Cytometry for Life Founder climbs Mount Everest

May, 2009 - Dr. J. Paul Robinson, PUCL Director returned from Nepal having successfully summited the world's tallest mountain at 29,035 ft.


"My major motivation in climbing is to raise awareness of the devastating problems of AIDS in resource-limited countries and entire continents like Africa."


Dr. Robinsonís goal is to raise money for Purdue's nonprofit "Cytometry for Life" program, whose goal is to support the development and implementation of point of care programs and education and training programs, predominantly in Africa.


Robinson has paid personally for his training and previous expeditions, as well as the Everest trip, so that all donations go into the C4L mission.


To see how he achieved this expedition, please visit .


Read an article about this climb in "Inside Purdue."


Scientists focus on Point of Care (POC) support Africa

There are many problems in diagnostics, but one that is particularly difficult is identifying and providing quality point of care technologies in regions of the world that most need them.  Sometimes the most sophisticated technology is not the best technology - particularly if it cannot be maintained. One of our goals is to make sure that whatever technologies we provide, can be supported and maintained and produce the highest quality results. Nothing less is acceptable.  In order to achieve this, we must develop simple, elegant, low cost solutions particularly for tropical diseases that are a significant problem in Africa. It's a solution that Africa cannot afford to to be without.

What is the "Cytometry for Life" program?

Cytometry is a field of science that has been around for about 50 years. It is the study of cells and their environment. The living cell is the smallest independent operational unit of the body and understanding how cells work is what cytometry is all about.

When cells fail to work, there are serious consequences - like cancer for instance where some abnormal cells take over the body with disastrous consequences. In AIDS, a virus takes over a very important cell, the CD4 lymphocyte. It destroys the cell and eventually the patient cannot survive.

Cytometry really started about 50 years ago with the invention of simple cell analysis tools like the Coulter Counter - a machine that counts blood cells. This was followed by an instrument to sort blood cells into different populations and this instrument was called a cell sorter - a type of flow cytometer. In the 40 years since the invention of the cell sorter by Mack Fulwyler, a revolution has occurred within the world of immunology, primarily driven by innovations of Len Herzenberg and others as cytometry matured into a powerful technology in medical research and clinical practice.

Often analyzing cell populations can provide a rich amount of knowledge about a patient and potential diseases. While we do not advocate approaching the problems with a single technology, developing tools that can provide valuable information to the physician are critical in solving difficult problems.This may involve tools like flow cytometry, or PCR, or some of the many other technologies we use in scientific research and diagnostic medicine. Out goal is to ensure that there is quality education and training of individuals in local environments so that both research and quality diagnostics can be performed.

The Cytometry for Life program aims to achieve the following goals


  • Provide quality support for students and staff in resource limited environments
  • Establish protocols and materials that will give students and staff long term support
  • Provide instrumentation and technology that supports the needs of local scientists
  • Work on point of care systems that are economical and effective and responsive to local needs


  • Ensure scientists have the best training in technology and assay development
  • Enhance students and staff ability to work with the best technical solutions for their needs
  • Link with Agencies to facilitate distribution to places of need and provide long term maintenance programs

Current Partnerships

The Cytometry for Life program was initiated by individuals in the cytometry community who want to make a difference today- both academics and business people. The goal is to create a program that has as its primary goal, saving lives by using current-day technology at the most effective level and at the lowest possible cost.