Fluidigm creates and manufactures innovative technologies and life science tools designed to revolutionize biology through a relentless pursuit of scientific truth. Its core technologies, based on microfluidics and mass cytometry, enable the exploration and analysis of individual cells as well as the industrial application of genomics.
Most microfluidics experts in the 1990s worked with rigid substances such as silicon, glass or plastic, but a young Stephen Quake, PhD, endeavored to create complex microplumbing from a novel rubber substrate. He and co-inventor Marc Unger created multilayer soft lithography, which allowed the development of integrated microscopic valves to control the flow of fluids within microchannels—and a new approach to biological liquid handling was born.
Meanwhile, Gajus Worthington, a college classmate of Quake’s, was acquiring the skills and experience necessary to build a successful company. Mentored in his early 20s by thought leaders such as Jim Collins, he set upon his personal mission to create an organization that would make lasting contributions to science and technology. In 1999, Worthington and Quake united the possibilities of Quake’s breakthrough with the desire to enable ever greater biological discoveries and co-founded Fluidigm. Today, the company’s integrated fluidic circuits (IFCs) offer rapid, efficient, highly parallel and reproducible multistep sample preparation and analysis of up to hundreds of genetic markers across thousands of samples in just hours, rather than days or weeks, allowing analysis of DNA, RNA, protein and epigenetics all the way down to the level of the individual cell.
Fluidigm microfluidic technology supports genomics-based applications such as single-cell gene expression, high-throughput SNP genotyping, protein expression analysis, digital PCR, mutant detection and more. Additionally, two of the company’s instruments have proven to be workhorses within the life science industry: the Biomark™ HD and C1™ systems.
Introduced in 2006 and updated in 2011, Biomark HD stands alone in the world of analytical instrumentation as a multi-application platform without compromise, providing high-quality results for every experimental approach. Since its debut in 2012, the C1 system has been revolutionizing single-cell research. The C1 allows users to rapidly and reliably isolate, phenotype and process individual cells for genomic analysis to survey tissue heterogeneity, identify critical rare cell populations, validate molecular pathways, characterize gene regulation and identify genetic variants.
By enabling systems-level biology at single-cell resolution, the C1 provides researchers with an unparalleled understanding of normal development, disease progression and the effects of therapeutic treatment. Select Biosciences, an independent research company, said in its January 2011 report on single-cell analysis (SCA) that "Fluidigm is the leading microfluidics company for SCA ... [and] Fluidigm is well-positioned to become a leader in SCA."
By 2013 the company’s position in the single-cell movement was clear: Independent research firm DeciBio, in its report “Single Cell Genomics (SCG): Market Size, Segmentation, Growth, Competition and Trends,” identified Fluidigm as the "undisputed leader in single-cell genomics." Meanwhile, the publisher of the journal Nature declared single-cell sequencing its Method of the Year.
In 2014 Fluidigm expanded into single-cell proteomics with its acquisition of technology leader DVS Sciences, the inventor of CyTOF®, a multiparameter single-cell protein analysis system. This technology utilizes antibodies tagged with transition metal atoms to label specific proteins on cells; the CyTOF 2 mass cytometer quantifies the transition metals using time-of-flight mass spectrometry. The precision of mass cytometry allowed the use of much larger panels, making high-parameter cytometry a reality and solidifying the company’s position at the leading edge of single-cell biology. That year Fluidigm also launched Juno™, which affordably scales next generation sequencing (NGS) DNA library prep through bench top automation with integrated thermal cycling. The system produces dozens to hundreds of sequencer ready amplicon libraries covering thousands of genomic target regions each.
The year 2015 marked a new high in the number of major Fluidigm product introductions. The company unveiled Callisto™, an automated cell culture system; Helios™, an enhanced CyTOF instrument; the high-throughput C1 mRNA Seq HT IFC; and Polaris™, whose unified workflow from cell selection to molecular analysis enables direct examination of how cellular environment relates to gene expression. In addition, Time magazine named Juno one of the 25 best inventions of the year.
Today more than 500 people work for Fluidigm worldwide. The company works with more than 1,000 valued customers pioneering the field of single-cell biology or using applied genomics in industrial applications to improve and protect our food supplies, track samples in the world's largest biobanks and in general provide faster, more accurate, lower-cost workflows to help improve people's lives.
Fluidigm is headquartered in South San Francisco, California, with sales and sales support operations from Beijing to Tokyo to Paris to San Francisco. Fluidigm conducts its research and development activities and manufactures its instruments, integrated fluidic circuits and reagents in its factories in South San Francisco, Singapore and Markham, Ontario.
Founding of Fluidigm Corporation (originally Mycometrix) to commercialize IFC technology developed in the Caltech laboratory of biophysicist Stephen Quake, PhD.
Launch of the TOPAZ® System for Protein Crystallization, including integrated fluidic circuits (IFCs) that assemble 768 crystallization conditions in parallel and instrumentation and software that automate the digital imaging and analysis of experiments.
Development of technology around a new class of IFCs named Dynamic Array™ IFCs and of prototypes yielding as many as 9,216 parallel datapoints.
Spinout from MDS Sciex of DVS Sciences, founded by Dmitry Bandura, Vladimir Baranov, Scott Tanner and Olga Ornatsky.
Opening of a 15,000 sq ft IFC fabrication facility in Singapore.
Launch of the Biomark system for Genetic Analysis, a multi-application hardware/software platform based on Fluidigm Dynamic Array IFCs. Introduction of the Biomark system heralded a practical solution for ultrasensitive detection by PCR. Launch of the 12.765 Digital Array™ IFC to provide absolute counting of target molecules, often within samples as small as a single cell. The Digital Array IFC becomes the method of choice to achieve such quantification, known as digital PCR, which had been impractical for routine use until this product was available.
