SelectBio Conferences & Exhibitions, 2019

SelectBio conference logoWe are excited to announce that registration is now open for the SelectBio Conferences that take place throughout 2019. The various events and exhibitions will bring together a number of keynote speakers to discuss the most up-to-date technologies and advances in different evolving fields. Check out the SelectBio website for a list of events and descriptions, including a full list of confirmed plenary speakers. Some of the events will be hosted in Coronado Island, California and the Europe-based conferences will take place in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Lab on a Chip, AnalystAnalytical Methods and Biomaterials Science are delighted to sponsor the following upcoming events and exhibitions in 2019:

SelectBio: Circulating Biomarkers and Liquid Biopsies, Coronado Island

SelectBio: Biosensors Summit, Coronado Island

SelectBio: 3D-Culture and Organoids, Coronado Island

SelectBio: Lab-on-a-Chip and Microfluidics Europe, Rotterdam

SelectBio: Organ-on-a-Chip and Tissue-on-a-Chip Europe, Rotterdam

SelectBio: Point-of-Care, Mobile Diagnostics and Biosensors Europe, Rotterdam

SelectBio: Biofabrication & Biomanufacturing Europe, Rotterdam

SelectBio: Point-of-Care Diagnostics, Wearables & Global Health 2019

SelectBio: Lab-on-a-Chip & Microfluidics World Congress 2019

SelectBio: Microfluidics for Circulating Biomarkers Summit 2019

SelectBio: Microfluidics & Flow Chemistry 2019

SelectBio: Organ-on-a-Chip World Congress 2019

Single Cell & Single Molecule Analysis Summit 2019

We recommend registering early to secure a place at these events. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for upcoming conferences, and stay connected with SelectBio. Register now!


Circulating Biomarkers 2019, SelectBio conferences

Biofabrication & Biomanufacturing Europe 2019, SelectBio conference

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Emerging Investigator Series – Kyle Bishop

Kyle Bishop

 

Introducing Kyle Bishop: Lab on a Chip‘s latest Emerging Investigator

Kyle Bishop received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University under the guidance of Bartosz Grzybowski for work on nanoscale forces in self-assembly. Following his PhD, Dr. Bishop was a post-doctoral fellow with George Whitesides at Harvard University, where he developed new strategies for manipulating flames with electric fields. He started his independent career at Penn State University in the Department of Chemical Engineering. In 2016, Dr. Bishop moved to Columbia University, where he is currently an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. Dr. Bishop has been recognized by the 3M Non-tenured Faculty award and the NSF CAREER award. His research seeks to discover, understand, and apply new strategies for organizing and directing colloidal matter through self-assembly and self-organization far-from-equilibrium.

 

 

Read Dr Bishop’s article entitled ‘Measurement and mitigation of free convection in microfluidic gradient generators’ and find out more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on the measurement and mitigation of free convection in microfluidic gradient generators. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

Our first article in Lab on a Chip focused on harnessing electric potential gradients to power transport and separations within microfluidic systems. Here, we examine how chemical gradients can drive fluid flows as well as motions of colloidal particles, lipid vesicles, and living cells. These topics are linked by our continued interest in harnessing and directing thermodynamic gradients to perform dynamic functions at small scales.

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

Currently, we are excited by our pursuit of colloidal “robots” that organise spontaneously in space and time to perform useful functions, which can be rationally encoded within active soft matter.

In your opinion, what is the future of microfluidic gradient generators? Any new applications you foresee for them?

Our interest in microfluidic gradient generators grew from a desire to quantify the motions of lipid vesicles in osmotic gradients (so-called osmophoresis).  These measurements were plagued by undesired gradient-driven flows.  We thought that our efforts to understand and mitigate these flows would be useful to others studying gradient driven motions (e.g., chemotaxis of living cells).

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Staying focused. The world is filled with many micro-mysteries that may pique your curiosity, but time is limited. Picking problems and following through on their solution is an ever-present challenge.

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

Our group regularly attends the AIChE Annual Meeting and the ACS Colloid and Surface Science Symposium.

