Pioneers of Miniaturization Lectureship 2018

Lab on a Chip and Dolomite are proud to sponsor the thirteenth Pioneers of Miniaturization Lectureship, to honour and support the up and coming, next generation of scientists who have significantly contributed to the understanding or development of miniaturised systems. This year’s Lectureship will be presented at the µTAS 2018 Conference in Kaohsiung, Taiwan with the recipient receiving a prize of US$2,000.

Who should you nominate?

Early to mid-career scientists (maximum 15 years post completion of PhD).

Scientists who have demonstrated outstanding contributions to the understanding or development of miniaturised systems.

How do you nominate?

Submit your nominations to Lab on a Chip Editor Sam Keltie at LOC-RSC@rsc.org

Nominations should include:

  • Full contact and affiliation details of the person making the nomination.
  • A letter of nomination with the candidate’s accomplishments and why the lectureship is deserved. (The nominee must be aware that he/she has been nominated for this lectureship.)
  • A list of the candidate’s relevant publications or recent work (all work should be original).
  • Candidate’s scientific CV stating PhD completion date; address; and full contact details.

Nomination Deadline: 30 June 2018

Who has won the Pioneers of Miniaturization Lectureship in the past?

  • 2017: Professor Aaron Wheeler, University of Toronto, Canada
  • 2016: Professor Daniel Irimia, Massachusetts General Hospital, USA
  • 2015: Professor Dino Di Carlo, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2014: Professor Sangeeta N. Bhatia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • 2013: Professor Shuichi Takayama, University of Michigan, USA
  • 2012: Professor Andrew deMello, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2011: Professor Ali Khademhosseini, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • 2010: Professor Stephen Quake, Stanford University, USA
  • 2009: Professor Abe Lee, University of California, Irvine, USA
  • 2008: Dr Patrick Doyle, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • 2007: Dr Manabu Tokeshi, Nagoya University, Japan
  • 2006: Dr David Beebe, University of Wisconsin, USA

Terms and Conditions

The Lectureship consists of the following elements:

  • A prize of US$2,000. No other financial contribution will be offered
  • A certificate recognising the winner of the lectureship
  • The awardee is required to give a short lecture at the 2018 µTAS Conference

The award is for early to mid-career scientists (maximum 15 years post completion of PhD). Appropriate consideration will be given to those who have taken a career break or followed a different study path.

The award is for outstanding contributions to the understanding or development of miniaturised systems. This will be judged mainly through their top 1-3 papers and/or an invention documented by patents/or a commercial product. Awards and honorary memberships may also be considered.

The winner will be expected to submit at least two significant publications to Lab on a Chip in the 12 months after the lectureship is awarded.

Nominations from students and self-nominations are not permissible.

The decision on the winner of the lectureship will be made by a panel of judges coordinated by the Editor, and this decision will be final.


Sponsors

Dolomite

Dolomite, part of the Blacktrace group, is the world leader in the design and manufacture of microfluidic products. Our systems are flexible and modular, allowing users to execute a wide range of applications in biology, chemistry, drug discovery, food, cosmetics, and academia. With expertise on hand, we can talk to you about your needs to ensure you find the right system for you and your research.

Lab on a Chip

Lab on a Chip provides a unique forum for the publication of significant and original work related to miniaturisation, at the micro- and nano-scale, of interest to a multidisciplinary readership. The journal seeks to publish work at the interface between physical technological advancements and high impact applications that are of direct interest to a broad audience.

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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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Emerging Investigator Series – Rebecca Pompano

We are delighted to introduce our latest Lab on a Chip Emerging Investigator, Rebecca Pompano.

Dr. Rebecca Pompano is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia, and a member of the Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology Research.  She completed a BS in Chemistry at the University of Richmond in 2005, and a PhD in 2011 at the University of Chicago, working in the laboratory of Dr. Rustem Ismagilov.  She completed a postdoc in the University of Chicago Department of Surgery, leading a collaboration between Dr. Joel Collier, a tissue engineer, and Dr. Anita Chong, an immunologist.  Since 2014, she has been a faculty member at UVA, where her research interests center on developing microfluidic and chemical assays to unravel the complexity of the immune response.  She received an Individual Biomedical Research Award from The Hartwell Foundation and the national 2016 Starter Grant Award from the Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh.  Recently, her lab was awarded an NIH R01 to develop hybrids of microfluidics and lymph node tissue to study inflammation.  In addition to her research, she is active in advocating for continued funding for education and biomedical research on Capitol Hill.

