Lab on a chip – from molecular assays to organs on a chip: a symposium by the Royal Society of Chemistry and ETH Zurich

The Lab on a chip – from molecular assays to organs on a chip symposium will be held on 10th April 2018, Basel, Switzerland. 

The Royal Society of Chemistry journal Lab on a Chip and ETH Zurich are delighted to present this symposium, which will showcase the high impact research from the groups of the Lab on a Chip Editorial Board members. The research presented will be on a wide variety of cutting-edge topics in line with the ethos and scope of the journal.

Editor-in-Chief, Abe Lee, Associate Editor, Petra Dittrich and Executive Editor, Sam Keltie warmly invite you to take part in this event and look forward to welcoming you in Basel.

Confirmed speakers

Yoon-Kyoung Cho, UNIST, South Korea

Petra Dittrich, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Xudong Fan, University of Michigan, USA

Piotr Garstecki, Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

Martinus Gijs, EPFL, Switzerland

Abraham Lee, University of California, Irvine, USA

Hang Lu, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Jianhua Qin, Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, China

Manabu Tokeshi, Hokkaido University, Japan

Aaron Wheeler, University of Toronto, Canada

Roland Zengerle, Hahn-Schickard, Germany

Aims

The symposium will bring together exceptional researchers – all leading names in their field – for an outstanding plenary programme, together with an open lunch for all attendees that will provide many networking opportunities.

Registration

Registration for the event is required, as we have limited spaces at the venue. Registration costs are students & graduate students 20 CHF, postdocs & group leaders: 40 CHF, industry 80 CHF. Book now

Venue

Hotel Bildungszentrum 21, Missionsstr. 21, CH – 4055 Basel, Switzerland

Contact Information

Dr Sam Keltie

Executive Editor, Lab on a Chip

Royal Society of Chemistry

loc-rsc@rsc.org

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Manabu Tokeshi – Our new Associate Editor

We are delighted to announce our new Associate Editor – Manabu Tokeshi!

“I am excited to join the editorial team of Lab on a Chip, my favorite Journal ever since its inception.  I am looking forward to seeing your excellent research in this Journal.”

Manabu Tokeshi is a Professor at the Division of Applied Chemistry at Hokkaido University, Japan and a visiting Professor at the ImPACT Research Center for Advanced Nanobiodevice, Innovative Research Center for Preventive Medical Engineering, and Institute of Innovation for Future Society at Nagoya University.

He received his PhD degree from Kyushu University, Japan. After a research fellowship of the Japan Society of Promotion of Science at The University of Tokyo, he worked at Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology as a researcher, group subleader and group leader. Before joining Hokkaido University as Professor in 2011, Manabu worked at the Institute of Microchemistry Technology Co. Ltd. as President and at Nagoya University as an Associate Professor.

Professor Tokeshi is a board member of the Chemical & Biological Microsystem Society (CBMS) which oversees the International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemical and Life Sciences (mTAS). He has received various awards for his work, including the Outstanding Researcher Award on Chemistry and Micro-Nano Systems from the Society for Chemistry and Micro-Nano Systems (2007), the Lab on a Chip/Corning Inc Pioneers in Miniaturization Lectureship (2007) and the Masao Horiba Award from HORIBA, Ltd. (2011).

His research interests are in the development of micro- and nano-systems for chemical, biochemical, and clinical applications. You can find out more about Manabu’s research on his homepage.

Manabu will be handling papers from 1st January 2017, so submit your best work to him!

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Lab on a Chip introduces optional authorship contributions to increase transparency

Lab on a Chip is introducing recommended authorship contributions in all its published articles from February 2018.

Including a description of author contributions increases transparency of who contributed what to the article and ensures that each author is given the appropriate level of credit (and responsibility) for their contribution. Inclusion of author contributions is already common practice in many biomedical/life sciences journals.

Authors are strongly encouraged to include with their submitted manuscript a section with “Author Contributions”, which will be published with the final article. Contributions should be explained concisely. Authors are strongly encouraged to use the CRediT taxonomy to describe those contributions (see terms below). Authors should have agreed to their individual contributions ahead of submission and should accurately reflect contributions to the work. Please note that for any manuscript with more than 10 co-authors, the corresponding author must provide the editor with a statement to specify the contribution of each author.

