South Campus Faculty and Staff

From left: David Dwyer, Kim Acklyn, Karen Ramirez, Kathryn Ruissard, Karen Clise-Dwyer, Ryan Jewell, Diana Bonilla

South Campus Research Building 2
Room 2SCR4.2124

Karen Clise-Dwyer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Stem Cell Transplantation & Cellular Therapies
Director, SCRB Flow Cytometry & Cell Sorting Core Facility
Co-Director, Flow Cytometry & Cellular Imaging Facility

Dr. Clise-Dwyer obtained her Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied the effects of a BAFF-R mutation on development of immunity. While in graduate school, she developed her interest in flow cytometry and cell sorting instrumentation. She was the first client of the UW-Madison Flow Core to learn to operate and troubleshoot the multi-laser BD FACS Vantage and Digital Vantage DiVa cell sorters. When the UW-Madison Core Facility beta-tested the DiVa digital upgrade system in 2001, Dr. Clise-Dwyer was heavily involved in that effort. She did postdoctoral research at the Trudeau Institute, studying the effects of aging on lymphocyte development before joining the FCCIF-NC as a Research Scientist in 2006, where she collaborated with researchers to develop cytometry and confocal imaging assays. In the 20 months she worked at the FCCIF-NC, she developed her confocal and widefield cell imaging skills. In 2008, Dr. Clise-Dwyer was recruited to direct operations at the FCCIF-SC. She leads all planning, new instrumentation selection, personnel decisions, grant proposals and funding requests, resource use tracking, staff and client education, finalizes monthly billing and determines FCCIF-SC budget allocations. The FCCIF-SC has grown rapidly while still maintaining very high (>92%) user satisfaction. Dr. Clise-Dwyer is a member of the International Society for the Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC) and is President of the regional cytometry user's group, FlowTex, a major source for cytometry education in the Texas Medical Center and beyond.

Karen Ramirez, B.S.
Laboratory Manager

Karen has been involved in Flow Cytometry since 1983. She has worked in clinical research labs and in product development and technical support in the flow cytometry industry. At MD Anderson, Karen has worked in the South Campus Flow Cytometry Core since 1992. Since that time, the core has grown significantly in terms of instrumentation, technical capabilities, and number of users served. Karen now manages the FCCIF-SC. She is responsible for operation of all instruments, management of consumables, verifying billing, training new staff and clients. She participates in staff selection and training, staff management activities, SOP development and other projects for the FCCIF-SC. Karen has been involved in teaching Flow Cytometry concepts and techniques to numerous undergraduates, summer students, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and visiting scientists. She is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the South Campus Flow Cytometry Core.

Kimberlyn Acklin, M.S.
Coordinator, Flow Cytometry Lab

Kim is the lab’s first certified cytometry expert, having passed the ISAC/iCCS certification in cytometry in December 2012. Kim has over six years of diverse scientific and flow cytometry-based research experience. She began her employment with MD Anderson November 2008. She has attended many hours of cytometry training provided by ISAC, FloCyte, FlowJo, BD, Amnis, and Sony and is proficient in cell sorting and analysis of determined parameters including, cell structure, protein expression, localization, and modifications, cell surface and intracellular antigens, and cell health and viability. Kim has developed strong skills in image cytometry over the last few years. Kim is also skilled in the use of flow cytometry analysis software including DIVA, FlowJo, and FCS Express.

Diana Bonilla, Ph.D.
Research Scientist

Dr. Diana Bonilla received her Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Universidad del Valle, Colombia in 2002. She worked 4 years at a Research Institute in Colombia, studying host immune responses against Leishmania parasites and performing immunophenotyping of HIV, leukemia, and lymphoma patients. She completed her Ph.D. studies in Medical Sciences-Immunology from Texas A&M Health Science Center in 2009. Her dissertation work focused on the effect of dietary lipids on the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. After completion of her degree she was appointed as a Postdoctoral Associate at Baylor College of Medicine to study the role of autophagy on the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Her research work focused on modulation of the innate immune response against different human intracellular pathogens, where she used flow cytometry to test most of her hypothesis. She has 11 years of experience using flow cytometry for both immunophenotyping and cellular functional assays. She is  a Flow Cytometry Advisor for Becton Dickinson in Colombia and she has helped to design and standardize different flow cytometry assays for different institutions. Diana joined the core staff in September 2013.

David Dwyer, B.S.
Coordinator, Flow Cytometry Lab


David obtained his B.S. in biological sciences from the University of New Hampshire. After several years doing protein mutagenesis and purification, David has worked in immunology labs since 2002. His research has focused on CTL responses to melanoma, and investigation of the role of T-regulatory cells in the pathogenesis of cancer. In that capacity, he developed significant skills in flow cytometry experimental methods and data analysis. Since joining the core staff, he has expanded his skills and is now a cell sorting specialist. David joined the core staff in March 2013.

Ryan Jewell, B.S.
Flow Cytometry Specialist

Ryan joined MD Anderson in June 2013. Originally hailing from Iowa, Ryan obtained his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and has three years of experience in laboratory research. He has experience in flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, PCR, cell culture, and computer programming. He is quickly picking up on the intricacies of cytometry & cell sorting.

Kathryn Ruisaard, B.S.
Research Investigator

Kathryn became a part-time member of the FCCIF-SC staff in June 2011. She has more than seven years of experience doing cytometry experiments, and more than five years of experience with mAb conjugations for Dr. Clise-Dwyer’s Stem Cell Transplantation research lab. She is responsible for conjugating antibodies to fluorochromes for FCCIF-SC users and helps in the Core when needed. She consults with Core users regarding staining panels and FlowJo-based data analysis. She maintains an inventory of commonly used dyes for Flow Cytometry and prepares trial-size aliquots and assists users in designing staining panels for their experiments upon request. Kathryn also provides assistance with cell and analysis on sorters, analyzers, and FlowJo software. She dedicates 50% of her time to the Core Facility.

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