Read her Emerging Investigator Series article “User-defined local stimulation of live tissue through a movable microfluidic port” and find out more about her in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on stimulation of live tissue through a movable microfluidic port. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

My current research combines some seemingly disparate themes from my prior work.  My first article in graduate school used droplet microfluidics to study blood clotting, and I became fascinated with how spatial organization affects the function of complex biological systems. Later, I also worked on the physics of fluid flow in a reconfigurable SlipChip device… and both of these ideas make a comeback in this current paper!  Then in my postdoc, I had the fabulous opportunity to work in both a bioengineering lab and an immunology lab, studying the mechanism of action of a new non-inflammatory vaccine. The research in my lab now is really at the intersection of bioanalytical chemistry, bioengineering, and immunology.  We develop new tools to study the immune system and how it is organized. This particular paper offers a new technology to pick and choose where to deliver a drug or stimulant to a piece of live tissue, and we demonstrated it for lymph nodes, our favorite immune organ.

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

I am very excited about the ideas we are pursuing, specifically that our tools to control and detect how tissue is organized might prove useful for other researchers.  As a chemist by training, I’m thrilled to collaborate with creative bioengineers and immunologists like Jennifer Munson (Virginia Tech) and Melanie Rutkowski (U Virginia) to work on inflammatory diseases and tumor immunology.  Seeing our chips at work in their labs is very rewarding.

In your opinion, what is the biggest advantage of using local stimulation over global stimulation for measuring tissue responses?

Local stimulation, by which I mean delivering fluid or a drug to one region of tissue, rather than bathing the entire sample in media, gives you the chance to ask unique questions about spatial organization.  For example, I envision using this microfluidic technique to determine whether a drug is more effective when delivered to one area of tissue than another, and then developing a nanoparticle that targets just the right region.  It can also be used to mimic local biological events, like diffusion of signals from a blood vessel, to determine how inflammation initiates and propagates through live tissue.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Studying the immune system – its complexity is what I love about it, but it is challenging when the cells and tissue do exactly the opposite of what you expected!  This happens over and over when we ask a real biological question. I suppose it shows how much there is still to learn, and why new tools are so desperately needed to predict and control immunity.

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

I’m looking forward to MicroTAS in Taiwan this year. I also bounce around between Pittcon (analytical chemistry), the Society for Biomaterials annual meeting, and the annual AAI Immunology conference.  This fall I’ll be attending the BMES annual meeting (Biomedical Engineering Society) for the first time!  There is not yet a focused conference for immunoanalysis and immunoengineering, but I’m hoping one will form soon.

How do you spend your spare time?

A few years ago I would have said knitting… I had a great group of friends in graduate school who would get together to knit every week.  I still wear those socks and sweaters!  Now though, my husband Drew and I spend most of our free time playing together with our 2-year old, Jasper.  Sometimes I also go to Drew’s gigs to be a rock star’s spouse instead of a chemistry professor for a while.  He’s a bassist in several great bands in Charlottesville (check a few of them out – Pale Blue Dot and 7th Grade Girl Fight).

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

I almost went into science policy instead of academia. I seriously entertained the idea of working at USAID helping promote vaccines internationally, or working in a think tank to help guide health-related policies.  I’m still very passionate about the need for scientists to inform the public and our elected officials about the science underlying issues like health, education, and care of the environment.

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

A former mentor recommended me the book, Ask For It, by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, and it completely changed how I operate.  I think many early career scientists could benefit from this book, which is about overcoming self-doubt to ask for what you really need. Although ostensibly written for women, in science I see so many men and women who could achieve something great with just a little confidence booster.