How do you spend your spare time?

Exploring New York City with my family and thinking about science.

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

What a horrible thought…perhaps a lawyer as I value evidence-based reasoning and the rule of law (physical or otherwise).

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

Think big and collaborate often.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Emerging Investigator Series: Scott Tsai

Dr. Scott Tsai is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Ryerson University, and an Affiliate Scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital. He obtained his BASc degree (2007) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto, and his SM (2009) and PhD (2012) degrees in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University. After a brief NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Toronto, Dr. Tsai joined Ryerson University at the end of 2012. He leads the Laboratory of Fields, Flows, and Interfaces (LoFFI), which is currently developing innovative microfluidic approaches to generate and use water-in-water droplets and microbubbles in a variety of biomedical applications. Dr. Tsai is a recipient of the United States’ Fulbright Visiting Research Chair Award (2018), Ontario’s Early Career Researcher Award (2016), Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering’s I. W. Smith Award (2015), and Ryerson University’s Deans’ Teaching Award (2015).

Read Dr. Tsai’s Emerging Investigator Series article “Microfluidic diamagnetic water-in-water droplets: a biocompatible cell encapsulation and manipulation platform” and find out more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on microfluidic diamagnetic water-in-water droplets. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article

My group’s research is contributing to the exciting and emerging theme of all-aqueous and biocompatible water-in-water droplet microfluidics, which was started just a few years ago. Following the pioneering work of others, such as Anderson Shum (University of Hong Kong), we demonstrated that pulsating inlet pressures could be used to break-up all-aqueous threads into water-in-water droplets (Moon et al.Lab on a Chip, 2015). We subsequently simplified the approach by using weak hydrostatic pressure to passively create the water-in-water droplets (Moon et al.Analytical Chemistry, 2016), which enabled other applications, such as cellular encapsulation and release (Moon et al.Lab on a Chip, 2016), Pickering-style stabilization (Abbasi et al.Langmuir, 2018), and diamagnetic manipulation, as described in this paper. I am really excited to see what other tools emerge in the coming years that leverage water-in-water droplet microfluidics.

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

I think right now, we as a community are still in the phase of developing the functionality and performance of water-in-water droplet microfluidics platforms. However, I have not seen many papers that leverage the unique characteristics of water-in-water droplets, which are based in aqueous two phase systems (ATPS). For example, ATPS fluids can selectively partition molecules and cells into or out of the droplet phase. I am most excited to see what we and other researchers can create that exploits unique features such as this.

In your opinion, what do you think is the future of droplet encapsulation technologies for single cell analysis?  

Predicting the future is always difficult, but I would say that at some point there will start to be some kind of standardization of encapsulation technologies, so that the entire field can move further into single cell analysis applications.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

I find that the most challenging aspect is related to selecting the right problems to work on. Water-in-water droplet microfluidics is emerging and there are many possibilities for research in this area. However, we have limited resources like time and funding, so we have to be selective about which problems to work on, and try to pick the ones that we think will have the greatest impact on advancing the field.

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

I always enjoy learning more about fluid mechanics at the American Physics Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics (APS-DFD) meeting. I am also a huge fan of the Ontario on a Chip symposium, which was sponsored by Lab on a Chip this year. I was the co-host with Edmond Young and Milicia Radisic (both from the University of Toronto) of Ontario on a Chip for a few years, and my entire group attends the symposium every year. The keynote talks by international leaders in our field draws many attendees, but I am also always amazed by the quality of the student presentations.

How do you spend your spare time?

These days, my spare time is mostly spent with my young family—my wife Edlyn, and my two daughters, Abigail (4) and Chloe (1). I also do some volunteer work for my church. Additionally, as kind of an avid cyclist, I enjoy mountain biking on weekends, and road biking for my commute to work, and for charity rides for example Ride for Heart. Interestingly, I also bike commute sometimes with my Ontario on a Chip co-host, and LOC Emerging Investigator Edmond Young – so perhaps cycling contributes to one’s ability to be a good investigator!