CRediT (Contributor Role Taxonomy) is a taxonomy tool by CASRAI (Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration) and it was developed to increase transparency in contributions by researchers to scholarly publications. More information about CRediT can we found on the CASRAI website.

CRediT terms

Contributor Role Role Definition
Conceptualization Ideas; formulation or evolution of overarching research goals and aims.
Methodology Development or design of methodology; creation of models.
Software Programming, software development; designing computer programs; implementation of the computer code and supporting algorithms; testing of existing code components.
Validation Verification, whether as a part of the activity or separate, of the overall replication/reproducibility of results/experiments and other research outputs.
Formal Analysis Application of statistical, mathematical, computational, or other formal techniques to analyze or synthesize study data.
Investigation Conducting a research and investigation process, specifically performing the experiments, or data/evidence collection.
Resources Provision of study materials, reagents, materials, patients, laboratory samples, animals, instrumentation, computing resources, or other analysis tools.
Data Curation Management activities to annotate (produce metadata), scrub data and maintain research data (including software code, where it is necessary for interpreting the data itself) for initial use and later reuse.
Writing – Original Draft Preparation Creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically writing the initial draft (including substantive translation).
Writing – Review & Editing Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work by those from the original research group, specifically critical review, commentary or revision – including pre- or post-publication stages.
Visualization Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically visualization/data presentation.
Supervision Oversight and leadership responsibility for the research activity planning and execution, including mentorship external to the core team.
Project Administration Management and coordination responsibility for the research activity planning and execution.
Funding Acquisition Acquisition of the financial support for the project leading to this publication.

 

Any questions regarding “Author Contributions” should be directed to the Lab on a Chip Editorial Office.

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“Cutting edge” technology for cell biology in tape-based devices

Sticker-like devices enable quick, rapid prototyping for cell culture experiments

Xurography, or razor-printing, is a low-cost and accessible method for fabricating microfluidic devices. By using a computer controlled razor cutter, sheets of material can be cut precisely to a design. Using adhesive materials, the cut patterns can be used like stickers, and microfluidic devices can then be made by stacking and layering the stickers to create three-dimensional structures. While razor-cut devices might not have the same resolution as soft lithography (150 μm vs. 10-30 μm), their ease of fabrication and rapid turnaround time makes the method very user-friendly and great for rapid prototyping. It is precisely for their ease of use that Jay Warrick (U. Wisconsin) and Maribella Domenech (U. Puerto Rico at Mayagüez) wanted to work with razor-cut microfluidics.

Having access to a very easy fabrication method became a necessity for Domenech. After an electrical fire destroyed her lab and soft lithography equipment in 2016, Domenech was looking for an easy way continue her research while waiting for renovations to be completed. Since she works primarily with undergraduate research students, she needed a fabrication method with a gentle learning curve. “Lithography methods are too difficult to be mastered  within a couple of weeks, but razor-cut devices are easy for anyone to fabricate and use,” says Domenech.

As easy and accessible as any method may be, it won’t gain widespread adoption by a community unless it’s trusted. For biologists, this means trusting that the material is biocompatible and won’t interfere with their experiments. In their recent report, Domenech and Warrick address this challenge and do a service to the community by thoroughly characterizing ARcare 90106, a double-sided adhesive tape for xurography. The tape was compared to polystyrene and PDMS devices, the bread and butter materials of cell biology and microfluidics, respectively. The tape showed good performance across a variety of metrics of cell growth and with a range of cell types. Further, it compared favorably to PDMS in terms of absorption of lipophilic molecules, which means it is less likely to interfere with co-culture experiments where the diffusion of extracellular molecules (e.g., hormones, cytokines, growth factors etc.) is very important.

Easy-made tape-based biocompatible devices open up new opportunities for cell biology. “It’s quite enabling to be able to adhere these devices to so many different types of surfaces,” says Warrick. And because the tape is flexible, it can stick on curved surfaces as well as flat. It also opens up opportunities to integrate new materials with microfluidic devices. Warrick says he’s “often looked at different materials and wished there was an easy way to integrate them. Tape solves this.” In terms of new materials, the team demonstrated the integration of sheets of electrospun collagen within razor-cut microfluidic devices, and co-lead author Yasmín Álvarez-García is currently investigating what other materials could be incorporated. She hopes to expand the current work to include more cell types, perform cell migration studies, and expand the usability of the technique. This will further increase the trustworthiness of the tape’s biocompatibility and lower the barriers for more biologist to get into microfluidics.