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Microparticles: Good things come in small packages

Microparticles were first described in 1967 by Peter Wolf, a physician, as ‘minute particulate materials’ when he investigated the platelet activity in human plasma. They were initially used as drug delivery agents because their size is as small as pollens, which can easily go into the human body. Not long after the great promise of microparticles has been realized, and today we use microparticles in numerous applications including pharmaceuticals, biomedicine, bioengineering, cosmetics, printing, and food science. The widespread use is not a coincidence, they can be synthesized from a multitude of materials, i.e. metal, polymer, gel etc. Especially, polymer microparticles, conferring a great versatility in size, shape, and chemistry, gained more attention in industry. Just like their usage areas, fabrication techniques of microparticles vary a lot. Polymer microparticle production is typically done in two ways, first microfluidics-assisted techniques including droplet-based fabrication, flow-lithography-based fabrication, and microjetting; second other techniques including centrifugation, electrohydrodynamics, and molding. With a focus on microfluidics-assisted techniques, we bring a few remarkable and commercialized studies on high throughput production of spherical-shaped and irregular-shaped microparticles to your attention.

Spherical microparticles

Particle monodispersity has to be compromised for high-througput production when using coaxial microfluidic devices, and both features are highly desired in medical applications and industry. Luckily, as a droplet-based fabrication technique, high-throughput step emulsification of microparticles addresses this fundamental problem. David Weitz’s research group at Harvard University has recently reported a droplet generator microchip with 135 step-emulsifier nozzles that produce monodisperse emulsions of polymers at an exceptional throughput of 10K mL/h (Figure 1a).1 This means, monodisperse microparticle production with this device is thousands times higher than a typical droplet generator microchip with one droplet maker and a throughput of 10 mL/h. The chip is made of PDMS, which is a flexible and inexpensive material. Monodispersity  at high flow rates is maintained using microchannels connected through an array of parallelized nozzles (Figure 1b). Microparticles are formed at the step between each nozzle and the continuous-phase channel. The formation can be explained by the Laplace pressure difference developing between the nozzle and the symmetric polymer bulb, resulting in suction of the dispersed phase into the bulb. The growing polymer bulb increases the pressure gradient and a neck forms between the nozzle and the bulb due to depletion of dispersed phase, resulting in release of a droplet. This geometry can produce spherical-shaped microparticles. The production efficiency scales linearly with droplet diameter (Figure 1c). Weitz demonstrated the production of oil microcapsules in water with the envision of standardizing the process by converting the emulsifier into a pipettor tip. Such a technology can replace the existing pipettor technology tools including multi-well and robots, and this replacement can serve for parallelizing and automation of the encapsulation chemi- and bio-assays. This technology has recently been introduced to the market by a Switzerland-based startup company called Microcaps.

As an alternative concept, in-air microfluidics is based on the idea of producing droplets at higher flow rates without using microfluidic channels. In the research groups of Detlef Lohse and Marcel Karperien at University of Twente, microparticles were generated using two nozzles, and one of the nozzles is mounted on a vibrating piezoelectric element (Figure 1d). The breakup of the liquid jet ejected from the first nozzle leads to formation of monodisperse droplets, which hit onto a continuous liquid jet ejected from the second nozzle. After passing ‘the meeting point’, both liquids react with each other to form physically-encapsulated microparticles. This technique provides with hundreds to thousands times faster microparticle production when compared to coaxial microchip setups. Such constructs can be especially beneficial in tissue engineering, where rapid fabrication of multi-scale materials with multiple cell types is an ongoing challenge. This technology has recently been introduced to the market by a Dutch startup company called IamFluidics.

Figure 1. Up-scaled step-emulsification device producing monodisperse droplets. (a) A schematic of the entire microfluidic chip actively producing oil-in-water droplets. (b) The emulsification process. (c) Maximum production rates per nozzle plotted against drop diameter, scale bars are 400 µm.The image is modified from Stolovicki et al. (see the references below). (d) Chip-based microfluidics comparison with in-air microfluidics.