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

This seems to change at various points in my life. (If you had asked me this question when I was a teenager, I would have probably said that I wanted to be a professional basketball player.) Right now, I think if I was not a scientist I would probably be a bicycle mechanic. Indeed, if I ever retire from science, I might actually attempt to get a job as a mechanic at my local bike shop.

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

Find a mentor that is well-established, willing to help you, and understands the intricacies of academia, funding, and other aspects of science careers. I was fortunate to receive this kind of mentorship from one of my collaborators from the start of my independent research career. I regard this mentorship as probably the most important factor that has helped me advance in my career.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Emerging Investigator Series: Yi-Chin Toh

Dr Yi-Chin Toh obtained her B.Eng in Chemical Engineering and PhD in Bioengineering from the National University of Singapore in 2001 and 2008 respectively. She did her post-doctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008 before joining the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, A*STAR as a research scientist in 2010. Since 2014, she is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore.  Yi-Chin’s research interest is in engineering multi-tissue in vitro models to mimic complex biological interactions during human development and diseases, and translate them into scalable platforms for disease modeling and drug testing applications. Dr Toh is a recipient of the National University of Singapore Research Scholarship, A*STAR Graduate Scholarship and A*STAR International Fellowship.

Read her full Emerging Investigator Series article A liver-immune coculture array for predicting systemic drug-induced skin sensitization”  and find out more about her in the video interview below:

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Emerging Investigator Series: Weiqiang Chen

Dr. Weiqiang Chen is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at New York University. He received his B.S. in Physics from Nanjing University in 2005 and M.S. degrees from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2008 and Purdue University in 2009, both in Electrical Engineering. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2014.  He is the receipt of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Trailblazer Award, the American Heart Association Scientist Development Award,  the NYU Whitehead Fellowship, the 2013 Baxter Young Investigator Award, the University of Michigan Richard F. & Eleanor A. Towner Prize for Outstanding PhD Research, and the ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award. Dr. Chen’s research interests focus on Lab-on-a-Chip, biomaterials, mechanobiology, stem cell biology, caner biology, and immune engineering.

Read his latest Emerging Investigator Series article An integrated adipose-tissue-on-chip nanoplasmonic biosensing platform for investigating obesity-associated inflammation and read more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on “An Integrated Adipose-Tissue-On-Chip Nanoplasmonic Biosensing Platform for Investigating Obesity-associated Inflammation”. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

We have previously been interested in developing microfluidic biosensing systems for immune cell cytokine detections. Quantitative measurements of the cytokine-producing capacity of different immune cells are critically important for characterizing the immune cell functions and defining the “immune phenotypes” of patients for clinical diagnosis and interventions. Although many advanced biosensing techniques have been purposed for cytokine profiling, there are no clinically available methods that integrate high-resolution immune cell monitoring and multiplexed cytokine detection together in its native tissue microenvironment, which is a big hurdle to understand the cellular immunophenotype behaviors during disease progression. This has inspired us to consider of combining the label-free nanoplasmonic biosensors with an Adipose-Tissue-on-Chip system reported in the recent article to quantitatively characterize obesity-associated dynamic cytokine secretion behaviors in a complex biomimetic adipose tissue microenvironment.

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

I am most excited about the potential of our research for future applications in personalized medicine.

In your opinion, what do you think the contribution of disease-on-a-chip models for personalised medicine is likely to be?