To read the full paper for free*, click the link below:

Razor-printed sticker microdevices for cell-based applications

DOI: 10.1039/c7lc00724h (Paper), Lab on a Chip, 2018, 18, 451

__________________

About the Webwriters

Darius Rackus (Right) is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto working in the Wheeler Lab. His research interests are in combining sensors with digital microfluidics for healthcare applications.

 

*free access until 28th February 2018

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Lego bricks: A quick and cheap way to build microfluidic prototypes

Written for Chemistry World 

Scientists in the US have discovered that Lego bricks can be an effective way of constructing modular microfluidic systems.

Crystal Owens and John Hart from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used a desktop micromilling machine to drill channels as small as 150μm wide into the Lego bricks. Each brick was designed to perform one or more functions such as mixing, droplet generation, sorting and sensing.

“Making the system modular is a natural choice, because a system can be built piece-by-piece without knowing the final design, and easily changed,” says Owens.

 

Read the full article and watch the video clip in Chemistry World.

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EMBL Microfluidics 2018 Conference

EMBL Microfuidics 2018 Conference will be held at EMBL Heidelberg, Germany between 15th-17th July 2018

“The EMBL Microfluidics Conference 2018 aims to bring together top researchers in the field and to spark scientific exchange, also across different disciplines. The latest Lab-on-a-Chip technologies and applications will be presented, which should be of major interest for experts as well as scientists looking for a first glance at this exciting new technology.”

Over the past years microfluidic approaches have been used for a variety of applications, including nucleotide sequencing, functional genomics, single-cell/single-molecule studies and diagnostics. Many of these applications, including next-generation sequencing devices, have been revolutionised by miniaturisation, paving the way for global gene analysis and hence transforming biology. Small objects such as cells, or even discrete parts thereof, can be exposed to unique conditions, facilitating entirely novel approaches in modern biology and chemistry.

Confirmed speakers include Lab on a Chip Associate Editors Petra Dittrich (ETH Zurich) and Hang Lu (Georgia Institute of Technology), Lab on a Chip Editorial Board member Piotr Garstecki (Polish Academy of Sciences) and Lab on a Chip Advisory Board members Amy E. Herr (UC Berkeley) and Dave Weitz (Harvard University).

LOCATION & DATES 

EMBL Heidelberg, Germany 15 – 17 Jul 2018

DEADLINES:

 Registration – 4 Jun 2018 

Abstract – 23 Apr 2018

Lab on a Chip  Editor-in-Chief, Abe Lee will be chairing a session during the conference and Deputy Editor, Maria Southall will also be attending the conference.

For further information on the conference, please visit the main website. To register, please click here.

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Why should we use optofluidics for monitoring marine environment?

Phosphorus is found in natural waters and exerts a major influence on the composition and structure of aquatic ecosystems. It is a crucial nutrient for planktons and algae, which feed fish and other marine organisms. However, human activities may result in excess amount of phosphorus, which, in turn, causes harmful algae to bloom in natural waters. The bloom creates a hostile environment to other forms of marine life by consuming the available oxygen in the sea, and producing toxins. Sea organisms such as fish swim away from the blooms, but the ones that cannot swim, such as shellfish, unfortunately die. We do care about this occurrence as it negatively affects natural life and the economy. There is only one way to interpret the effect of continuously changing phosphorus levels on the strength of the biological pump: real-time monitoring of phosphate levels in the marine environment!

Figure 1. The design of the Fabry-Pérot microcavity, consisting of two parallel mirrors (reflectors) fabricated by coating the surface of the optical fibers with a gold layer. The light is reflected by the mirrors multiple times to enhance the signal. Adapted from Zhu et al., 2017.

Conventional vs. optofluidic monitoring instruments

Conventional phosphate monitoring instruments are mostly used for on-site sampling, then the fresh sample is transported to a laboratory for determining the phosphate level. Laboratories complete one round of analysis in 20 min, often using spectrophotometrical measurement tools. Given the conditions, real-time phosphate monitoring easily becomes laborious, time consuming, and costly. To address this challenge, researchers in Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan University, and The First Institute of Oceanography in China collaborated to develop a portable optofluidic phosphate monitoring tool. However, prototyping an optofluidic marine phosphate detection tool is not straightforward because an absorption cell—a component core to the measurement unit—is simply too big to fit in a microchip. Instead of using a bulky absorption cell, researchers considered integrating a Fabry-Pérot cavity in the microsystem. The Fabry-Pérot cavity consists of two parallel optical fibers with a spacing in between. The cross-sectional surface of each optical fiber is coated with a thin layer of gold to create reflector surfaces (Figure 1) in order to enhance the absorption of phosphate. Shortening the spacing between the reflectors decreases the analysis time from minutes to seconds.

