Subscribe using your preferred service
About this episode
#6 — Season 2. Paul K. Wallace of the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center was one of the first clinical cytometrists. He has had a huge influence on the field of flow cytometry, particularly in developing assays to track immune function. In this engaging episode of Flow Stars, Paul chats to Peter O’Toole about his early ambitions to become a vet, the importance of education and training in flow cytometry, and how his role has led him all over the world. We also discover what’s Paul’s favorite foods are (tip: don’t serve him liver!), whom from history he’d most like to meet, and what he’s got planned for retirement.
This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.
Peter O’Toole (00:00:00):
Hello, I’m Peter O’Toole from University of York. And today I’m joined by Paul Wallace, who’s director of the Flow and of Flow and Image cytometry at Rosewell Park Cancer Comprehensive Center in Buffalo. Paul, how are you today?
Paul Wallace (00:00:15):
I’m very good, Peter. Thanks very much for inviting me to do this. Yeah.
Peter O’Toole (00:00:19):
And, and thank you so much for agreeing to talk today. So obviously I, I, I know of you in many ways first and foremost, possibly as a past ISAC president. So what was it, what was it like being president of ISAC? How much responsibility, how much change, how much influence did you have then?
Paul Wallace (00:00:39):
Well, I, I, my first reaction to that was it was a lot of email. I, I, I had no idea how many emails I would end up, end up getting and dealing with on a daily basis. I, I can, one thing I can say is, I think now many years out of being past president the email, the emails have slacked off a little bit, but I’m still very much involved. It was a lot of fun. It was a, it was a interesting time. You know, I looked back on it as we did a meeting in Asia. So we had the Cy Cyto Asia meeting in Singapore. And that was, that was a lot of fun and it really opened up a lot to you know, Australia, New Zealand and and really Southeast Asia. But then the, the one thing that probably dominated it was where we had to move from being associated with FASET, which was what they call an AMC or an Association Management Company, and to really what investor became a standalone. But the idea was a hybrid in there. And so migrating from where one organization is doing all your taxes, accounting, your website, your databases, and stuff like that, to doing it alone in what turned into be a relatively short time was, was a challenge. So it was a was, and it was a challenging time and actually for the organization it, it, they are still going through growing pains.
Peter O’Toole (00:02:06):
Yeah. So I can’t believe my phone’s going off in the background. We’ll just carry on for now. Anyway. Why, why, why did you choose what, what’s the motivation to become president of a large society and so such an influential society, what is the motivation? It’s a lot of work.
Paul Wallace (00:02:23):
Yeah, I, that’s a good question. I’m not sure I know the answer. I, what happened was Paul Robinson asked me if I would run for treasurer. And I thought, well, how much trouble could I get myself into being treasurer? And so I, I did that. And then one thing led to another, and then I was asked to become president. I thought it’d be a lot of fun to put on a meeting. I thought that would be a lot of fun. And of course there’s staff that’s associated with with the society. And I figured, well, staff will take care of everything and what do I, what will I need, will I really need to do, of course that that was not true, but that’s what I thought. Yeah. It was a lot of fun though. I think also just for the honor and you know, it was a, it was a, it was a great opportunity.
Peter O’Toole (00:03:10):
So when you took over, I, I think whenever there’s a new incoming president of a society, they have a vision. They, they, they see some, they, they would like to put a stamp on it. They, they would like to make mark, how easy is it to actually achieve that? It’s not, you’re not in presidency for a long time at ISAC. There’s quite a short, short term
Paul Wallace (00:03:28):
Two years, just two years. Well I think it is, you know, presidents have had an impact on different things. And but you know, I really, from a personal perspective, what I was thinking about was I really wanted to see where we were broadening out and going into different, different regions besides Europe and the Americas. And so that was the reason for Cyto Asia that, you know, that for, because it really cuz of COVID has slacked off, but I know the interest is still and trying to maintain that that, that thing. And Rachel who’s coming in as present really does see an opportunity to go into different regions. That wouldn’t just be Asia, but south America Eastern Europe and different, different places. So, so there’s, I think that has, that has, that has lived through you know, the others, other presidents have just created more and more committees. And so one of the, one of the jobs is usually to start going through and get getting rid of some of the committees, but it’s, it’s, it goes by fast and there’s a lot of things that have to get done that just in the normal day to day operations. So it’s, it’s best just to focus in on a couple things like one or two things that you wanna really wanna accomplish. Yeah.
Peter O’Toole (00:04:47):
And actually to one, one of my, one of the Flow Stars podcast, he’s actually with Rachel as well. So I, I should have asked her one of those questions, darn it
Paul Wallace (00:04:56):
She’s got, she’s got some ideas as well and they’re good ideas.
Peter O’Toole (00:04:59):
So we, we, we head straight, you know, one of the most influential roles in flow optometry, but what, what got you interested in place optometry to start with?
Paul Wallace (00:05:10):
Wow, that, that goes back, I’m afraid. It goes back probably 35 year, maybe, maybe even 40 years. I, you probably, you don’t, you wouldn’t remember this, but we used to do Y Cell rosettes. So we would rosette the T-cells around red cells around, around a T-cell and then we would count the number of rosettes, which would be the number of T-cells in the, in the blood or in the, in the sample. And for B cells, we would come in with a, a goat anti and to light up the light up the B cells. And you look at those in a fluorescent scope. And I didn’t think the acid was very good. It was, I mean, it, it was what we had at the time but it was, it was pretty variable. And it was awful just to go in there and count a couple hundred T cell rosettes and the, the B-cells were, were even more difficult cause you need, you need to know the percentage. So I heard about this instrument down in down in Philadelphia and really worked on trying to bring one into the, in to the Institute. This was all before HIV. And we, I got, I, I actually ended up teaming up with a group over at the research research side of Smith Klein and who had just come down from Rochester, from [inaudible] lab. And we we basically implemented a clinical assay for du T-cells and BMC fours and CDHS so, so that simple assay and I was focused on leukemias and lymphomas. So that was, that was the way it was set up. And we get a couple a day, you know, this was a large national laboratory. And then uh HIV hit and it went from a couple a day to just, you know you know, 50, 60, a hundred a day and who knows what they’re doing now. So it was really an interest trying to move that technology into something that was was, was more reliable and better.
Peter O’Toole (00:07:17):
So, so that’s that work? I, yeah, you were one of the very first clinical flow cytometrists. I think that would be fair to say.