Traditional medicine, which mostly relies on test of treatment on animal models, has many limitations. This is because the traditional animal models cannot mimic human pathophysiology accurately. Alternatively, the disease-on-a-chip platform can mimic an ideal microenvironment of human pathologic tissue, which enables a more accurate way to test the medicine activity under molecular- and cellular-scale in human organ tissue in vitro. Particularly, the cellular immunophenotype behavior is highly correlated with the tissue microenvironment. Unquestionably, integrating in situ cellular and molecular immune profiling in an organotypic setting can provide a reliable and accurate screening to characterize cell functions in its native tumor microenvironment. More importantly, due to the heterogeneity between individual human being, even for patients who are diagnosed with the same disease, their response to a same medicine treatment can be diversified. The minimized microfluidic disease-on-a-chip model can be derived from the specific patient’s cells or explanted pathophysiology tissue, allows parallel screening of multiple medical treatments in personalized manner. Therefore, this technology will provide the most efficient way to identify the most effective personalized medical options before applying to the patient’s own self.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The most challenging part about our research is to accelerate translational technologies from the benchtop to the clinic to make a real impact on patients. A number of obstacles, including differences in culture between basic and clinical researchers, difficulty in developing and sustaining interdisciplinary collaborations, inadequate training and knowledge in medical sciences, and lack of funding, resources, or infrastructure, have limited the opportunities for basic bioengineering investigators, including myself, to conduct translational research. Therefore, my lab has established strong collaboration with many clinical colleagues at NYU Langone Health. Their expertise will contribute most significantly to our research from the biology and clinical aspects. Through this, I believe our engineering methods can introduce real impact to translational clinical research.

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

We will present our research in the upcoming Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting and the International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences (µTAS 2018).

How do you spend your spare time?

I enjoy watching movies, spending time with family and friends, and traveling to different cities around the world.

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

I would probably choose a career in social science.

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

Something I could suggest is to be patient in testing your new ideas. It always take some time, normally years, for a scientist to prove a new scientific idea and develop it into practical methods or solutions.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Quantitative and multiplex microRNA assays from unprocessed cells in isolated nanoliter well arrays

MIT researchers develop a simple new chip that simplifies sample preparation and reduces sample volume for micro-RNA analysis

In recent years, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as potential biomarkers for a range of diseases. These short (~22 nucleotide) sequences of non-coding RNA function by silencing messenger RNA and thus, provide a form of post-transcriptional regulation in the cell. Consequently, their regulation can have a significant impact on cell function. While they are implicated in many diseases, their role in cancer is of particular interest. It is known that multiple miRNAs are dysregulated in tumours compared to healthy tissues and they can be used as biomarkers in cancer diagnosis. Testing for multiple miRNAs provides a better diagnosis, so it is important to be able to test them as a panel. There are many techniques available to test for miRNAs such as gene chips, quantitative RT-PCR, and RNA-seq, but these technologies all have their own shortcomings. What is common to all them is the need for sample preparation, and mainly RNA extraction from the tissue or cells to be tested. In their recent HOT article, Tentori and researchers from the Doyle Group at MIT describe a chip that could overcome this problem and perform multiplexed testing of miRNA all within a minimum volume of just a few nanoliters.

The new chip comprises two glass slides which can be sandwiched together. The bottom slide has an array of 300 µm diameter wells which contain the miRNA sensors and serve to isolate samples into a small reaction volume. The top slide is then used to deliver lysis reagents to the sample. The authors tried a variety of designs for the top plate, but ultimately settled on an array of 30 µm diameter wells. This has two advantages; 1) Reagents are precisely metered and 2) the top and bottom plates can be sandwiched robustly without any need for precision handling or alignment. This last point is really important to Augusto Tentori, a postdoc in the Doyle Group and the lead author of the paper. Tentori wants “to make devices that are simple and robust, so translation is easier.” The miRNA sensors are polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogels that contain complementary DNA probes.  The posts are photopolymerized in the wells and various sizes, shapes, and patterns of posts can be made. Further, a single well can contain a variety of posts, each functionalized with a different DNA probe targeting a different miRNA. In this way, multiplexed assays can be performed with spatial separation. The chip format of the assay is more sensitive than previous formats and can detect miRNA from less than 20 cells.

Tentori is really excited about the prospects of this new chip. His co-authors include pathologists who have been guiding the project to make sure it is clinically useful, and he really wants to see this technology get into the hands of pathologists and diagnostic technicians.