 

How it works?

In the microchip, filtered water sample and a chromogenic reagent are injected into a curved microchannel. After the chromogenic reaction, the water-soluble components are transported into the optical section (Figure 2). The probe light is sent into the Fabry-Pérot cavity via one of the fibers, bounces between the reflectors multiple times to increase the optical feedback and then analyzed by the detector. The obtained absorbance value, therefore, increases linearly with increasing phosphate concentration. In this microsystem, phosphate detection range is 0.1-100 µmol per liter (400 times greater than the range of a conventional instrument) and detection time is 4 seconds (300 times shorter than detection time of a conventional instrument). The authors of the paper think that this technology can be applied to detect other nutrient levels as well as pH changes in marine environment.

 

optofluidic phosphate monitoring

Figure 2. A schematic of the optofluidic microchip consisting of two parts: the microfluidics circuit forming the microreactor in the microchannel, and the optical part to provide optical feedback for enhanced absorption analysis. Adapted from Zhu et al., 2017.

To download the full article for free* click the link below:

 

Optofluidic marine phosphate detection with enhanced absorption using a Fabry–Pérot resonator

M. Zhu, Y. Shi, X. Q. Zhu, Y. Yang, F. H. Jiang, C. J. Sun, W. H. Zhaoc, and X. T. Hanc

Lab Chip, 2017, Lab on a Chip Recent Hot Articles

DOI: 10.1039/C7LC01016H

 

About the Webwriter

Burcu Gumuscu is a postdoctoral fellow in Herr Lab at UC Berkeley in the United States. Her research interests include development of microfluidic devices for quantitative analysis of proteins from single-cells, next generation sequencing, compartmentalized organ-on-chip studies, and desalination of water on the microscale.

*until 16th February 2018

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SLAS 2018

 

SLAS will host SLAS2018, the seventh Annual International SLAS International Conference and Exhibition, in San Diego, California, from Feb. 3-7, 2018.

 

Through a unique combination of education, access to innovative technologies and intelligent peer networking, SLAS2018 delivers unmatched value for professionals and students looking to discover the latest life sciences technologies and how they can be applied to drive research objectives. SLAS 2018 invites research scientists, engineers, academics and business leaders to submit abstracts for presentation.

SLAS is a global community of more than 20,000 life sciences professionals—from academia, government and industry—collectively focused on leveraging the power of technology to achieve scientific objectives. Showcase your research on this global stage by presenting at SLAS2018

 

Key deadlines:

18th December: Early-Bird Registration Discount

Monday, January 22, 2018 (Final Poster Abstract Submission Deadline)

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Emerging Investigator Series – Ashleigh Theberge

We are delighted to introduce our latest Lab on a Chip Emerging Investigator, Ashleigh Theberge!

Ashleigh Theberge is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Washington and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Urology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She received her BA in Chemistry at Williams College and her PhD in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, UK with Wilhelm Huck. During her graduate work, she was a Visiting Scientist with Andrew Griffiths at the Université de Strasbourg, France. Her graduate research focused on droplet-based microfluidics for chemical synthesis and analysis. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in Biomedical Engineering and Urology with David Beebe, William Ricke, and Wade Bushman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2014, she was awarded an NIH K Career Development Award from the NIDDK in Urology. She joined the faculty at the University of Washington in 2016. Her group develops new microscale culture and analysis methods to study cell-cell, cell-extracellular matrix, and host-microbe interactions, with a focus on inflammation in urologic diseases and asthma.

Read Ashleigh’s Emerging Investigator series paper “Upgrading well plates using open microfluidic patterning” and find out more about her in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on upgrading well plates using microfluidic patterning. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article? 