Paul Wallace (00:07:24):
Yeah, I, I think that’s probably correct. The I mean, I have a early publication with Kathy Muirhead where we’re talking about comparing different lysing reagents and, and, and that type of thing, or different ways to prepare cells versus versus lysis. And you know, that was probably, that was in the very early eighties that we did that. And there were, there were labs that were research labs that were performing flow and there were a couple that were, that had just started into the HIV, but it really a research, it was really a research assay and very, very few clinical labs that were, that were doing certainly nothing. This was the first, so the two, my horn, this was the first national lab to offer a flow cytometry,
Peter O’Toole (00:08:11):
Which when we think about it now that every hospital will have, flow cytometers not a cytometer, but multiple. And the amount of that they can turn around now is, is exponentially more that, you know, that well, to be at the seed point for clinical flow cytometry is quite an amazing influence. And just watching a proliferation, Liam Whitby to have NeQas was talking at his whole industry is around flow cytometry and the application in the clinical setting. So it’s, yeah, so it’s an amazing achievement that you’ve, you’ve done that you’ve, you’ve put the first brick down. Yeah,
Paul Wallace (00:08:50):
It was the, I, it make me remember the very first cytometer I had, which was an Epics five and we had hooked it up. We had done, we had done some of our early work in the the research facility which was at a building several miles away. But when we finally got one at the clinical absence SmithKline, it was an Epic five, you know, it was, it was basically jet air sorter type of type of instrument. They did not have the the analyzers that we have today. And so it was power water cooled lasers and lasers that, you know, were the were six feet long. And we were next to the bathroom at at Smith Klein. And every time somebody would go to flush the, the laser would shut down we’d have to get the instrument back up and running. So I, I was probably not the most popular person because anytime we had the the cytometer running, we’d have to put a sign up on the the bathrooms to go around and use another one. Cause it was every time just shut the thing down.
Peter O’Toole (00:09:52):
I, I guess you weren’t as flushed then have better premise. I very bad joke. . So moving on from, from getting involved flow cytometry what, what is your training to start with? What, what is your undergraduate and PhD? What, what was that to get yourself into this medical world?
Paul Wallace (00:10:13):
So I originally was a, a biology major. And I think I, at that point I was really thinking veterinary science is what I was really where I was, was thought I was headed. And then I ended up doing a master’s in Idaho and that was really I was in microbiology, but I was, I really gravitated right away to immunology. And so that was my first introduction to you know, HLA and, and those types of things. And I was really struck by the fact that all these cells were communicating amongst themselves. There you go. We’re going, we’re going, this is when my wife and I are going back home to where we to where we, where I was in graduate school. And you could see the sign that says welcome to Idaho. And we’re obviously happy to to be back there. The, the
Peter O’Toole (00:11:10):
Did meet there. Is that where you met your wife?
Paul Wallace (00:11:12):
No, no. I met, met my wife. She came in to my, my bedroom at two in the morning and with a, with an old girlfriend who I had dated for the first one had dated for, for many years and then
Peter O’Toole (00:11:29):
This is sounding very bad already, but carry on
Paul Wallace (00:11:32):
They had, they had been, they had been roommates over in England. So they were down in Sussex and when they, when they came back Sarah, who was my my old girlfriend wanted me to meet her roommate Betsy who was, was, was pictured there. And so two in the morning they, they jump on the bed and that was my introduction to to, to the wife. Uh That was, that was, that was my, I guess my last year of college. So and then we ended up moving in together just because we needed a place to stay. And of course, one thing led to another,
Peter O’Toole (00:12:11):
Right. Obviously it all worked out for the best, which is, which is good. So after doing your, your, I think microbiology, biochemistry degrees, you went over to Lebanon, is that correct? Correct.
Paul Wallace (00:12:21):
To Lebanon, New Hampshire. Yeah. Is that I, well, I, I ended up doing a PhD in Philly and then went to do a postdoc at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in they were in Lebanon, New Hampshire. And that was basically my, my wife’s idea. We were living in Philly. I had been working at this company called Zynaxis which had been a spinoff of SmithKline. And I went to finish up my PhD. I had the leave Zynaxis for a period for a period of years, but thought I would go back to back to them, but my wife had other ideas. She wanted, she didn’t wanna live in Philly. She wanted to live in, you know, Vermont, New Hampshire, which is kind of where she spent her summers. And so she arranged for me to interview for a post doc at Dartmouth. And then I think probably drove me up there went through the interview and I guess that went well, cuz I ended up spending almost 10 years at at Dartmouth.
Peter O’Toole (00:13:27):
I don’t think it’s often that many wives actually try and find their husbands a job and, and say just, just go through this job into cause that’s where I want to live. That that’s
Paul Wallace (00:13:37):
Well, I, I, I think the piece in looking back on it was she actually picked a a post that was a good fit for me. And so how she actually knew that I have no, I have no idea. It probably was just lucky.
Peter O’Toole (00:13:51):
She’s very impressive. Impressive. You mentioned Sixaxis so it’s so, you know, you’ve been on the dark side, is that the right way to word it? You’ve been outta academia. You’ve worked in industry. Tell me a bit about your time within Zen
Paul Wallace (00:14:05):
Sixaxis was a spinoff, as I think I said from SmithKline and at SmithKline, we had developed the group that I was working with, I was pretty much focused on clinical assays, but the group I was working with had developed these dyes, the PKH dyes, and these are lipophilic dyes that stably insert into the membrane of of cells. And we all wore many different hats. I was in charge of IT and the, the phone systems and we also the immunological development and I had gone down to, so we, we made, we basically made the dyes and we were trying to turn this into a pharmaceutical company with the idea that we would use dyes to well, one of the ideas was that we leave, leave, put them into a catheter and then as people were doing stents, we could leave the dye behind. It would then adhere to the, the, the vessels. And it would inhibit the that we’d put an inhibitor on it of proliferation. So you could inhibit the, the development of the the plaque. I was working on tills tumor for trading lymphocytes. And I was down at NIH as, as a partnership or collaboration with the folks at NIH. And we, our idea was to put a nuclea tie on the tills or well on the linker and then attach it to the tills and then allow the till to migrate to the tumor. And then we could a radiate it and basically kill, kill the tumor from within. And so there was a mouse model working with and I stained the tills up with this nice bright dye PKH 26 inject them into the tumor, very mice. And then a week later I’d pull ’em out and the things were be really dim. I mean, I had put them in and they were, they were bright red and I’d pull ’em out and they were dim and I, I do what anybody else would do. I went in and I’d put more dye on them so that they would they even brighter. And then I pulled ’em out and they were dim and so I didn’t think of this, but somebody else said, you know, maybe, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that maybe there’s a positive thing there. And so what do you mean? Well, maybe what’s happening is the, the cells are dividing and what’s happening is the dye is being diluted out amongst the amongst the the daughters. And of course that’s exactly what would happen. And then out of that came and assay. That was what was at the time was called the cell census plus assay where we would label the cells up with with a dye, stimulate them in vitro and then pull ’em out and run ’em on a flow cytometer. But I, I, I, I have to give somebody else credit for actually seeing the potential there, cuz I was just annoyed that these things were were, were dead. I wanted ’em to be as bright as possible and then you have a cell and that was, that was Sixaxis was really a good, was a, was a good experience. I would highly recommend that anybody who is you know, going into getting started work at a startup, cuz that’s a, that’s really an that’s an exciting
Peter O’Toole (00:17:16):
Time. I, I, I think I’d be tempted to say if, if you’re interested in getting an experience, go work for yourself. Cause you sent me this picture as well, which, which this tell or what is going on with this picture?
