Interview with Vesna Melkebeek, Ph.D.
Tell us about your scientific background and your work.
I have a Ph.D. in Veterinary Immunology and worked as a postdoc for several years before joining BD. During my academic career, I was mainly studying the impact of different vaccination strategies and immunomodulatory adjuvants on the intestinal mucosal immune system in animals using flow cytometry, cell sorting and imaging. In that period, I developed a strong interest in immunology.
I joined the BD Biosciences Scientific & Training Support team in 2015. Our team supports customers with all types of application questions related to BD Biosciences reagents, instruments and software. In addition, we are developing training content and provide both internal training and classes to customers, as well as educational webinars. Within our team, I’m also responsible for the high parameter support, including multicolor panel design, and supporting customers with questions ranging from instrument and assay setup to data analysis.
What kind of support can our customers expect from BD’s Scientific Support team?
The European BD Biosciences Scientific & Training Support team consists of a large team of persons located in Erembodegem, Belgium, and Heidelberg, Germany, that supports customers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We all have different backgrounds and areas of expertise, so we can cover a broad range of applications.
Customers can contact us for all questions regarding our reagents, the use of our instruments and software or their experimental setup. For example, we often get requests for panel design, questions regarding compensation or the use of controls and how to set up a flow cytometer in the best way to achieve good quality data. We also support our customers in optimizing their experiments and assays.
In addition, we provide educational courses like instrument operator training and multicolor training.
The recent pandemic has disrupted research in many labs. How is BD’s scientific support helping researchers in these times?
We maintained our services throughout the pandemic to support our customers via phone, email and chat. Since it was not always possible for customers to visit our training centers in Erembodegem or Heidelberg due to country-specific travel restrictions, we focused on the deployment of virtual training classes and e-learning content. In this way, we could address our customers’ needs without delay for their research or diagnostic routines. Our full offering can be found on our website via https://www.bdbiosciences.com/en-eu/support/training.
Can you tell us about the SARS-CoV-2 flow panels that you helped to design recently for a customer at Sanquin Blood Bank, Amsterdam? What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
Dr. van der Sandt from Sanquin contacted us, requesting assistance in the design of two high-parameter BD FACSymphony™ panels that she wanted to use in a large COVID-19 vaccination trial. Successful panel design requires knowledge about the fluorochromes and potential spread on your instrument as well as knowledge about the biology of the sample. We have internal tools available to predict spread on our instruments. Since the loss of resolution due to spread will also depend on the level of co-expression and antigen density, it’s important to take this information into account when designing the panel. This is not always easy to predict because the density of some markers is variable, depending on when and how strong the cells were activated. Our expertise on instruments, fluorochromes and spreading, combined with Dr. van de Sandt’s knowledge of the sample type, the markers and the expected density for some markers based on previous studies, led to the first-panel proposal.
Following the initial setup of the panel, we had some further discussions. Following some minor readjustments of the instrument setup and antibody titration, they were happy with the resolution of the data.
What can customers do to get the best possible support from BD?
Just contact us or your local application specialist! Our purpose is to support our customers during every step in their daily assay design and experimental setup. In addition, we work closely together with our local sales representatives, application specialists, and our colleagues from the Technical Support team. This helps us to provide our customers a total solution in a fast and efficient way.
Don’t hesitate to contact us:
firstname.lastname@example.org for our scientific support team
BDB.Training@bd.com for training requests
Or via the contact page on our website: https://www.bdbiosciences.com/en-eu/contact-us