My research has changed dramatically since my first article, which focused on chemical synthesis in droplet-based microfluidics. The common thread in both articles is manipulation of fluids on the microscale, but almost everything else is different! While my graduate work focused on chemical applications of microfluidics in conventional closed microfluidic channels, I now work on methods for studying cell signaling in biological systems using primarily open microfluidic channels. For example in this most recent article, the “walls” of the “channel” are comprised of the floor of the well plate, a plastic insert, and two free air-liquid interfaces.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

I am excited about our group’s fundamental work advancing fluid manipulation in open microfluidics using capillary flow. On the applications side, I am excited to be exploring signaling in ever-more complex cellular systems, including “multikingdom” systems where we study the chemical signals exchanged between host and microbe. I am also happy to work with a fantastic group of students who are taking our group in new directions both biologically and technologically.

In your opinion, what is the biggest advantage of the presented patterning device over the current systems?

Our method enables biologists to easily “upgrade” any existing assay developed in conventional well plates to a co- or multiculture assay. Well plates are the most common cultureware used for cell-based assays, and our device is a simple plastic insert that fits within the well and enables the user to pipette hydrogels (such as collagen, Matrigel, or synthetic gels) to make biocompatible partitions that enable segregated cell culture and maintain soluble factor signaling through the gel wall. Our device enables biologists to use a familiar off-the-shelf platform (well plates) and culture cells on surfaces that have been optimized by decades of industry experience with tissue culture treated surfaces. Since our device uses “open microfluidics,” it does not require bonding of multiple layers and can be fabricated in a single step via injection molding to scale up production.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

A challenge is the interdisciplinary of our work; but this is also what I love about it. Much of our work involves new methods to isolate and study chemical signals from complex cultures – falling under the category of analytical chemistry or bioengineering. But we also focus heavily on disease mechanisms, delving deeply into biology, and our work in the fundamentals of open microfluidics is at the interface of physics and chemistry. Our work also touches on applied aspects of microscale device fabrication, traditionally falling under mechanical engineering, such as our recent paper in press at Lab on a Chip entitled “Fundamentals of rapid injection molding for microfluidic cell-based assays.”

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

I regularly attend microTAS and the Gordon Research Conference on Microfluidics. I also plan to attend the IEEE EMBS Micro and Nanoengineering in Medicine Conference and biological conferences related to our group’s focus areas (microbiome, urologic research, etc.).

How do you spend your spare time?

I try to spend spare time outdoors and enjoy sailing, open water swimming, and climbing. I also like to travel – both to explore different cultures and also wilderness such as the Yukon Territory, Patagonia, and national forest land nearby in Washington.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

I would enjoy having a leadership role in a company or organization. I like brainstorming ideas to develop a vision for large projects and working in teams toward a common goal – be it a product, a discovery, or a process. I decided to be a scientist because the scientific method provides an opportunity to rigorously explore questions, but there are many complex problems outside of science that require exciting new strategies and the cohesive effort of many minds to solve.

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

One strategy that has been helpful for me is to be persistent in looking for opportunities to support projects that I care about. As an undergraduate researcher, I designed my own project that required augmenting our department’s gas chromatograph. I was able to secure the funds by talking with different offices on campus (dean’s office initiatives, student project grants, etc.); I was turned down many times but even those experiences helped me to refine my explanation of the project to have a more compelling conversation with the next person I approached. As an undergraduate summer intern working for Merck, my department did not have funds to send me to a conference to present my work, so I asked the human resources department to fund my trip as a way to promote the intern program as well as present my science; they agreed. In graduate school, I set up an international collaboration in order to develop the expertise required to pursue a multidisciplinary project that I had designed. So for early career scientists, I think it is key to remember that there are many opportunities (even if they are not always obvious at first), and facing road blocks or being turned down several times doesn’t preclude a successful outcome.

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MMB 2018

The 9th International Conference on Microtechnologies in Medicine and Biology (MMB 2018) is being held in California, USA on March 26-28, 2018

The primary purpose of the conference is to foster interactions between biologists and medical researchers; chemists, physicists and engineers to enhance and strengthen the potential of microtechnologies in revolutionizing the fields of medicine and biological sciences through the development of new research tools and technologies.

The conference is set to have a great talks, with Keynote lectures from Seok “Sid” Chung, Korea University; Jianping Fu, University of Michigan; Amy Herr, University of California, Berkeley; Henry Hess, Columbia University; Marianna Kruithof-de Julio, University of Bern; and Milica Radisic, University of Toronto.

Key Dates:

Late News deadline: 6th February 2018

Early Bird Registration: 13th February 2018

Regular Registration: 21st March 2018

 

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