Support during COVID-19 pandemic

last updated September 20, 2020

UCSF Response to COVID-19 | UCSF Guidance for Researchers UCSF COVID-19 Coping Guide

This PFCC plan aligns with UCSF’s policies and guidance. It was worked to establish strategies to support for gradually increasing laboratory research activities while keeping the numbers of support staff to the minimum wherever possible. 

A return to normal levels of laboratory activity is unlikely for many months or longer.  We must understand that the practice of laboratory research will not be the same as it was, and that we need to develop new ways of reducing physical interactions until this pandemic has receded.

The top priority is public health: please adhere to UCSF’s Office of Research guidance on Social Distancing Protocols and the UCSF Face Covering Policy, additionally please be reminded that use of PPE (lab coat and gloves) is required in the Core. Be compassionate and respectful of your colleagues. EH&S will be making regular walkthroughs and monitor the density within the Core Lab.

Ramp up procedures starting 9/17 at PFCC 

Phase 3 - support gradually increasing laboratory research activities 

  • Extended business hours with staff support: weekdays 8a-8p;
  • Please note: the Core is open 24/7 for trained users, we would recommend that only SuperUsers use cell sorters after hours. SOPs for Unassisted instrument setup for Analyzers and Cell Sorters.
  • Number of support staff will be kept to the minimum wherever possible, and comply with low density guidelines;
  • Onsite: there will be 3 staff staggered throughout the day in the Core;
  • Remotely: 3 staff handling communications, consultations/troubleshooting, virtual trainings.
  • Please email [email protected] for any questions or requests. Our email wait and response times may be longer than usual due to staff’s limited availability. Allow for at least for 24hrs for response time, for urgent matters you can call our Help-Line 415-745-2150.


  • Directive on population density: only 2 people per bay allowed. Schedule in advance on iLab using [Linked Calendar] option and coordinate according to the instrument's neighborhood . Use the Timeline View on iLab and if unsure use the Core’s Layout for reference;
  • Scheduling and booking of instruments is (and has always been) mandatory, schedule instruments in advance, recommended at least 8hrs before. Otherwise booking may not be able to be accommodated;
  • Allow 15-30min gap between each booking to limit interaction and avoid overlapping in the Core lab. A monitor has been placed outside the room to coordinate entry/exit of the lab;
  • Be respectful of time and be efficient. Start and finish on time; If you have not scheduled any of the instruments or are using past your scheduled time, you will be politely asked to exit the Lab. No groups allowed on the instrument;
  • We encourage the Use of TeamViewer for all the labs willing to monitor their sorts remotely using during the extended Business Hours and the Core Staff will collaborate to provide remote monitoring of the sorters [no assistance fee added];
  • We encourage the Use of TeamViewer if any training/shadowing of new lab trainees in the Core facility are planned;
  • If sorting for more longer than 2hrs please consider splitting experiment between different instruments within the same bay; Please email [email protected] ahead so the Core Staff can update the schedule (you will not be able to book multiple instruments on iLab);
  • Assistance requests have been accommodated since Phase 2 although expected limitations. Please request at least one week in advance, due to staff’s limited availability only one Assistance per day may be accommodate;
  • Cancellation policies will remain in place, although if a cancellation request is due to health concerns related to COVID-19 or shelter-in-place the fee will be waived.


  • Reserve the equipment before entering S854-S864. It is not allowed to just enter the room to see if the equipment is available. Only one person should be using reserved equipment
  • Make sure you are wearing the required PPE. Bring your lab coat as there are none available in S854-S864; Handle all bench / instrument surfaces with gloves on.
  • Wash your hands or use the hand sanitizer when entering and leaving the room.
  • Please enter the lab from the S854 door and exit through S864. This should assist in reducing personal interactions as people move through the space.
  • Do not loiter in the room longer than necessary and limit your trips in and out of the room. If possible, have one person from a lab perform experiments for the group to reduce the number of people utilizing the core space. 
  • Do not stand in the area waiting for equipment. You need to make sure you are allowing for social distancing in the area, including space for people to leave the lab. If the space around the equipment is occupied you will need to leave the room and come back when the area is available.
  • Please don’t leave materials in the room. We need to keep the desks and benches clear of clutter to make it easier to wipe down between people. Make sure that any used materials are placed back in it’s locations (pipettes, tips, tube holders, …), and trash in the respective bin and not left on the bench.
  • EH&S will be monitoring for social distancing compliance and if we have a large number of individuals in the room during a walk through or individuals not following UCSF policies we could have overall occupancy levels reduced.
  • No COVID-19 samples can be accommodated at PFCC unless fixed;
  • Human Primary samples (PCR negative) are permitted and can be safely run in our BSL-2 laboratory (S854-S864) and sorted in all of the sorters with certain BSL-2+ level practices in place. As a precaution even PCR negative samples from Respiratory or GI tract will be limited to be sorted on the FACSAria Fusion “Jabba the Hutt” (enclosed in BSC). Please read considerations when Sorting Human Primary Tissue and SOP on how to deal with Clogs during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Please practice good hygiene and social distancing;



  • Friendly reminder to always use the required PPE when in S854-S864, bring your own, none are available at S854-S864;
  • Handle all bench/instrument surfaces with gloves on;


  • To reduce viral transmission, please spray and wipe the bench and equipment surfaces with EtOH (70%) or Bleach (10%) Before and After Use using the spray bottles available in S854 and S864;
  • Practice good hygiene. Remove gloves before leaving the lab. Wash hands with soap and water at the sink;
  • EH&S will make regular walkthroughs to assess compliance and density in the Core;
  • If you are feeling sick please stay home and do not feel pressured to come and use the instruments!  If past the free cancelation deadline please email [email protected] to help take care of your reservation, and we will waive the cancellation fee.
  • Classes have restarted since May 13 via Zoom and will continue being provided in virtual format until further notice, check the schedule and availability on iLab;
  • Hands-on training will be adapted and restart during June.

It’s important to us that you feel safe and comfortable coming back to the Core. We appreciate your patience and your feedback as our team develops new policies and procedures. We will keep you updated and send regular communications through our listserv. 

Feel free to submit your feedback and suggestions in our new SUGGESTION BOX!

Take care and be safe!

From: Claudia Bispo, and the whole Flow Core team!

Covid-19 communications & other support - The most recent UCSF advice/guidelines can be found here: 

UCSF Response to COVID-19 | UCSF Guidance for Researchers  |  UCSF COVID-19 Coping Guide

COVID Biosafety Resources

Helping users during the shutdown

  • On-call virtual consultations: Zoom Office Hours Mon 1-4pm, RSVP here and use Zoom ID 118-010-154
  • On-call virtual troubleshooting: email [email protected] or call Help-Line 415-745-2150 leave a voicemail with your contact and the issue details
  • FlowJo: FlowJo is offering free 30-day licenses in response to COVID-19 advisories
  • FCS Express: De Novo Software is announced a special initiative to provide free FCS Express software licenses, or new additional licenses, to any researchers directly involved in vaccine development, therapies, or general research for COVID-19, email DeNovo Support.
  • other resources: ImmunoX COVID LockoutTime Community Bulletin-Board

Teaching Flow and Mass Cytometry

PFCC has resumed our Training Program since May 12, please register through iLab to attend the available classes.