Paul Wallace (00:17:31):
So this is the group at where I am now at Roswell. It’s gotta be a Halloween and we’ve got everybody dressed up in well, we’ve got everything from ninjas to witches. I’m not sure what Kira’s wearing, but that looks to me like Frankenstein in the middle there. Hans is the guy with the hat, the beard and then Ed with the lasers big what I don’t what’s this big something laser do not look into the beam with the remaining eye. Ed is our engineer. So this was, we we’ve had Roswell been a fun play and we’ve had a, we’ve had a fun time and this is basically a one of many shots of the Halloween that we all, all got dressed up and, and enjoyed. Yeah.
Peter O’Toole (00:18:19):
A good love spirit. I presume.
Paul Wallace (00:18:22):
I, I think so. I mean, we’ve actually the staff that I, all these people with the exception of one has retired are still here now. This we’ve had a lot of lot of history with this
Peter O’Toole (00:18:35):
Group. I’ve gotta sound, I’m just looking at the guy with the, the blue jacket looks a bit like Ed Sheron UK artists.
Paul Wallace (00:18:46):
He does all, he writes all our templates, so puts together all our templates, Excel smart guy. That’s Matt. And I’m not what is that I should know better, but what’s that on his shoulder
Peter O’Toole (00:18:59):
Tamagotchi or something it’s, I’m not the best to ask. It’s
Paul Wallace (00:19:03):
One of those cartoon characters.
Peter O’Toole (00:19:06):
I’m not the best to ask Pokemon on Pokemon on I don’t
Paul Wallace (00:19:10):
Pokemon. Maybe that’s a Pokemon
Peter O’Toole (00:19:12):
Pokemon on I think and they did this voluntarily. You didn’t sort of just hypnotize it.
Paul Wallace (00:19:17):
Oh, this is Mark Munson. So I, this was at GLIIFCA. You, you know, you know anything about GLIIFCA, that’s a Great Lakes International Imaging and Flow Cytometry Association which is basically, as the name says, it’s any flow lab in the great lakes. It touches a great lake and there there’s been some leniency to that definition over the, over the years because we’ve had people from Massachusetts and Virginia. And so it, it is migrated to any place where there has water that has touched a great so I, I, I suspect that means that you could be a a member of GLIIFCA as well, but that was a picture of of mark. And there was a contest, there’s a party, a big party, every, every GLIIFCA and a contest to see who had the most interesting or outrageous costume. And I, I, those, those, those classes were wild.
Peter O’Toole (00:20:14):
So on a more serious though, maybe not that serious note coming back to work a bit, what is your favorite publication that you’ve authored and co-authored them and why was that your favorite? Not necessarily the, the, the biggest impacting, but for whatever reason, what is your favorite publication?
Paul Wallace (00:20:32):
That’s a that’s. I mean, I, you know, you get into all your all your publications and enjoyment. I, I guess you know, what we’re working on right now is multiple multi myeloma MRD. So done a lot of work in, in that area. And there’s a postoc here, who’s, who’s working, working on that with me. And you know, that’s been that, that working with him has been a a great experience. I, I kind of feel that we made it a pretty substantial impact. And I mean back, Liam was involved in this as well, trying to standardize the assay, the multi myeloma MRD assay across multiple multiple countries, multiple multiple labs. And so that, to me, that’s, I’m sure when I look back on it, that will be a major one, you know, another one that comes to mind and I’m gonna get up and walk away for a second. But another one that comes to mind is a Fox P3 assay. So it was an early Fox P3 assay and on the can you see that? Okay.
Peter O’Toole (00:21:47):
I Cytometry B yep.
Paul Wallace (00:21:49):
Yeah. This was this publication which was on the cover of Cytometry B was one that I did with my son. So my son came here to work for about
Peter O’Toole (00:22:01):
Curious, Paul, just show us again, just lift it a bit higher so we can actually see,
Paul Wallace (00:22:04):
Let me, you tell me if I, I don’t have my camera, so I really can’t.
Peter O’Toole (00:22:09):
Paul Wallace (00:22:10):
Yeah. So this was basically something that I did with my son where we were looking at the, at C127 Fox P3 and basically published it together in Cytometry B. So I I’m sure it’s one of the one, one of the ones I’m most proud of is this time I spent doing science with my son, Steven, who saw the, the grant writing stuff and the amount of hours that went into this and decided he didn’t wanna have anything to do with it, although he was accepted in the graduate program he didn’t have anything to do with it. And so now he’s he’s a doctor out in Ohio which I guess is he, he thinks is a much easier life then had been a flow cytometrist
Peter O’Toole (00:22:54):
Who’s more important who’s diagnosing and prescribing or the scientist who’s developing the assays and the treatments.
Paul Wallace (00:23:04):
Oh I, I mean, I, we may have to beep this out, but cuz I really think that the, the guy that’s the, the doc who’s doing the, the treatments basically they’re following an algorithm and it’s, it’s all pretty much step by step. Whereas the scientist really has to think through and experiment and do do different things. So I, I I’m, I’m glad that I went down the route of the, of the, the, the scientists, cuz I would think that after a while you see the same patients with the same diseases over and over again, it, it would get boring, although I’m sure there’s a, the, the, the, you know, the, the being able to help people is, is certainly very significant as well, but you both sides are, are are helping.
