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Leonard Herzenberg Dies

Leonard Herzenberg, the developer of the fluorescence-activated cell sorter, has died, according to a press release from Stanford University School of Medicine. He was 81. He received a Kyoto Prize in 2006 for that work.

The cell sorter, or FACS, allows researchers to separate cells based on the fluorescent tags attached to antibodies on the cells' surfaces. This, Stanford notes, lets researchers study uncommon cells as well as ones whose population size fluctuates.

The university adds that Herzenberg got the idea to automate cell sorting because his eyes got tired doing it manually. His FACS machine drew upon work being done at Los Alamos National Laboratory to sort particles based on their size. He and his colleagues modified that machine and published their work in Science in 1969.

"Scientifically, he was a giant. The FACS technology was transformative to many fields, and is still regularly used today 30 years after its development," says Stanford's Michael Snyder in a statement.