Launch of high-throughput SNP genotyping on the Biomark system, enabling breakthroughs for the study of genetic variation within large populations. Launch of the Fluidigm 48.48 Dynamic Array IFC, which, for the first time in microfluidics, provided a matrixed architecture that enabled both a high density of experiments (2,304 per IFC) and effective mixing of nanovolume-scale fluids.
Launch of the 96.96 Dynamic Array IFC, capable of performing 9,216 simultaneous real-time PCR experiments in nanoliter quantities. This new generation IFC enabled life science researchers to achieve new levels of cost and logistical efficiency and flexibility, as well as comprehensive profiling from minuscule amounts of sample, down to the scale of individual cells.
Launch of the EP1™ system for genetic analysis. This is the most efficient Fluidigm system for high-sample-throughput SNP genotyping and endpoint digital PCR. It allows extremely low running costs and provides the easiest workflow for low- to mid-multiplex SNP genotyping.
Launch of the 48.770 Digital Array IFC, the highest-density commercially available integrated fluidic circuit to date. This IFC can test up to 48 individual samples at a time and automatically partition each sample into separate sets of 770 reaction chambers, delivering a total of 36,960 simultaneous digital PCR reactions.
Launch of the Access Array™ system, designed to support high-throughput resequencing, targeted enrichment, sample barcoding and library preparation for sequencing using amplicon tagging.
Launch of DVS Sciences CyTOF Single-cell Protein Analysis System, which identifies proteins in individual cells by seeding them with antibodies that have metal labels. It uses elemental mass spectrometry to measure the metal labels, informing the researcher about the protein composition of the cell.
MIT Technology Review magazine selects Fluidigm Corporation as one of the top 50 most innovative companies in the world.
Launch of the reusable FR48.48 Dynamic Array IFC, the world's first reusable biochip device for the SNP genotyping market.
Establishment of DVS Sciences Toronto manufacturing facility.
Launch of the Biomark HD Real-time PCR system, the company's most advanced instrument for genomic analysis. Biomark HD provides the sensitivity and throughput needed to study gene expression down to the single-cell level—especially for researchers who have limited amounts of sample or study rare populations of cells.
Initial public offering of Fluidigm stock. Shares trade on NASDAQ under the symbol "FLDM."
Manufacturing milestone for the Fluidigm Singapore factory: building and shipping more than 1 billion microscopic Nanoflex™ valves since its inception. The cross section of each valve is one-tenth the size of that of a human hair.
Launch of Fluidigm assays and primers optimized for the company's IFC technology. The products are Delta Gene™ assays (for gene expression), SNP Type™ assays (for SNP genotyping) and Access Array™ Target-Specific Primers (for target enrichment for next-generation sequencing).
Launch of the 192.24 Dynamic Array IFC, designed to genotype 192 samples against 24 SNP assays in a single run, providing 4,608 datapoints in just one hour.
Launch of the C1 system, which revolutionizes single-cell research. The C1 enables researchers to rapidly and reliably isolate, phenotype, and process individual cells for genomic analysis. For the first time, single-cell researchers can select single cells, extract RNA, reverse-transcribe, amplify and ultimately quantify gene expression using just one technology. By standardizing and automating these processes, the system eliminates the need for multiple separate instruments, reducing multiplatform-related variability and the risk of operator errors.
Opening of the Fluidigm China office.
Launch by Fluidigm and the Broad Institute of the world's first research center dedicated to accelerating development of research methods and discoveries in mammalian single-cell genomics. The Single-Cell Genomics initiative is a hub for collaboration among single-cell genomics researchers in many pioneering fields, including stem cells and cancer biology.
Launch of the Singapore Single-Cell Omics Centre by Fluidigm and the Genome Institute of Singapore. It is the first Asian research center dedicated exclusively to understanding how individual cells work and how that knowledge might enhance diagnosis and treatment.
Selection of single-cell sequencing as Method of the Year by the publisher of the journal Nature.
Launch of the DVS Sciences CyTOF 2 Single-Cell Protein Analysis System, a multiparameter single-cell protein analysis system that analyzes antibody/metal complexes using atomic mass spectrometry. The technology enables high-parameter single-cell protein analysis for applications in biological research.
Acquisition of DVS Sciences, resulting in creation of a single-cell technology powerhouse. Combined with DVS, Fluidigm offers a comprehensive portfolio of advanced platforms serving the rapidly growing single-cell genomics and proteomics markets.
Launch of the Juno system, an automated sample preparation engine for genetic analysis and library preparation. Its targeted uses include sample identification, quality control and DNA fingerprinting by biobanking and cell culture facilities, as well as integrated on-IFC preamplification and genotyping analysis by ag-genomics customers.
Launch of Helios, a substantially-enhanced CyTOF platform with improved software, user interface, and cell-handling capabilities. The Helios platform delivers an extensive list of features and advances to the core CyTOF technology to bring enhanced performance and convenience of operation.
Launch of Polaris, the first system to integrate cell selection, isolation, dose, culture and molecular preparation into a single workflow, thereby enabling researchers to directly correlate gene expression with environmental conditions and phenotypic information. With this new workflow, researchers can conduct dose response studies on live, single cells.
Launch of Callisto, a fully automated system that integrates multifactorial experiment design with hands-free execution of long-term cell culture. This innovative platform is designed to revolutionize the way cell biologists develop in vitro cell models in a reproducible and precise manner. Launch of the C1 Single-Cell mRNA Seq HT IFC. With over eight-fold higher throughput than the C1 Single-Cell mRNA Seq 96 IFC, the HT IFC is the first commercial product to address large-scale studies to survey cellular heterogeneity.
Selection of Juno as one of the top 25 inventions of the year by Time magazine.