Peter O’Toole (00:23:50):
If you think about the assays that you’ve helped design or designed and published and now used clinically to diagnose, they couldn’t do that with that, that effort behind the scenes.
Paul Wallace (00:24:02):
That that’s definitely correct. I just wish that I’d gotten a penny for every time the test was performed. A lot of it went back in the industry you know, that would all go back into Smith Kline’s coffers. And there was a, there was an assay that I developed there. This was, this was an Eliza assay. That was for Lyme disease. So long before Lyme was even been even something that anybody had heard of. I read an article in the journal of infectious disease and I knew there was somebody at the state labs who was working on the bud. And so we, we teamed up and I basically put together a, a immunofluorescent assay for, for Lyme disease. And then Lyme disease started appearing on the, the wall street journal, New York times, you had time magazine, all that stuff. And before you knew it, we were doing hundreds and hundreds of line tests a day at the at Smith Smith Kline. We ended up creating a whole lab just, just to do the testing and looking at automation. And at one point they were considering to changing the name with Smith Kline to Smith Kline. But apparently it’s not, but I, I, I look back at that, gosh, I wish I’d had a penny for each one of those.
Peter O’Toole (00:25:15):
So yeah, it is a very big influence. So obviously your career’s been hugely successful. You’ve, you know, gone through, you’ve had lots of influence, lots of impacts, you know, we, which people won’t even know to be thankful to you about, because again, it’s kind the hidden, hidden people behind the doctors and the clinicians at that point, but it, it sounds all great. You’ve seen your lab having a fun time. You’ve seen that the conferences can be good. Fun. What have you found the most difficult time or most challenging time so far in your career?
Paul Wallace (00:25:48):
Well, I, I guess the beginning and at the end beginning when I was doing when I was, you know, doing my, really working my PhD. Oh no. Even before that, when I was working my master’s, I had this, I had this project where the idea was to look at graph versus host disease. And so it was a, it was a, actually it was, I look back on it. It was probably more work, went in my masters than into my PhD at times. And the idea was that we were looking at different populations of cells. These, these populations turned out that the CD four and CD eight, but it was before we knew what a CD four was or what a CD eight was. And so we were looking at different synergistic interactions between the different, these different populations of cells. And one of the things I wanted to look at was their effect, or their impact on grant versus host disease. And the way that assay was set up is you would put different, you you’d take a nude mouse, which had no, no T-cells. And then you would inject in different, different numbers of these different populations, weight a allow, then come in with a with something that was allogeneic allogeneic cells. And then a day or two later, probably three or four days later, we would look at the proliferation by injecting tri thymine in the tail vein of the mouse. And it’s, it sounded like a complicated assay. It was a complicated asset. I could not get it to work, but my, my entire career rested on being able to get some data off of this, at least that’s how you felt. So it was, it, it was tough in the sense that as an inpatient youth, I was forced to really think through things and, and deal with failure and to really adjust to, you know, how, how am I, how am I gonna fix it? Um and I, that was not, that definitely was not easy. The idea of experiments not working well after, you know, weeks of planning and weeks of executing them. So that, that was a difficult lesson for me personally to learn. Eventually I came up with a different assay which was using the mixed lip reaction, which is basically doing the whole thing in into. But that process was difficult. And I’m like, can Peter I’ll tell you at the end which is really where I am now of my career. Cuz I’m, I think, you know, I’m thinking about retirement it’s letting things go. So after having managed, you know, the, this facility for 20 years we have, you know, the, the, the people who have been trained and are more than competent, but then let them actually make the decisions and turn it over to turn it over to them. I think is probably the is, is probably the second hardest thing that I’ve done to, I always wanna tell no, this, I wanna tell, no, this is this is the way you will do it. Of course that’s that that’s backing off and letting people learn, learn for themselves was something you have to do, but it that’s tough as well.
Peter O’Toole (00:29:00):
Okay. So you said you are coming up to retirement then. So I was going to ask you what you do to relax outside of work, but actually I’m gonna change it now. So when you’ve got time on your hands, what are you going to do?
Paul Wallace (00:29:12):
Well I think, I think you know this, but we bought a house in Sedona, Arizona. And so we’re planning on sort of splitting our time between Sedona and here. What I, what I enjoy doing a lot is is hiking. So I’ll I’m sure I will be out there. I know I’ll be out there going for for regular hikes. That’s actually just outside the so this picture is of I guess of myself and what you’re looking at is, is basically coffee pot. So this is a red stoned cliffs, just, just literally behind our house. And you know, I’ve been out there quite a bit and we’ve I’ve hiked up back in the, those into those mountains and those Hills and behind them. And that’s, I’m sure that that’s a big part of it. Another big part of it is spending time with my kids. That’s something that I, I I’d very much like to do in the grandchildren. So I, I think that, and then I’m, I’ve got a garden going here in in Buffalo and been thinking about chickens. I, I, I will still be associated with the, with Roswell, so I’ll, I am envisioning myself doing some work for Roswell as well.
Peter O’Toole (00:30:34):
So keep him busy.
Paul Wallace (00:30:37):
Sure. I, I actually I have no doubt that I’ll be busy but it’d be nice if I could reduce it down to like 40 hours a week and just five days, five, five days a week,
Peter O’Toole (00:30:51):
Which is a good comment. Actually, you’ve sent some other pictures. Now, these just touching through these quite quickly, we’ve got yourselves here.
Paul Wallace (00:31:03):
So this is, this is in a Chile,, I guess, or Argentina, but it was those that’s Patagonia. So that’s the that’s that is Patagonia, which is a vacation that my wife and I took. It’s a beautiful lake. And that was a, that was a fun time. That was, but again, that’s off hiking and doing doing stuff, Great Wall of China.
Peter O’Toole (00:31:31):
This one doesn’t need much description, does it even, I can guess this is a great wall of China.
