Lucky number 001: BD Biosciences installs their new revolutionary imaging cell sorter at VIB

Ghent, 23 June 2023 - VIB's Flow cytometry Core welcomed the new cutting-edge spectral flow cytometry sorter from BD Biosciences with serial number 001. This makes VIB among the first to embrace this revolutionary device. The BD Biosciences FACSDiscover™ S8 Cell Sorter with BD CellView™ Image Technology can perform cell sorting using real-time image analysis of cells. This opens exciting new horizons for VIB and academic researchers, offering unprecedented opportunities for scientific exploration and discovery.

Flow cytometry is a widely used technique in various research fields such as immunology, clinical diagnostics, cancer research, plant biology, and microbiology. The technology was developed in the 1970s, and over the years, it has become more and more sophisticated. The value of flow cytometry has been proven time and time again in fundamental and clinical research. It is commonly used to analyze complex cell mixtures, like blood or tumor fragments, where it can sort and prioritize different cell types. Once sorted, researchers can study them in more detail and unravel their functions.

Now, BD Biosciences has achieved a milestone with their FACSDiscover™ S8 Cell Sorter, introducing an innovative technology that combines imaging and spectral sorting, enabling image-based sorting decisions. With this cutting-edge device, scientists can visualize and sort cells in real time at an astounding speed of up to 15,000 images per second. This advancement creates new possibilities, helping researchers to delve deeper into cellular analysis and investigation.

”BD's revolutionary CellView™ technology brings a whole new element to the field, allowing us to study cell types in never-before-seen detail, all while also being able to sort them! Being one of the first institutes in the world to be able to use this technology is an incredible honor and something that I'm immensely proud of.” - Gert Van Isterdael, Head of VIB Flow Core Ghent

Timelapse of the installation at the VIB Flow Core Ghent:

VIB Technologies at the forefront of technology innovation

It comes as no surprise that BD Biosciences chose VIB for its first delivery of the BD FACSDiscoverTM equipment. VIB’s Flow Cytometry core at the VIB-UGent Center For Inflammation Research was part of a select group of institutes* worldwide involved in testing the device prototype. VIB Technologies is renowned for its forward-thinking approach and expertise in testing emerging technologies, making them a preferred partner for biotech companies. In this case, the team of Gert Van Isterdael and various VIB research labs subjected the device to extensive testing over the past three years.

"By testing the device prototype, we could contribute to its optimization and leverage this technology for VIB's many research projects. We were very excited to see the exceptional quality of the acquired data. This provides many opportunities, for instance, in view of the increasing use of AI technology to complement it." - Gert Van Isterdael

As a result of the successful and comprehensive testing conducted at VIB-UGent, the technology's immense potential was evident. With the generous support of ​ Stichting tegen Kanker, the VIB Flow Core at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology will install an additional BD FACSDiscoverTM S8. This positions VIB as a trailblazer in Europe for spectral imaging sorting.

AI integration

The new flow cytometry device generates data at an astonishing speed, accompanied by a surge in data volume. This presents a unique opportunity to combine this advanced technology with AI capabilities, unlocking immense potential for the future. By harnessing the power of AI, flow cytometry can achieve greater automation by swiftly and accurately analyzing extensive datasets.

"At VIB, we recognize the significance of technological innovation in maintaining research excellence. We actively explore the integration of new technologies, including AI. This opens a new era of data analysis and interpretation in flow cytometry." - Geert Van Minnebruggen, VIB Technology director

*Other test sites:

  • European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg, Germany
  • Stanford University, California, USA
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH), Washington, USA
  • Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR), Sydney, Australia

Read more

Full animated explanation of the technology:

Nature interview with Gert Van Isterdael (Sponsored by BD Biosciences)

Joran Lauwers

Joran Lauwers

Science & Business Communications Expert, VIB

About VIB

VIB’s core mission is to generate disruptive insights in the molecular underpinning of life and to translate these actively into impactful innovations for patients and society. VIB is an independent research institute where some 1,800 top scientists from Belgium and abroad conduct pioneering basic research. As such, they are pushing the boundaries of what we know about molecular mechanisms and how they rule living organisms such as human beings, animals, plants, and microorganisms. Based on a close partnership with five Flemish universities – Ghent University, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Hasselt University – and supported by a solid funding program, VIB unites the expertise of all its collaborators and research groups in a single institute. VIB’s technology transfer activities translate research results into concrete benefits for society such as new diagnostics and therapies and agricultural innovations. These applications are often developed by young start-ups from VIB or through collaborations with other companies. This also leads to additional employment and bridges the gap between scientific research and entrepreneurship. VIB also engages actively in the public debate on biotechnology by developing and disseminating a wide range of science-based information. 

More info can be found on

About VIB

VIB is an independent research institute that translates insights in biology into impactful innovations for society. Collaborating with the five Flemish universities, it conducts research in plant biology, cancer, neuroscience, microbiology, inflammatory diseases, artificial intelligence and more. VIB connects science with entrepreneurship and stimulates the growth of the Flemish biotech ecosystem. The institute contributes to solutions for societal challenges such as new methods for diagnostics and treatments, as well as innovations for agriculture. 

Learn more at