Irregular-shaped microparticles

Another microfluidics-assisted fabrication concept is stop-flow lithography, introduced by Patrick Doyle’s research group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.2 In this concept, while two (or more) streams of monomers flow side by side through a microchannel made of PFPE coated PDMS, the streams are exposed to intermittent illumination of ultraviolet light through a photomask, which blocks the light selectively. Due to the chemical reaction initiated by ultraviolet light, the liquid solidifies, and forms an individual microparticle (Figure 2a). Upon polymerization, gel particles do not stick to the PFPE microchannel walls, allowing for the production of free-floating particles by the virtue of oxygen lubrication layers. As the ultraviolet light is projected onto the stream through the photomask, each particle takes on the shape of the mask, making the microparticles customizable (Figure 2b). Microparticles composed of multiple monomers can be fabricated by combining multiple monomer streams. The single-step production is advantageous to reduce the production costs, however the particle shape is limited by the photomask and the microchannel geometry – not allowing for generation of spherical-shaped particles. For a proof-of-concept demonstration, upconverting nanocrystal laden-microparticles were synthesized and emitted homogenous visible spectrum of light. The technique allows for synthesis of striped microparticles without losing their homogeneous emission property. The microparticles were also encoded with multiple dot-patterns (Figure 2c), each specific to a target molecule (such as DNA) reacting with the other ingredients in the particle. Such a reaction leads to the formation of a fluorescent color in the microparticle, so the reaction can be traced by microscopy. This technology has been introduced to the market by Firefly Bioworks (acquired by Abcam in 2015), and Motif Micro (acquired by YPB Systems in 2018) startup companies.

microparticles

Figure 2. Stop Flow Lithography concept. (a) A schematic demonstration the coaxial microchip. (b) Bright-field and fluorescent images show triangle-shaped particles (c) A mask with an array of barcode particle shapes was aligned on three phase laminar flows in the microchip. Bright-field and fluorescent images show the barcoded particles with three distinct compartments with a region coding “2013”. The image is modified from Bong et al. (see the references below).

To download the full articles click the links below:

1Throughput enhancement of parallel step emulsifier devices by shear-free and efficient nozzle clearance
Elad Stolovicki, Roy Ziblat, and David A. Weitz
Lab Chip, 2018.
DOI: 10.1039/C7LC01037K

2Stop flow lithography in perfluoropolyether (PFPE) microfluidic channels
W. Bong, J. Lee, and P. S. Doyle
Lab Chip, 2014.
DOI: 10.1039/C4LC00877D

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 single-cell analysis, next generation sequencing, compartmentalized organ-on-chip studies, and desalination of water on the microscale.

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Roll-to-roll PDMS-chips for the masses in molecular diagnostics

PDMS microfluidic devices for molecular diagnostics are now produced at scale using roll-to-roll manufacturing

If there is one material that has enabled microfluidic research in academia, poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) is surely it. PDMS is cheap and easy to prototype with, and its elastomeric properties have led to complicated structures (e.g. valving) in microfluidic channels. Although it is great for rapid prototyping, there is often a disconnect between the prototype and high throughput manufacturing due to a lack of scalable production methods. Researchers at VTT-Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of California Berkeley have recently reported a roll-to-roll method for fabricating PDMS microfluidic chips.

In roll-to-roll (R2R) processing—common to the paper industry—long sheets of materials are continuously processed, feeding through rollers and modules with different functionalities. To form R2R microfluidic devices, PDMS was applied to an aluminized paper substrate and then embossed by a heated nickel imprinting cylinder which also cured the PDMS. The devices had good reproducibility and channel depths around 100 µm were achieved. Replication from the nickel master was automated and performed at high throughput of 1.5 m/min. Olli-Heikki Huttunen, one of the authors on the paper, said that “although the process required a lot of fine tuning, it was surprisingly simple.” Like other high-throughput manufacturing techniques (e.g. injection moulding), the nickel tool is quite expensive, but these costs can be overcome by the volume of production.

As a proof-of-principle application, the authors demonstrated nucleic acid detection by loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). Reagents were spotted and dried in the microchannels using a roll-to-roll compatible dispensing machine, and PDMS lids with vias for fluidic and vacuum connections were formed by a roll-to-roll process (though vias were manually punched) and then bonded manually. Huttunen said that the next steps are to figure out how to manufacture the entire device roll-to-roll, but that it should not be too challenging.