Paul Wallace (00:31:34):
Yeah. You know, I think, I think the reason for this picture was really just in thanks to to flow cytometry. Yeah, I, I have been very fortunate, I think many of us have been very fortunate in that because of flow cytometry, I have had the opportunity to go all over the world. And you know, it’s teaching training people and how to use the cytometer, but really every continent I’ve been, I’ve been, been invited to, and this was this, this was China. I believe this was a live education task force that we were doing in in Beijing. But been there, been there a couple times. And one of the things that I promised myself when I became president of ISAC was that I would always go if I, any place that I went to, I would then tack on like two or three days of of of, of touring. And again, this is the the tomb with all the, all the soldiers. This is, this is probably one of the, one of the nicer places I saw with, you can see there was horses down there and then the those are, those are the, the generals with that type of that type of hairdo. It’s just a shame that it got ruined.
Peter O’Toole (00:32:50):
So it, it, so it was great. I was showing those actually show, obviously you got a great passion for traveling and I’m sure you’ll do more traveling as well. But you also touched on the fact that it’s not just going to conferences, but you’re out there teaching running courses. And that’s a very important aspect. You developed assays, you’re a leader in the field, your clinical research and clinical diagnosis, but do you just describe the importance of teaching, surely this is easy. You can just pick up a scientific paper, grab a flow cytometer and run it. No,
Paul Wallace (00:33:24):
No, I don’t think so. I, I think, you know, the answer to that as well. There are a lot of people who feel that way, and there are a lot of people who, who, who do it, don’t get any, don’t get any data, but I think, I think all my, all really all my life I’ve been involved in some sort of some sort of teaching and much of it you know, was certainly engaged in with flow cytometry. And so we’ve, we’ve put together the light education. So we’re that we’re doing courses in India, we’re doing courses in in Vietnam. You know, it, I guess if I was to weave that into a story one of the things that was, was became very important with HIV was that, you know, getting all those antiretrovirals out to th third war countries, developing nations and you know, one of the things that they, the US did was to create this presidential fund that was then used to pay for the medication. So you’re sending all this medication into Nigeria or into or into Africa. And when you, when do you actually deliver it? So you have to know what the CD four count was in order to make a decision as to whether or not that patient is going to is time for that patient to put on antiretroviral. So nobody had any idea how to do CD four testing. So while we can be really helpful on the, in terms of providing medication, the next step was to engage people in, in terms of doing the proper testing. So introducing flow cytometry in, in Africa was something that really required a lot of education, a lot of training, and basically the philosophy was to train the trainer. So you would go in, you’d do a training program, teach people how to, how to teach this stuff, and then they they’d go out into the Bush and and train to go to do it. You know, now I think one of the things I’m really proud of is the fact that here at Roswell, we have a graduate level course that we offer each semester primarily to the immunology students, but it’s open to the University of Buffalo community. And we have we go through a, basically a semester training in how to do flow cytometry, everything from, you know, what a flow cytometer is to what’s good experimental design, then they have practicals that they, that they do. And it’s a four hour credit. So it’s a, it’s a, you know, a lot of credits for it. It’s immunology has made it mandatory for all of their students. I think this is probably the only oh, well, send me an email if, if anybody else is doing one. But I think it’s probably the only course out there that is a graduate level course dedicated to flow flow cytometry.
Peter O’Toole (00:36:14):
Yeah, certainly at York, we, we don’t do that at, at York. There is an element of flow optometry and the undergraduates come and use our flow cytometers for one of the modules. But we do run a lot of external courses which internals can come to, cuz I think the important bit maybe missed out of that, which your course is do it, is it inspires people to go on and it can give people, they can realize flow cytometry can be a career. And there’s a, still a very fast and very diverse set of applications that flow cytometry can do. I think that’s so important that I think delivery teaching and delivering on courses is one of the most influential ways that we can develop other people’s careers. I think it’s tremendous. And when it comes to Africa, there’s a big thing at the moment, even at York, that we are leading a project with four other countries in east Africa. So that actually been to us, a teach teacher trainer, just, just as you said but actually as soon as we are allowed to again, cause obviously times have been difficult over the last couple years. We’ll hope to get back over there because then we can teach far more people and far more trainers, impossible to bring over to the UK. So they all have the same. Cytometers, they’re all just as talented. It’s just, yeah. I, I think as a group of people you can influence far better than
Paul Wallace (00:37:37):
Yeah. And there’s no, there’s no, you, there is a a, you know, you can influence people’s careers, influence cytometry. And I mean, I, you know, we certainly have a, have a history of doing that here and people who have taken the courses and gone on and you know, gone to work in labs or gone to even started up their own SRL. And it’s also the quality of the data. Just ensuring that people understand what good data is about. One of my favorite lines was when somebody would come in and they, they would ask me, what, what does this mean? And I would, I would say, well, what, what do you want it to mean? We could make it look any way you want it to look. And you know, with flow, it’s, you, it’s all you know, depending where you set your voltages and how you set up your conversation and all, all of that, you know, you can get any type of data you want. And and so you really need to know what’s, what’s how to do it.
Peter O’Toole (00:38:36):
We touched on inspiring people, but who have been your inspirations?
Paul Wallace (00:38:42):
Oh there have been a lot actually quite, quite a few, of course, Page Morahan was my mentor in when I was doing my PhD and she taught me how to ask questions and, and think about things not so much and just, I wanna do this, but how am I gonna do it? And what’s, what’s the question that I’m trying to ask and to forget all the other stuff that sort of that comes along to really how to focus you know, there’s Kathy Muirhead, who I mentioned earlier with the, when she was very much involved with the the dyes and it’s been in my career, we’ve been working together probably for, for 30, 35 years. And so we have, we have sort of moved together through a lot of things. She’s very much involved in ISAC now. She can blame me for engaging her in that she’s very detail oriented. She’s working on the policy and procedures. Kathy’s a, a dear friend and really lot of my mentors have gone on to become dear friends. One person, I, I really think of when you ask the question though, I was gentleman named Carleton Stewart and Carleton was also very much involved in, in clinical flow cytometry. I, I, I, when I was doing my PhD, Page would say, I didn’t go to her with a question and she’d say, oh, go call Carl, go call Carl. And I, so I I’d call Carl. Usually he wasn’t there, but he would return the call that day. And we’d get into a long discussion you know, 45 minutes to an hour or over the phone talking about different things to the flow cytometer. And you know, this guy in my mind, you know, I’m a student, he was a God. I mean, he was, he was, he was definitely a superhero. And you know, we, we ended up communicating and then there’s a [inaudible] flow cytometer course, which is a research course. It’s, I think it’s in its 40th year or 42nd year or something like that which I was invited to to teach at. And I’m down the cafeteria and in walks Carl it’s the first time I’ve ever met him. In person we, we talked and I certainly knew what he looked like from pictures, but he, and he sits down in front of me. And we, we introduced ourselves like, oh, I think we both knew who each other was. And this I’m just really, really excited. I’m talking to the, the God, my God of Flow cytometry. And he turned around and told the raunchiest joke, you have, you have ever heard, wow. Uh it was, it was hilarious. I but it, it definitely knocked knocked me for a loop. And you know, we got to be very good friends at the, at, at the course. And I always look forward to meeting him at that. And then at one point he called me up and asked if I would apply for the job here at Roswell. And of course I did and ended up following in his footsteps, but there was a period of probably six months to nine months where we were working on things together. He was, he was telling me who to avoid the administration and why he did this this way. And we got, we we’re out to dinner a couple times a week with ourselves and our wives. And I just became a very good friend with him to the point where we were when he, after he did leave he was coming back and staying with me, I’d be out. He was New Mexico and staying, staying with them. So he went from being somebody that I was impressed that return my phone calls to really a superhero, to a very, very close friend. And I, so I, Carl he taught me a lot, definitely taught me a lot.
