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Cytometry is spearheading advances in quantitative cell based research with its technological emphasis on flow and image based cytometric assays. However, it is not only the innovative technologies but also innovations in increasing the quality and reliability of scientific publications. The prominent example is the MIFlowCyt standard that has been published 2 years ago (1) defining the minimal information that is needed to understand and repeat flow cytometry-based experiments. As of today, two manuscripts were published that were prepared in compliance with MIFlowCyt. One by Blimkie et al. (2) and the second now by Heimbeck and colleagues (this issue: page 823). Both manuscripts serve as prototype papers for authors to make their upcoming work in agreement with the rules. To ease their burden, our team has developed a checklist (this issue: page 813) that simplifies MIFlowCyt adaptation of a new manuscript.

In this issue is the inauguration of a new publication type for Cytometry Part A, Optimized Multicolor Immunofluorescence Panel (OMIP). OMIPs are designed to fill a gap in the literature: a mechanism for communicating and disseminating complex panels of reagents designed to interrogate phenotypic or functional aspects of cells. Since panels are basically methodological in nature, it is extravagant to devote an entire research paper to a single panel and most journals are appropriately loathe to do so. Similarly, including panel development in the eventual biological research publication is made difficult by publication constraints. Nonetheless, the development and optimization of these panels can be very complex, time-consuming, and laborious, akin to optimization of any new technique in a laboratory; disseminating that information is highly valuable.

As proposed, OMIPs will occupy only two printed pages, with a significant amount of supplemental information. Hence, the OMIP becomes a parsimonious publication mechanism by which information about the panel optimization and use can be communicated. By doing so in a peer-reviewed, citable publication, those who have carried out this significant effort can be suitably recognized for their work. In addition, the OMIP can serve to dramatically shorten development efforts in labs that are initiating a new immunophenotyping study, by providing a suitably-optimized panel or, at a minimum, a significant body of information from which a suitable panel can be built.

OMIPs embrace a broad field of scientific and clinical applications including clinical immunology (3; and Alamooti et al., this issue: page 890), leukemia (Xie et al. this issue: page 840), cytokine production (4), phenotyping of stem and progenitor cells (5; and Estes et al., this issue: page 831), and leukocytes (Heimbeck et al., this issue: page 823).

It should be stressed that OMIPs are not solely in the realm of flow cytometry. Polychromatic microscopes like the laser scanning cytometer (Zoog et al.; this issue: page 849) are becoming more common; panels optimized for fluorescence microscopy are timely and welcome. Image cytometry technologies may also include labeling techniques that apply sequential restaining to obtain highly complex patterns of cellular phenotype and function such as Toponomics (6) or chip based explorative cytometry (7).

In this issue, Mahnke et al. (this issue: page 814) provide a detailed proposal for how OMIPs are to be written. By definition, an OMIP is “optimized” so it is expected that considerable information about the optimization of the panel will be provided (in the supplemental, online portion of the OMIP). In addition, this issue contains two prototypical OMIPs (this issue : page 819 and page 821) to serve as templates and guides for future submissions.

The OMIP proposal should be considered a draft proposal. Cytometry welcomes criticisms and suggestions for the improvement of the publication guidelines. Please send such comments in the near future so that they can be considered and incorporated into the final OMIP publication guideline.

Like any published methods, OMIPs are likely to become out-of-date with the advent of new reagents or techniques. Cytometry Part A's publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, has committed to developing a mechanism by which OMIPs can be updated online. This will allow the original authors or other researchers to contribute updates, modifications, or notes (in an editor-reviewed, and possibly peer-reviewed method). In addition, the publisher Wiley-Blackwell will be developing an online database of OMIPs—a searchable tool that will hopefully be the first stop in a researcher's quest to find an appropriate panel. Such a tool is envisioned to have a relatively simple interface to query for all panels that, for example, use some given set of reagents.

We think there will be considerable enthusiasm for OMIPs. Initially, there could be significant duplication of submitted OMIPs, since many groups have devised similar panels to interrogate particular subsets or functions. To alleviate potential duplication, we are issuing a “Call For Submission of OMIPs” for publication in an upcoming special issue of Cytometry Part A. If you have a panel that you would like to submit as a new OMIP, please send an email inquiry to Mario Roederer (Roederer@nih.gov), who will serve as the Panels Editor. Brent Wood (University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA) will be the assistant Panels Editor. After the first wave of OMIPs has been published, duplication is less likely, but presubmission inquiries are still welcome.

The special issue of Cytometry Part A will be themed around multicolor immunophenotyping analysis. This issue will contain the first set of OMIPs that have gone through the presubmission inquiry and peer-review process, in addition to research articles, commentaries, and reviews related to the topic. This special issue is targeted for publication in early 2011; hence, OMIPs must be submitted by December 1, 2010 to allow for the review cycle. Presubmission inquiries should be made well-before that date. In addition, we welcome suggestions for other contributions related to multicolor immunophenotyping, by flow or imaging, for potential inclusion in this special issue.

We hope that OMIPs become an integral part of Cytometry Part A, with a few in every issue. This unique publication type will help make Cytometry Part A a resource for many laboratories, while providing a citable publication to reward the enormous time and effort needed to create the panel. Please review and comment on the OMIP publication proposal, and inquire about submitting your own OMIPs for publication in the special issue or future issues!

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