Using aluminized paper as the base substrate for the devices offered a couple advantages. One is that the aluminium dramatically reduced the paper’s autofluorescence. Another advantage was the aluminum reflected back both excitation and emission light, resulting in stronger signals. Results from the test could be read within 20 minutes, suggesting that these devices would be useful for low-cost point-of-care testing.

The challenge for the future, says corresponding author Luke Lee, will be “to learn what the new rules of thinking and design are for roll-to-roll microfluidics in order to solve the problem of mass production in integrated molecular diagnostics for all.” This is an exciting new prospect for both PDMS and the microfluidics community.

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

PDMS microfluidic devices for molecular diagnostics are now produced at scale using roll-to-roll manufacturing

*article free to read from 06/06/2018 – 06/07/2018

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.

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2018 Joint Ontario-on-a-Chip and Training Program in Organ-on-a-Chip Engineering & Entrepreneurship (TOeP) Symposium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This May, the University of Toronto hosted the 13th annual Ontario-on-a-Chip (OOAC) symposium in conjunction with the Training Program in Organ-on-a-Chip Engineering & Entrepreneurship (TOeP) annual research day. This two-day event has a tradition of bringing together the local microfluidics community as well as an exceptional programme of keynote and invited speakers. One highlight of this year’s program included the keynote lecture from Howard Stone (Princeton) at the start of the event. Dr. Stone gave a fascinating talk describing his group’s work trying to understand bacterial motility in flow environments as well as the use of diffusiophoresis—generating electric fields through liquid junction potentials—to separate particles in flow, and this generated a lot of discussion over the two days. Two great overviews of emerging topics were also given: Sabeth Verpoorte (U. Groningen) provided an engaging perspective on the journey from cells in microchannels to organ-on-a-chip technology, and Dan Huh (U. Penn.) spoke on his lab’s efforts to develop various complex organs-on-a-chip, including a blinking eye. In the same vein, Ravi Selvaganapathy (McMaster U.) shared his work on developing tools and materials for low-cost bioprinting.

Lab-on-a-Chip first place poster award presented to Jae Bem You (left) by Edmond Young (right)

 

In addition to a great program of keynote and invited speakers, student presentations and posters are at the core of the symposium. This year, Jae Bem You (Sinton Lab, U. Toronto) won the Lab on a Chip sponsored Top Poster Prize for his poster on isolation and immobilization of single sperm cells for motility and genetic analysis. The symposium was organized by Edmond Young (U. Toronto), Scott Tsai (Ryerson) and Milica Radisic (U. Toronto). The organizers are grateful to Lab on a Chip for their support, and look forward to bringing the microfluidics community together again next year!

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.

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NEMB NanoEngineering for Medicine and Biology Conference 2018

NEMB NanoEngineering for Medicine and Biology Conference

Key dates

Conference:
August 21-24, 2018

Exhibition:
August 22-23, 2018

Omni Los Angeles Hotel, California Plaza, CA, USA

NEMB will be an opportunity for leading experts to discuss the integration of engineering, materials science and Nanotechnology in addressing fundamental problems in biology and medicine. The confirmed list of plenary speakers can be found on the conference websiteLab on a Chip Editor-in-Chief, Abe Lee will be chairing the conference.

Submit your abstracts before 21st May by following the link to registration portal here.

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Emerging Investigator Series – Jonathan Song and Shaurya Prakash

We are delighted to introduce our latest Lab on a Chip Emerging Investigators, Jonathan Song and Shaurya Prakash!

Jonathan Song is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Faculty Member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Ohio State University (OSU).  He received his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering (BME) from Northwestern University and his Ph.D. in BME from the University of Michigan while working in the laboratory of Dr. Shu Takayama.  He completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Lance Munn in the Edwin L. Steele Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.  Since 2014, he has been a faculty member at OSU where he leads an interdisciplinary lab that applies microtechnology, principles from tissue engineering, and quantitative engineering analysis for studying the physical dynamics of tumor and vascular biology.  As a faculty member, he has received the NSF CAREER Award, the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientist Development Grant, and the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center Pelotonia Junior Investigator Award.  His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NSF, AHA, American Cancer Society (ACS), and the OSU Institute for Materials Research.