Peter O’Toole (00:42:23):
You do realize I’m really curious to know what the joke was, but it’s probably not right to, I,
Paul Wallace (00:42:28):
I, I, I, I thought about it. But I probably is not a good idea to tell
Peter O’Toole (00:42:33):
Often ask at the end of one of these, what’s your favorite science joke, but I think I’ve been warned off doing that.
Paul Wallace (00:42:40):
I don’t think it’s had any science., probably genitalia at that type of thing
Peter O’Toole (00:42:45):
Inspiration, this is a question now, which is, I, I’ve not tried. Who would you, dead or alive, science or non-science, who would you most like to meet?
Paul Wallace (00:42:56):
Who would I most like to meet? Oh my goodness. I, I, when I think about that type of thing, I, it’s sort of like, I really, I don’t know if there’s a person, although maybe Jefferson or one of the, one of the, the presidents of the the probably Jefferson the us just to know what it was like back then. I think I’d like to go back far enough in time to where, you know, society was more agricultural and things, things were on that line. You know, that’s, that’s the person that comes to my mind right off is Thomas Jefferson, who was, I think the third president of the US.
Peter O’Toole (00:43:36):
That’s a very good answer. I’ve gotta say, actually I do another podcast series called The Microscopists and Ernst Stelzer became a physicist. He wants to invent a time machine to go back, to see people who to see what the time was like, what he was really like to live at those periods of time.
Paul Wallace (00:43:51):
I mean, you know, if, if I had the opportunity, I would, you know Jefferson is certain of the person I would most like to meet, although in, in, in that response. But really I’d like to be able to go back to you know, even stone age just, just to understand what, what things are like over had been over the the years.
Peter O’Toole (00:44:11):
Yeah. The flow cytometers weren’t as advanced back then. So, so, so quick fire for you. So what’s your favorite food?
Paul Wallace (00:44:20):
My favorite food. I, I, as a, as a, a genre, I really like Indian food so that I just, I love going to India and eating the food there. And just today a lady brought in some it’s a, a chick pea plus plus chicken that just smells good with all those places in, when I think of it probably there’s a Curried cauliflower that I love loved to love to eat there, but other than that, you know, I’m happy with steaks and chips. Yeah.
Peter O’Toole (00:44:53):
But no, no, even the curried cauliflower sounds good. Okay. What food do you most dislike?
Paul Wallace (00:45:01):
I was, I, I absolutely despise liver. I, okay. I did not. I, I have, I have never liked liver and I think of it as the cesspool of the body. So I never
Peter O’Toole (00:45:16):
Kidneys or liver
Paul Wallace (00:45:18):
Do I have a choice? Definitely be a kidney. But, but neither I
Peter O’Toole (00:45:23):
About say, cause surely kidneys are worse than liver. Surely.
Paul Wallace (00:45:26):
Surely can’t be it. Can’t it can’t I guess. I personally I’ve always wondered what’s an steak in kidney pie. And you would, you know, better than I, it’s not something that we here in the states. Yeah,
Peter O’Toole (00:45:41):
Yeah. You get the kidneys. Yeah. Not my cup of tea. Definitely not talking to which coffee or tea.
Paul Wallace (00:45:49):
Actually I don’t, I, I don’t drink either now. I used to drink well, I used to drink coffee, but I would come into work and I’d be so excited. After my fourth mug of coffee that I decided it probably was time to, to slack off on that. I switched over to tea which I would drink, drink a little bit, but these, these days I don’t drink that much tea. So usually for me, it’s like some, some Selter water or something like that.
Peter O’Toole (00:46:17):
Okay. So beer or wine?
Paul Wallace (00:46:21):
Peter O’Toole (00:46:23):
I knew you were gonna say that answer judging by the pictures you sent.
Paul Wallace (00:46:27):
Yeah. I, this is, this is in Prague where they had this absolutely delicious beer. And you know, I don’t, I honestly, I don’t remember the name of it, but but it’s it’s, they would, they would not only have it on, in a kegs, but they also had it in in containers that they would fill up every day. And this is, this is from one of those. My wife is impressed by this. I think this is probably a leader with a a good head, probably an, an inch or so of of foam on the top. And, you know, Prague was drinking beer. That was, that was, that was definitely a good thing.
Peter O’Toole (00:47:09):
Okay. So moving on the next a book or TV
Paul Wallace (00:47:18):
These days it’s mostly books on tape. You know I don’t watch too much TV but I do listen to, you know, do listen to a lot of, a lot of books and I sort of envision myself. We were talking about retirement. I sort of envisioned myself reading, reading a lot more. What, what it, now it’s mostly the journals and the you know, the, the manuscripts and, and that type of thing.
Peter O’Toole (00:47:41):
So reading genre, what, what type of books do you read? What’s the genre?
Paul Wallace (00:47:46):
Well, what I, I sort of bounce back and forth. I’ll do a lot of history and then I’ll move into these thrillers, you know, where the, the seal team six is coming in and saving, saving the day or something along that line. So I, I go back, I go back and forth between that, and I went basically, I just go through stages. I’ll some of the natural history books aboutthe ants or about just finished one on Ravens that I very much enjoyed. And just how smart the Ravens are.
