm not a professor, I'm a, I'm a staff scientist, so I'm really not supposed to have my own research program, but we do have a, um, a small R&D effort that, uh, is a mainly a instrument technology. So I've, I've sort of told my bosses, look, I'll, I won't try to do, you know, bio biomedical research, but let me do things that will enhance the equipment that you're already using in your, in your work. So we keep it, we try to keep it very focused on, on specific research problems that are going on at the NIH. Someone needs to look at a particular fluorescent protein or something, um, a novel Fluro. So, um, so that's really how we balanced it. We've tried very hard to make sure that our institution recognizes that is that this is not taking valuable time away from the science. Um, and I've been fortunate. My, my administration has been supportive of it, they've it. Um, and we probably did get dedicate maybe 10 or 20% of our time,
Peter O'Toole (00:59:25):
Bill Telford (00:59:26):
It, but it's, but it's fun. It's something that's enjoyable for us. And therefore we're, you know, we're willing to take the time. And I think most of our investigators realize it benefits then,
Peter O'Toole (00:59:36):
And I'm, I'm gonna put words in your mouth as well. Mm-hmm, , York's also been very good at supporting that sort of initiative as well. It's not for the fun necessarily, cuz it also enhances the impact to the end users, to the scientists. So it's always benefits. Yeah. The end user it's not done just for, you know, you say it's for fun because it is, it keeps you engaged. It helps you keep you up to technology edge. Mm-hmm uh, it keeps the companies that are putting instruments in, interested in your facility. Mm-hmm , which is also beneficial. But yeah, it is the, as you say, you are picking samples of users using them to, to help. So it's always that end user benefit, which I think is really important. What's your favorite technique?
Bill Telford (01:00:19):
Um, I, I actually, um, when, when I was a, when I was a student back in the 1990s, I did a lot of calcium measurement. Ooh.
Peter O'Toole (01:00:32):
I thought you gonna say
Bill Telford (01:00:32):
Application one, remember Indo one Indo one, uh, was designed it's a, it's a dye that was designed by Roger Tsien. Who's sadly now deceased. Um, but Roger Tsien designed many of the tools that we now use in biomedical science, fluorescent tools. He's, he's known for GFP, but, but he did many, many things. And this was one of his to measure what at the time was really the only way to measure very early activation in lymphocytes, you know, in the first five minutes or so by looking at calcium release, um, both calcium influx into cells and release calcium stores. So he designed this very elegant biosensor that would, um, change at spectral properties in the presence of calcium. And it was a tricky technique to get going. Um, and I gotta going pretty well. So I was very proud of it. And um, and it's one that keeps popping up periodically even now, you know, we have better tools now for looking at T-cell activation. We can look at stat stats, uh, Jack stats and things like that. Um, but periodically someone will come to us and they will say, we wanna look at this, you know, very, very early event in T-cell activation that literally takes place in the first 30 seconds. And you can look at it by flow cytometry. Um, so it's, it's a technique that always has had sort of a soft spot in my heart because we were good at it. And um, it takes a little practice to get going. And the data's wonderful when you get it. It's, you know, this is really happening. Cells are really doing this. It's not, there's nothing inferred about it. You can, you can. And it, and it uses a wonderful tool, a wonderful fluorescence tool that, that, you know, has been around for a while.
Peter O'Toole (01:02:07):
Yeah. We, we, we still teach calcium on our flow course.
Bill Telford (01:02:11):
Oh good. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, it's, um, it's, uh, it's very much, uh, it's, it's a wonderful, uh, it's a wonderful way to show how can really leverage flow cytometry. It's not just, you know, is something bright or dim, but it's looking at ratios and excitation and emission and things like that. It's a, uh,
Peter O'Toole (01:02:27):
It's a cool,
Bill Telford (01:02:28):
It's a cool technique given today
Peter O'Toole (01:02:30):
And it uses time as a parameter. Yes. Does. And while you have to clean your cytometer between samples,
Bill Telford (01:02:38):
Mm-hmm, , mm-hmm, that little bit of that little bit of mitogen in there that oh, picogram level is still enough to, to hit that. T-cell um, it, it,
Peter O'Toole (01:02:47):
Bill Telford (01:02:47):
Features you a lot about the, you know, how, how sensitive these systems are and such,
Peter O'Toole (01:02:53):
But we, we are up to the hour, so we have to stop, but, and I haven't got, I had a few other questions I wanted to ask, which I'm not gonna get to ask. I'm gonna one, one more question. Cause I, for
Bill Telford (01:03:03):
Peter O'Toole (01:03:03):
who has been, or scientific, who has been your inspiration, do you have anyone or two people who have been your inspirations that you can give shout out to?
Bill Telford (01:03:13):
Um, absolutely. Well, I mean, I'll, I'll, I can, I can, I'll I'll quickly say this. Uh, very shortly. You, you mentioned Howard Shapiro, um, Howard Shapiro, who was really one of the, one of the founders of flow cytometry. He, he was important in popularizing it really, um, you know, writing his books and making sure people knew about this technology and how it could be employed. And I was luck. I, I was lucky enough to know Howard before he, he passed, um, uh, recently, I mean, he's an inspiration for many, many of us, of course. Um, but I will mention my, my flow mentor is a man named Lewis king. Who's still very much around, um, Lewis ran the flow lab at Michigan state. He ran our old, our ancient ortho, Cytoalograph. Um, Lewis was well connected to a lot of the, the Midwestern us cytometry people like, like Paul wa like Paul, um, Wallace, uh, Paul Robinson and such. And he was a fantastic teacher to me. You know, he really taught me how cytometers work and, and I've always sort of, you know, he was, he was just a, he was like a, a postdoc in our lab. He wasn't a professor, but he, um, I always kind of attribute the fact that I actually, he was the one who convinced me. I could actually do this for a living that it didn't just have to be another technique to use in my research, but I could actually, you know, I could actually, uh, do this as a career. Um, so I just wanna shout out to him because he, uh, he made a very big difference in my life and, and taught me a lot about how flow works.
Peter O'Toole (01:04:38):
Well, thank you for that. And thank for joining me today. And actually for those who are listening, maybe Bill's just inspired you now to realize there is a career in this technology platform and it is a developing market. That's got a long way to go. So we may have talked about the risk to our facilities, but trust me, it's a minor risk compared to where this is going. So, and if you're a data analyst, gosh, we need you desperately. So Bill, thank you very much. If you, uh, enjoy this, go back and look at the others. There's Rachel Arrington that we've heard a shout out to, Paul Robinson, uh, all those are previous guests, but bill you've been so easy to talk to and
Bill Telford (01:05:15):
Peter O'Toole (01:05:16):
Time. If you've got some spare cash, anyone there's some real big initiatives out there in helping support science across the world. Uh, so have a think about that as well, bill. Thank you.
Bill Telford (01:05:26):
Thank you. Thanks for having me had a great time.