Read the full article by Tentori et al. here “Quantitative and multiplex microRNA assays from unprocessed cells in isolated nanoliter well arrays” that features in Lab on a Chip’HOT article collection

About the webwriter

Darius Rackus (right) is a postdoctoral researcher in the Dittrich Bionalytics Group at ETH Zürich. His research interests are in developing integrated microfluidic tools for healthcare and bioanalysis

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Emerging Investigator Series: Kiana Aran

Dr. Aran received her undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the City University of New York in 2007 and her Ph.D in biomedical engineering at Rutgers University in 2012. She then continued her postdoctoral studies in bioengineering at the University of California Berkeley and was a recipient of National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral training fellowship at the Buck Institute for Age Research in 2015. She joined Keck Graduate Institute in 2017 as an Assistant Professor and is a currently a visiting scientist at the University of California Berkeley. She is also a consultant for Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation and cofounder of NanoSens innovations. Since starting her faculty position in 2017, Dr. Aran work has been supported by various funds including one RO1, industry sponsored research and a 3 years subaward from University of California Berkeley.

Read her Emerging Investigator Series article “Graphene-based biosensor for on-chip detection of Bio-orthogonally Labeled Proteins to Identify the Circulating Biomarkers of Aging during Heterochronic Parabiosis” and find out more about her in the interview below:

 

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on digital detection of tagged proteins in vivo to identify the circulating biomarkers in aging. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

I was a recipient of an NIH T32 award during my last years of postdoc training at UC Berkeley (2015-2017) which provided me with the opportunity to work with Dr. Irina Conboy, a pioneer in utilizing bio-orthogonally labeled proteins for research on aging. This approach enabled the detection of several rejuvenating protein candidates from the young parabiont, which were transferred to the old mammalian tissue through their shared circulation. Although this method was very powerful, there were a lot of challenges with the detection of these tagged proteins including very time consuming, complex and expensive assays, large sample requirement and false positive. I started working on this project as a side project along with other projects I had with Dr. Conboy just to make the process more facile so we can detect these protein faster and more continuously. This work is a great example of utilizing a lab on a chip technology for a real application. I have also started collaboration with nanomedical diagnostics, a startup company in San Diego, to enable mass production of our chips with high reproducibility. With my academic and industrial collaborators, we are planning to utilize this technology for at least two different applications in the near future to better understand the biology of aging.

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

I am very excited to see my technologies go beyond publications. Two of my inventions have been licensed toward developing medical devices for drug delivery and medical diagnostics and the joy from that have been the biggest drive for me to work harder.

In your opinion, what is the future of portable devices for biosensing?

Even though still in its emerging stage, digital diagnostics and 2D materials will shape the future of biosensors.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

As a junior faculty, it is difficult to recruit highly motivated postdoctoral researchers. Unfortunately, the majority of postdoctoral candidates often look for a well-established laboratory headed by a leading scientist. Students and postdoc should know that working in a new lab can be challenging but can provide researcher with opportunities to strengthen their scientific and management skills.

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

I will be presenting some of my biosensor work in the upcoming IEEE EMBS MNMC Conference

Above: Dr Aran supports a community in Africa by building a school

How do you spend your spare time? 

I love what I do so I can not define my spare time from my work time. I have recently co-founded a startup in digital diagnostics so that takes my weekend but I love it. I also paint when I feel like painting.  But I do run, swim and work out routinely after work and enjoy a variety of sports.  I have also started traveling to small villages around the world with my friends where we help in building schools.

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

I love painting and would have explored a career in art.

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

Have a vision. Sometimes we get lost in small career goals such as publishing but if you have a vision of what you are trying to accomplish you can define your career path, you will start working with the right people who support your vision, you will attend the right conferences and workshops for your career development and you will definitely be successful.

Lab on a Chip Issue 21

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Emerging Investigator Series: Adriana San Miguel

Adriana San Miguel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at NC State University. She is part of the Synthetic and Systems Biology Chancellor´s Faculty Excellence Program. Her work combines engineering and biology and focuses on developing tools to perform high-throughput automated experiments with the model organism C. elegans. Her team uses these tools and this organism to better understand aging, stress, and the nervous system.

