The facility, named in honour of the late Professor Donald W. Mason, who died in 2021, is a testament to his ground-breaking research and contributions to the field of immunology.
The Don Mason Flow Cytometry Facility was inaugurated at the Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, on Monday 12 June. The opening ceremony brought together members of Professor Mason’s family, former lab group members, and past and present Flow Cytometry users and staff. Mahalla Mason, Professor Mason’s widow, had the honour of cutting the ribbon to officially open the facility.
Professor Donald W. Mason’s picture in the Facility
Professor Donald W. Mason joined the Medical Research Council’s cellular immunology unit in the Dunn School of Pathology in 1973. He worked in the unit for 26 years until his retirement in 1999, by which time he was its director. Don’s ground-breaking research focused on regulatory T cells and their crucial role in preventing autoimmunity. His research paved the way for a deeper understanding of immunoregulation and the prevention of autoimmune diseases, leaving an indelible impact on the field of immunology.
In his speech, Emeritus Professor Simon Hunt, a close colleague, reflected on the transformative evolution of Flow and cell sorting technologies since the 1980s. He emphasised Don’s commitment to scientific innovation, which played a pivotal role in bringing these advancements to Oxford.
Simon also highlighted the profound impact of Don’s mentorship of his students, stating, “People themselves and what they learn are more important even than first-rate technique. Don left a stunning legacy of really superb scientists whose own achievements are in the topmost flight.” Amongst the attendees at the opening were Professor Dame Fiona Powrie, Director of the Kennedy Institute, University of Oxford, and Benedict Seddon, Professor of Immunology at UCL. Both started their research careers as DPhil students in Don’s lab. Ben expressed his gratitude, saying, “It was a pleasure and privilege to attend the facility opening and remember Don. A fitting and lasting tribute in the Dunn School.”
Don’s widow, Mahalla Mason, cuts the opening ribbon
Facility Manager Robert Hedley explained that the state-of-the-art Don Mason Flow Cytometry Facility incorporates the latest advancements in flow cytometry technology, allowing researchers to analyse millions of cells at a single-cell resolution within minutes. The facility offers a wide range of applications, including immunophenotyping, cell-cycle analysis, proliferation analysis, and transfection efficiency assessment. By providing researchers with cutting-edge equipment and expertise, the facility fosters scientific discovery and advances in immunology and related fields.
Robert said: “Forty-five years after Don had the insight to bring the first flow cytometer to Oxford, as we move into the new era of Imaging and spectral flow cytometry, the Don Mason Facility of Flow Cytometry provides access to the latest flow cytometers and cell sorting equipment to over forty research groups across Oxford.”
Professor Donald W. Mason’s research on the regulation of lymphocytes and their receptors has significantly advanced our understanding of the immune system and its role in preventing autoimmune diseases. His discoveries have paved the way for breakthroughs in the understanding of diabetes, gut and nervous system autoimmunity, and the development of targeted immunotherapies for various diseases, including cancer. By honouring his legacy through the Don Mason Flow Cytometry Facility, the Dunn School of Pathology continues to build upon Don’s remarkable contributions and to drive innovation in immunological research.