Peter O’Toole (00:48:16):
Okay. Favorite movie,
Paul Wallace (00:48:19):
Favorite movie? Probably the Star Wars, I guess, would be the one Doesn’t sound like your favorite. But that was, that was exciting. You know, I reme I was working my master, so, you know, I, in my very early twenties and the very first Star Wars came out and that was such a revolutionary approach to, to, to movies that you know, it definitely, it definitely had an impact on me. I dunno about, so much about the latter ones, but
Peter O’Toole (00:48:56):
I was about to say, do you like the latest ones?
Paul Wallace (00:48:59):
I don’t really pay as much attention to ’em. You know, I’ve always been tempted, well, maybe someday I’ll sit down and binge on on Star Wars. But I’ve yet to do that. I, I think probably the first two or three were, were ones that I do. I Enjoy.
Peter O’Toole (00:49:11):
You’ll have to give it a go. You’ll have to give it a go. What about music? What
Paul Wallace (00:49:17):
About, I’m sorry, Peter, what about you?
Peter O’Toole (00:49:21):
As a Star Wars, I’m more a Star Trek person and star wars, and I’m not sure the two ever really coexist in people. I love both. So I’m definitely more of a Treky than a star wars person.
Paul Wallace (00:49:32):
I just finished a book. It was basically the three body problem which is, which is a scientific book, a sci fiction book. And it’s about the it’s a, it’s a planted up in Thero strain. That’s got three different stars and the stars are all because of the gravitational pull of there’s nothing consistent about it. And they’re basically, they’re looking at their world ending. And so they’ve they’ve located earth and they’re gonna be on, they go on their way to earth. And that was so I do, I do like the science fiction and I would, I could, although I think of of Star Trek is more of a TV show grant. There’s plenty of, there’s plenty of that’s another, that’s be another genre that I like as well. And I dunno if they co-exist but
Peter O’Toole (00:50:21):
They’re, yeah, it’s probably just one of those legacy things when I was growing up for it. What about the music? What, what’s your
Paul Wallace (00:50:30):
Favorite? I go through different, different things there. You know, certainly when I was younger, it was rock and roll. And these days I’ll listen to well, the group that cuts my mind right off is Buckethead. But this is basically like more space electronic type of music.
Peter O’Toole (00:50:56):
I like it. Yeah. I could cope with that. It’s much better than Star Wars. To come back into the more serious side at the moment in flow optometry, a big thing is spectral flow cytometry some of the microscopists have had for a little while. Cytometry is getting to grips with. Do you think there’s still a reluctance to accept spectral flow cytometry?
Paul Wallace (00:51:24):
We have, we have a spectral here and you know, I’m a, a big fan of it. I certainly think that that’s where what the, the future is. And I, I, I’m convinced of that. I do think that in terms of your, your nor your average person that comes into to do flow cytometry, they’re not looking for challenges, they’re, they basically have things that are setting up and they have it it’s working well. They’re comfortable with it. In fact, anytime we pull out a laser and put a new laser and tell ’em, they have to reestablish their, their voltages and controls. They, they, they get upset with us. But but truthfully, I, I think that spectra is the the future. And so what you’ve got, but you’ve put up here is this was a, this is a spectral cytometer. It was in Kylie Price‘s lab, in New Zealand. And at this point it’s, it’s, it’s a three laser, they were upgrading it to to a, a fourth laser. And it’s basically the inside workings of it. And you know, what I, what I think of when I, when I see this is just how far we’ve come. I mean, I mentioned at the start about, we had this instrument with six foot lasers, it was water cooler, and here you’re looking at something with, with, it’s got SciTech on it 3, 4 8, and those are, those are lasers of that. This thing that have just been shrunk down to just tiny, little, tiny, little tiny little things in the back, the AP is the APD array. And there, you know, that there, you’re looking at depending on the, the channel, but like 16 different different detectors, you know, that was just unimaginable. So the technology is just amazed, amazes me as where, where it’s gone. I think this was and, you know, so it really, it really is absolutely amazing.
Peter O’Toole (00:53:13):
Yeah, I think flow it developed, it developed fast, but it slowed down. I would say for some years, each new system was as maybe an extra laser, another few detectors. It wasn’t groundbreaking. I think spectral has opened up. It’s a big step forward. I think place,
Paul Wallace (00:53:31):
Can you, this has been made, but this is basically a Sytech who I think we all know start off were doing repairs. And then when went into, went into the spectral big time. But, but frankly you know, it’s not one of the major manufacturers are, are, well, they become a major manufacturer, but so it’s taken these types of these types of leaps, haven’t really been done by the the, the BD’S and the Beckman Coulter. It’s been the, the ones off to the, off to the side, even you think about Beckman, you know, they’ve got a great line with the cytoflex, but that was something that I can remember it being at at an ISAC meeting where it was sort of a prototype a different concept. And everybody was drooling over the fact that here was a really, really interesting instrument. So you know, it’s the, I think it’s the innovators that are really responsible for a lot of these big leaps that, that you see here.
Peter O’Toole (00:54:27):
So I’m gonna ask a question. Why do you think it is that BD and Coulter didn’t develop their own spectral analyzer in time? Because it’s been there, the tech, they knew about the technology, they can see it in other fields. Why, Why did they not honestly,
Paul Wallace (00:54:41):
I, I, I think,uit’s what we’re comfortable with, I mean, with the, with the side effects, I mean, you’re really approaching a lot of different, I’m not sure was it 25 or, or so different,uchannels that you can, you can achieve. And that’s probably not too much different than this, this,uthree lens with it. She’s got,uhere. Uyeah, I think people become comfortable with the technology. There’s also regulations. So you, you get something that’s got the IBD uthe, the, the CE label on it, and it’s a lot of work to go through that whole process again. So I think, I think there’s a reluctance,uto, to go off and to something that’s completely new, but frankly, I don’t understand there’s a lot of there’s. Uyou know, I think obviously BD had,usome, some insights in the Spectral, what they thought they could do it better with,uwith band [inaudible] voltage. Uand I think, I think they’re, they’re, they’re learning different. You gotta be happy about it. I mean, you’ve gotta be happy that everybody’s challenging different things. Uyou know, the,uthe stuff that went on in Boulder with animation, I mean, there, there’s lots of good things that have come out of,uthe innovators.