Adriana is originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. After receiving a BS in Chemical Engineering at the Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM) in 2005, she worked in the water treatment and cement industries for 2 years. She obtained a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2011. She then took on a Postdoctoral Research position at Georgia Tech, and a second one at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. In 2013, Adriana was awarded the NIH K99 Pathway to Independence Award to study the mechanisms regulating synaptic plasticity and aging in the nematode C. elegans.

Read her Emerging Investigator Series article “A microfluidic platform for lifelong high-resolution and high throughput imaging of subtle aging phenotypes in C. elegansand find out more about her in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on a microfluidic platform for high-resolution and high throughput imaging of aging phenotypes in C. elegans. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article? 

We have previously been interested in developing systems for high-throughput imaging and analysis of subcellular features in C. elegans, and gained interest in quantitatively assessing how these change during aging. Aging studies pose several technical challenges that could not be addressed with previous microfluidic devices, thus our interest in developing a system capable of performing high-throughput analysis of aging phenotypes.

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

I am excited about the possibility of doing systems biology enabled by microfluidics. Lab on chip approaches provide an excellent level of precision in experimental conditions which are unfeasible with traditional C. elegans techniques. Microfluidics also allows high-throughput studies that result in large data sets, and as a consequence, a need to perform unsupervised quantitative data analysis. When combined, these powerful approaches enable better understanding of biological processes from a systems perspective.

In your opinion, what are the challenges with using microfluidics for whole organism behaviour?

Behavioral studies are challenging, particularly because there is a large degree of variability within a population. Microfluidics can help by facilitating animal handling and ensuring the stimuli used is precise (in time, concentration, and localization). Although it is difficult to determine how representative a microfluidic environment (where animals navigate in 2D) resembles their natural 3D environment, microfluidic chips enable single animal tracking, thus increasing the confidence of noisy behavioral readouts.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Our research requires the integration of several different fields. We develop microfluidic tools, and use them to answer fundamental biological questions. In addition, we use automation, image processing, machine learning, and analysis tools for the large data sets we acquire. Integrating all of these can certainly be challenging, but achieving fully integrated systems is what we find very motivating.

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

I typically attend the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meetings, as well as the International C. elegans meeting, among others.

How do you spend your spare time?

I enjoy working out every day, it is a necessary part of my routine. I also enjoy baseball, live music, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

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

I’d probably still be an Engineer, or maybe an artist of some sort.

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

Something I could suggest is to not be afraid of testing new ideas and methods or venturing into different fields. Although it can be challenging to develop something that is completely new, if it sparks your interest, give it a try. It is very rewarding and motivating to get something new working.


San Miguel Journal Front Cover

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

How soil-worms allow for realistic human physiology studies

Mice, fruit fly, zebra fish easily come to mind when thinking of animal models for human physiology studies – but one animal is often forgotten, although it is as functional as the others. Have you guessed already? We are talking about soil-dwelling worms, aka C. elegans! These animals combine the simplicity of single-cell systems with the complexity of animal models, therefore they can provide significant insights into human disorders. Please take a moment to look at our note below summarizing the key features of C. elegans.

Muscular strength is a good example of human physiology studies  and it relies on calcium-initiated muscle contraction, sarcomere composition and organization, and translocation of actin and myosin molecules. Analysis of such parameters can reveal the formation of muscular dystrophy, a muscle degenerative disorder. However, the measurement of these parameters has been a challenge due to the dependence on random animal-behavior that yields irreproducible results. Recently, researchers from Texas Tech University collaborated with Rutgers University and University of Nottingham to study muscular strength in C. elegans. They achieved to obtain results independent of animal behavior and gait in a miniature system consisting of an elastic micropillar forest (Figure 1a and 1b).

The microfluidic system is made of PDMS, and contains bendable micropillars hanging from the microchannel ceiling. The pillars are bent upon the action of the body muscles when C. elegans crawls through the pillar array. Individual pillar bending events can be quantified using a microscope-camera system and image analysis (Figure 1c). The pillar density is designed to create high mechanical resistance to locomotion, therefore maximum exertable force can be measured independent of animal behavior. Here, maximum exertable force corresponds to the peak force exerted by human quadriceps muscle in a standardized knee extension resistance test.