 

Shaurya Prakash is an Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) Thematic Program Director (for Prevention, Detection, and Therapies) at The Ohio State University (OSU). He graduated with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007 and with a B.S. also in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 2001. He has been on the faculty at The Ohio State University since fall 2009 where he directs the Microsystems and Nanosystems Laboratory. His research group focuses on designing, fabrication, and characterization of microsystems and nanosystems for applications in healthcare and engineering biology, water purification, and alternate and renewable energy. The main goals of their research are to: provide a scientific and technological solution to the pressing problems of a rapidly evolving modern society, and educate ourselves, our students, and the community we serve.

Read their Emerging Investigators Series article “Flow dynamics control endothelial permeability in a microfluidic vessel bifurcation model” and find out more about them in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on the role flow dynamics play in endothelial permeability in a microfluidic vessel bifurcation model. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

Jonathan: This is a very nice question.  I have been thinking of flow dynamics and generally blood vessel remodeling and angiogenesis for quite a long time now and how microfluidics is a very powerful approach for probing this biology.  This interest had first crested during my post-doc where I published a paper in 2011 with my post-doc advisor Dr. Lance Munn in PNAS (https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1105316108), which was also highlighted very nicely by Lab on a Chip when this article was first published (DOI: 10.1039/c1lc90131a).  Through this work, I began to fully understand and appreciate how endothelial cells that line intact blood vessels have the capacity to integrate multiple extrinsic signals, both fluid mechanical and biochemical, to determine their angiogenesis fate.

This most recent article is a bit different and I consider a significant technical advancement because of the bifurcating vessel geometry produced by microfluidic system design.  Previous microsystems that I and others had primarily used were mostly straight or parallel channels that do not reconstitute how actual blood vessels branch into two daughter vessels.  My graduate student Ehsan Akbari came up with a clever design that we described in this latest article and enabled the results that we reported.

Shaurya: Over time, my research has evolved in many ways. My first few research articles on microscale reacting gas flows (microcombustion) in millimetre scale channels really started to establish many of the fundamental insights to reacting flows in a new type of configuration. Since then, observing the trends in my work, I see that my research has dealt with developing devices for understanding microfluidic and nanofluidic flows in a variety of configurations spanning a large range of applications from healthcare to energy and water. The goal has always been to develop science to enable new technology for solving problems important to modern society. This particular article on endothelial permeability follows (at least in my mind!) the natural extension of developing novel microfluidic systems and probing fundamental transport characteristics, which in this case happens to be for an important element in biology.

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

Jonathan: Because of my training in microfluidics, I think I will always be excited about developing new systems and applying them to study a specific physiology.  However, at present I am particularly excited in studying the subcellular biophysics that orchestrate changes in endothelial remodeling and angiogenesis.  My lab is part of team along with my co-author on this article (Dr. Shaurya Prakash) and our Ohio State University (OSU) colleague Dr. Carlos Castro that was recently awarded an NIH R01 grant to specifically study this biology.  One of the experimental test beds for these studies is the microfluidic system that was first described in this article.

Shaurya: Our microfluidic platform provides us tremendous flexibility in evaluating bio-chemical-electrical-mechanical aspects of the endothelium. In particular, the ability to systematically evaluate effects of a variety of mechanical, electrical, and chemical stimuli to elicit biological responses from endothelial cells present an exciting avenue for future research that can probably help us to think about how we can truly begin to reach in the domain of ‘engineering biology’.

In your opinion, what is the biggest insight into the mechanisms that control vessel function presented by your research?

Jonathan: I believe it is that the impinging stagnation point flow at the base of our bifurcating microfluidic model (which we term in the article as bifurcated fluid flow or BFF) imparts a vessel stabilizing effect that is nitric oxide (NO) dependent.  This outcome has prompted multiple questions that we wish to pursue in the future that relate to vessel function and vessel maturation.

Shaurya: In this paper, the evaluation of time-dependent changes to endothelial permeability under a variety of systematically controlled local flow conditions (stagnation pressure at bifurcation point, local shear stress, and transvascular flow) showed that the mechanical forces acting on the endothelial cells biochemically-mediate endothelial remodeling processes. Here we reported the first observation of the time-dependent effect of stagnation pressure at the bifurcation point on the permeability thereby introducing stagnation flows at the base of vessel bifurcations as an important regulator of vessel permeability and suggest a mechanism by which local flow dynamics control vascular function in vivo through this in vitro study.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Jonathan: I do like pretty much all aspects of my lab’s research and appreciate the challenges that are associated with working in interdisciplinary research.  What I do find particularly challenging at times is staying on top of the most cutting-edge literature in both the microtechnology and the biology related to my lab’s work.