Peter O’Toole (00:55:56):
No, and I think there’s a lot more, I think we’re gonna see a very rapid period of development as technology moves forward to enable new things, which maybe wasn’t there as well, 10, 15 years ago, you
Paul Wallace (00:56:07):
Figure about the Fluor chrome. So mean the what’s going on with Fluor chrome. I mean, you know, for, for decades, we were stuck with FIPSE then PE came in and, and, you know, you look at the the figures that, you know, Mario’s published this where you just see the log, the growth in the number of Fluor chrome. And, you know, I thought, well, we get the BBS and the, the BUVs, you know, things are gonna, we’ve pretty much tapped out, but no, I mean, every time you turn around, there’s, there’s another Fluor chrome that gonna fit. So it seems almost like you can create, and I think this is true. You can create an instrument with so many channels and then you can turn around and develop a Fluor chrome that will be good for that particular channel.
Peter O’Toole (00:56:47):
Yeah. And beyond the visible range now, as we go right out, you know, I I’ve got cytoflex system and that that’s, you know, the 8 0 8 on that and pushing it. But as you say, I’m going to this around now, you mentioned how the lasers have got smaller and smaller and smaller, but that’s go forward in time. They’ve been able to miniaturize things, but I presume this is you. So actually, I think I’ve just mini you by going back in time. So got,
Paul Wallace (00:57:10):
Yeah. So this is myself and my sister Carol I probably am like five or so in this picture. That’s a, that’s a Ford I guess just a Ford, a blue Ford that my, my parents had. I, I guess it’s Easter. And you know, long before seat belts, my sister Carol, she used to take, like to take off all her clothes. And she would sit in the back of the car up, up between the the back window. And there was a platform for guess was above the trunk. And it’s completely naked, just sun, sun bathing herself in the, in the backseat. So when I see this picture, I, and I think of her that’s, that’s the, the definitely the memory have, but we must have been, she’s got a little white gloves on. She used go happy. We we’ve both outfit in the red, I still like red.
Peter O’Toole (00:58:07):
Oh, sorry. I flicked to the wrong picture on that one. But you also sent these pictures
Paul Wallace (00:58:11):
Is this, this is Niagara falls. Just, you know, about a half hour north of Buffalo. This is kind of a nice shot with the the rainbow. And then marina is the is the, a lady pictured here. And she had come over from Bosnia to do some training in, in flow cytometry. She’s an MD PhD and had a lab in in Bosnia that they were trying to sort of upgrade to the next level. And she had written a grant to ICCS to come over and, and, and do some, do some training with us. So this, we, I, one of the things that anybody who comes to Buffalo I’m happy to happy to do is take em out to the falls. And I’ve got a nice walk that I like to do, but that’s a, I think that would be the the the, the Veil falls.
Peter O’Toole (00:59:11):
So that brings us round, sort of, full cycle really as to yeah. Back to training and influencing and everything else. I realize actually, I think
Paul Wallace (00:59:21):
Definitely a lot of fall in that picture. Uh but, you know, with the, with the, with the falls they have it down. They have, they have figured out exactly how much water they need to let over the over the falls in order to make it look spectacular. But the most of it’s all underground and be popped up and going through systems to generate electricity,
Peter O’Toole (00:59:47):
Which actually sort of leads to the next point. So, so actually we are up to the hour, sorry, I have to be conscious. So you gimme, I’m sorry, we haven’t got all through your pictures, or even though your hobbies, your ice hockey team and stuff, but I would like to leave it on a slightly more serious note. We talked about technology there with the spectrum, we talked about technology at Niagra falls. What is the next big challenge for the next big development area for cytometry?
Paul Wallace (01:00:13):
Well, for, so I think the next big challenge is probably global warming and that would be really for all of us. I, I don’t know if there’s a role for Flow cytometry in global warming maybe trying to figure out how to make zero carbon lasers.
Peter O’Toole (01:00:30):
Well, you, you you’ve, I was about to say those, those smaller lasers are also sap a lot less energy as well. They have a much more energy efficient, so actually, maybe they are contributing those six foot lasers with the water chillers, the pumps, the energy, the heat, they were dissipating were very inefficient compared to what we have today.
Paul Wallace (01:00:50):
Yeah. Both here at Roswell. And certainly back at the Smith Kline days, we had dedicated power coming, you know, these two 20 lines that were, were coming in and were all isolated specifically for the, for the instruments. Yeah. yeah, I think the I, I guess what I, what I, what concerns me the most about flow cytometry what I think the biggest challenge is that it’s all becoming so you know simple to, to turn it on QC it, you know, we have sorts that basically do all the alignment and, and what have you for you? The QC is pretty much all automated and the costs are coming down. So I think that the cytometer is probably making themselves and they, they are certainly doing this now where they’re in, in many labs, but being run by people that really don’t know what they’re doing. And so I, I think a big challenge is on the educational front. Just ensuring the type of, the type of quality data that comes out of flow cytometry remains, remains high. One of the I’ve talked about the multi myeloma and are trying to standardize that assay. One of the things that I think flow suffers from is that we’re all a bunch of cowboys. I, Peter, I don’t know what assays you develop, but I can assure you that any assay I developed was better than anybody else’s period. And so they should be doing my assay and you know, that, that I, I’m probably not unique in that attitude. And so we all have different ways of doing something that is similar and the results are just a little bit different. So when we send out a a zap 70 result on a sample to a doc, they get one, one answer. They send it to another lab, they get a completely different answer, so that people who, who see more and more of the data become less convinced about less convinced about the data. So it scares me a little bit that as these instruments are going into labs, that really don’t, you know, they’re, they’re more focused on something else that that won’t be the quality data that that we see. So I think maintain the standards is probably the biggest challenge.
Peter O’Toole (01:02:57):
I think that’s a, an excellent huh. Answer. And on the note, Paul, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m sorry. I, I, there’s so much more, I wanted to ask, but I do appreciate, we have to, to wrap it up and obviously thank you for everyone for watching or listening, and please go and watch some of the other Flow Stars past and coming up. And I hope you’ve enjoyed it. So, Paul, thank you very much.
Paul Wallace (01:03:21):
Peter, thank you very much for you brought back some memories that I haven’t, I haven’t thought about in a long time and couple, couple questions I needed to really think about. I’m still not sure about the Star Wars answer, but we’ll, we’ll deal with that at another time.
Peter O’Toole (01:03:36):
Sure we’ll be fine. Thank you.