Figure 1. (a) Image of the microfluidic device with the pillar forest and the ports. (b) Schematic demonstration of the C. elegans strength measurement apparatus. Inset shows a scanning electron microscope picture of the pillars. (c) A sketch of interaction with a pillar by the worm body. The pillar is bent due to the action of the body muscles (shown in red and green). Image from Rahman et al.

The authors of this study explain that animals produce strong forces in highly resistive areas and demonstrate different locomotion regimes based on the body size relative to gap between pillars. Besides the body size, body configuration and behavioral characteristics can be the sources to the magnitude of the force exerted on the pillars. Thanks to the probabilistic nature of the parameters sourcing of the force exerted, a reproducible algorithm can be defined for quantifying muscle strength. Using this strategy, researchers showed for the first time that locomotion between microfluidic pillars comprises of three regimes: non-resistive (worm contacts with 1-2 pillars and doesn’t adjust body posture), moderately resistive (worm contacts with >2 pillars and minimally adjust body posture), and highly resistive (worm contacts with multiple pillars and body posture adjustment is disabled). When operated at highly-resistive regime, the microfluidic system suppresses the animal behavior. This system allows for (1) discriminating between the muscle strength or weakness levels of individual worms of different ages, (2) determining body length decrease and muscular contraction levels led by levamisole treatment, (3) comparing the muscular strength in the wild and mutant C. elegans types. According to the researchers, the future studies can help us to obtain deeper understanding in molecular and cellular circuits of neuromuscular function as well as dissection of degenerative processes in disuse, aging, and disease.

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

NemaFlex: a microfluidics-based technology for standardized measurement of muscular strength of C. elegans
Mizanur Rahman, Jennifer E. Hewitt, Frank Van-Bussel, Hunter Edwards, Jerzy Blawzdziewicz, Nathaniel J. Szewczyk, Monica Driscolld, and Siva A. Vanapalli
Lab Chip, 2018, Lab on a Chip Recent Hot Articles
DOI: 10.1039/c8lc00103k

 

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.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Pioneers of Miniaturization Lectureship 2018

We are delighted to announce that Sunghoon Kwon is 2018 winner of the “Pioneers of Miniaturization” Lectureship!

The 13th “Pioneers of Miniaturization” Lectureship, sponsored by Dolomite and Lab on a Chip , is for early to mid-career scientists who have made extraordinary or outstanding contributions to the understanding or development of miniaturised systems.

This “Pioneers of Miniaturization” Lectureship will be presented to Sunghoon at the µTAS 2018 Conference in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, being held on 11-15 November, 2018. Sunghoon will receive a certificate, a monetary award and will give a short lecture during the conference.

Many congratulations to Professor Sunghoon Kwon on this achievement from the Lab on a Chip Team!

 

About the Winner

©Youngkwang Kang

Sunghoon Kwon earned his PhD in Bioengineering from University California at Berkeley, California, USA  in 2004. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he was appointed to his current role as a Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Seoul National University.

In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Dr. Kwon has received numerous awards, including Young Scientist Award from The Korean Academy of Science and Technology (2011), Young Scientist Award from the Korean President (2012), “IT Young Engineer Award” from IEEE (2016), Young Engineer Award from National Academy of Engineering of Korea (2018). He has authored more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and has served as Advisory Board member of Lab on a Chip since 2017. Another major contribution by Professor Kwon is the commercialization of his microfluidic technologies. A rapid antibiotic susceptibility testing method published in Lab on a Chip (2013) and Science Translational Medicine (2014) and a high-throughput DNA synthesis method (Nature Communications 2015) has been commercialized by two companies, which were spun off Professor Kwon’s laboratory.

His research interests are the interface of biomedical engineering, bioMEMS, optofluidics, nanofabrication, and nanoengineering, specifically focusing on innovative diagnostic and synthetic biology platforms for personalized medicine.

Learn about the Kwon group online

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)