Shaurya: In vivo biological responses are incredibly complex. The ability to carefully design devices to elucidate systematically the underlying biophysics through in vitro systems requires bringing together various skill sets and intellectual expertise from microfluidic device design, fabrication, and characterization to appropriate biological models followed by subsequent analysis and modeling. Integrating all these skills and expertise to one platform via an interdisciplinary team is both exciting and challenging.

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

Jonathan: My travel patterns have varied from year to year but I typically attend Experimental Biology (or FASEB) because of my involvement with the Microcirculatory Society.  I also typically attend the Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference (SB3) and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting.  I have also enjoyed attending the ASME NanoEngineering for Medicine and Biology (NEMB) conference.  I have not been as active in attending some of the disease specific conferences but intend to start doing so.

Shaurya: Our results are shared at many premier meetings like MicroTAS, Hilton Head Workshop, and other related meetings.

How do you spend your spare time?

Jonathan: My wife is trained as a social worker and is a big proponent of heath and wellness.  Thus, we try to stay active.  For example, we like to take our son biking with us.  He is only 2 years-old now so he is secured to seat on the front of my wife’s bike.  Admittedly, we typically just bike to our favorite local coffee shop.  I have also gotten into a little more extensive cycling, driven largely by my involvement with the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center Pelotonia, which is an annual philanthropic bike race that has raised over $150 million for cancer research since it was started in 2008.  I have rode in every Pelotonia race since I started at OSU in 2014.

Shaurya:  Family time is essential to my success. Sharing my spare time with an incredibly supportive wife, amazing kids (and a wonderful fur-baby, dog) is time well spent. Any residual time after that is taken up by reading and working in my yard tending to my flower beds and lawn.

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

Jonathan: Broadly speaking, probably something in in the business world.  However, if that were the case, I do not think I would be enjoying myself as much as I am now.  Working with my students is probably my favorite part of being an academic scientist.

Shaurya: This is a difficult question as being an engineer and scientist has been not just a profession but a way of life in thinking about solving problems that impact modern society. As a professor, I also enjoy teaching and working with young(er) minds to develop thought processes for solving problems. In my own younger days I was a fair athlete and so being a coach that would allow me to contribute to future generations as a mentor, teacher, and role-model to facilitate positive impact on our world would be an alternate life for me.

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

Jonathan: Invest in ideas that excite you the most.  Also, when pursuing collaborative projects, try to go for the ones that are both highly significant and mutually beneficial for all parties involved.

Shaurya: Choose and work on problems you truly care about – it shows in how the science is done and technology is developed and all the essential pieces behind impactful work like idea and concept development, writing and reading to compare against state-of-art, and eventually advancing the state-of-art. Therefore, pursuing problems that one is truly passionate about is important.

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Emerging Investigator Series – Edmond Young

We are delighted to introduce our latest Lab on a Chip Emerging Investigator, Edmond Young!

Dr. Edmond Young joined the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor in January 2013. He received his BASc (2001) and MASc (2003) in Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia, and his PhD in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto (2008). He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 2009 to 2012, working at the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research (WIMR). Professor Young’s research interests focus on the development of microscale technologies for cell biology applications, with emphasis on creating engineered models that mimic the cell and tissue microenvironments in both healthy and diseased animals. He received the Governor General’s Gold Medal and the Norman F. Moody Award for academic excellence in 2009, the MIE Early Career Teaching Award in 2015, the Ontario Early Researcher Award and Connaught New Investigator Award in 2016, and has been recognized as an Outstanding Reviewer for Lab on a Chip in both 2016 and 2017.

Read Edmond’s Emerging Investigator series paper “Microfluidic lung airway-on-a-chip with arrayable suspended gels for studying epithelial and smooth muscle cell interactions” and find out more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on lung airway-on-a-chip. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

This is actually our first article on this specific project, and we’re excited to share these results with the Lab on a Chip readership, and others doing lung-on-a-chip research. I can think back to a few articles on thermoplastic microfabrication that our lab published (Guckenberger et al., Lab Chip, 2015; Wan et al., Lab Chip, 2015; Wan et al., JoVE, 2017), which really enabled us to fabricate our current airway-on-a-chip device consistently and repeatably. Developing reliable fabrication methods gave us the confidence needed to do these long-term cultures without constantly worrying about fabrication challenges. Now, our lab can fabricate and keep devices “in stock” well ahead of the biology experiments, and that in itself has been a bit of an evolution in our lab and also in the field.

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

I’m most excited about the ongoing collaborations with engineers and doctors who are interested in using the platform for their own work. The technology still has a lot of room for development, but hearing how the system may be applied to lung research, and potentially other biology questions, is very exciting and motivating.

In your opinion, what is the biggest impact your developed lung airway-on-a-chip could have on our understanding of chronic lung diseases?

I think the biggest impact will be learning about the differences in biological responses of the various in vitro and ex vivo airway models, against which we plan to benchmark our model. The promise of organ-on-a-chip technology lies in its ability to mimic human tissue more accurately, and if our model can continue to advance as planned, we envision making new observations with our device that could not have been made with conventional models. And if we do find interesting differences, it will build on the growing evidence that traditional platforms such as 2D Transwells for coculture do not properly recapitulate the in vivo microenvironment. Many scientists will need to rethink their approach to in vitro experiments (if they haven’t done so already), and decide what models are most representative and most useful.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The most challenging aspect of my research overall is trying to keep pace with the field. It is a rapidly evolving area of research with many amazing scientists and engineers making important contributions. Research takes time and patience, so another constant challenge is managing students who are just learning about the effort, resilience, and patience needed to make something work in research. But it’s well worth it when you see the results, both in terms of the research and in terms of student development.

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

I’ll be in Whistler from May 9-11, 2018 for an Emerging Technologies Conference, back in Toronto to co-chair the Ontario-on-a-Chip Symposium from May 24-25, 2018 (Lab on a Chip is our sponsor this year!), and plan to be at microTAS 2018 in Taiwan.

How do you spend your spare time?

I play a little tennis (seasonally in Toronto’s climate), but my latest source of amusement when I have spare time is my 11-month-old daughter Amelia. When she’s old enough, I will surely convince her to get into tennis (and hockey) so that her dad can live vicariously through her athletic pursuits! And if she happens to fall in love with research, I’d be pleased with that too.

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

I considered being an architect when I was younger, and I still get excited when I hear of the latest buildings and structures around the world that are being built. I like the technical engineering aspects of it, of course, but I also like how they define the skyline of big cities, and how art, culture, and engineering all come together in some of the world’s most beautiful architecture.

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

Surround yourself with great people. That applies to your friends, mentors, colleagues, and importantly, your students. And let them all challenge you so that your ideas are pressure-tested.

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ISMM 2018

The ISMM 2018 conference takes place from Tues 19 – Thurs 21 June, 2018 in Busan, Korea

Key deadlines

Notice of Acceptance for Oral Presentation: 27th March 2018 – 3rd April 2018
Early Registration Deadline: 24th April 2018
Abstract deadline for Poster Presentation: 8th May 2018

Plenary speakers will include Professor Abraham Lee and Professor Roland Zengerie. For further information on how to register, specific topics of interest, venue and other listed speakers, please see the conference website.

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2018 Joint Ontario-on-a-Chip and TOeP Symposium

2018 Joint Ontario-on-a-Chip and TOeP Symposium will take place May 24 – 25, 2018

Keynote symposium speakers:

Prof. Sabeth Verpoorte 

Prof. Howard Stone 

Dates and Location

Abstract submission: April 28th, 2018

Registration: Early-bird registration will end April 15th, 2018

Organisers:

Dr. Scott Tsai, Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, Ryerson University

Dr. Edmond Young, Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto

Dr. Milica Radisic, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of

 

For information on invited speakers, registration fees and further details about the program, see the conference website and submit your abstract here.

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