Lab on a Chip presents prestigious prizes at MicroTAS 2019

The µTAS 2019 Conference was held from 27-31st October in Basel, Switzerland. Maria Southall, Deputy Editor of Lab on a Chip, attended the conference and announced the prestigious Lab on a Chip awards which include the Pioneers of Miniaturization Lectureship (in partnership with Dolomite Microfluidics), the Widmer Young Researcher Poster Prize and the Art in Science competition (in partnership with NIST). All three competitions received many fantastic submissions and we are delighted to present the winners, below:

Lab on a Chip/Dolomite “Pioneers of Miniaturization” Lectureship

Professor Hang Lu (Georgia Tech, USA) was awarded the 14th “Pioneers of Miniaturization” Lectureship, sponsored by Dolomite and Lab on a Chip. The “Pioneers of Miniaturization” Lectureship rewards early to mid-career scientists who have made extraordinary or outstanding contributions to the understanding or development of miniaturised systems. Professor Lu received a certificate, a monetary award and delivered a short lecture at the conference.

Left to right: Mark Gilligan (Dolomite), Hang Lu (winner) and Maria Southall (Lab on a Chip)

Left to right: Mark Gilligan (Dolomite), Hang Lu (winner) and Maria Southall (Lab on a Chip)

 

 

Hang Lu (winner) delivering her lecture

Hang Lu (winner) delivering her lecture

Art in Science Competition

Greg Cooksey from the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) and Lab on a Chip Deputy Editor Maria Southall presented the Art in Science award to Joseph de Rutte from UCLA for his entry “A Cell’s World”. This award aims to highlight the aesthetic value in scientific illustrations while still conveying scientific merit.

Greg Cooksey (NIST), Joseph de Rutte (UCLA, winner) and Maria Southall (Lab on a Chip)

Left to right: Greg Cooksey (NIST), Joseph de Rutte (UCLA, winner) and Maria Southall (Lab on a Chip)

Fluorescent image of uniform droplets formed using structured microparticles. Fluorescently labeled particles are suspended in a water solution and agitated with oil and surfactant. This platform is used to encapsulate single-cells and measure their secretions.

Winning image ‘A Cell’s World’: Fluorescent image of uniform droplets formed using structured microparticles. Fluorescently labeled particles are suspended in a water solution and agitated with oil and surfactant. This platform is used to encapsulate single-cells and measure their secretions.

Widmer Young Researcher Poster Prize

The Widmer Young Researcher Poster Prize was awarded to Roberto Rodriguez-Moncayo from the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del IPN, Mexico, for his poster on “Integrated microfluidic device for universal secretory immunophenotyping studies for adherent and non adherent cells”.

Maria Southall (left) with Roberto Rodriguez-Moncayo (winner)

Maria Southall (left, Lab on a Chip) with Roberto Rodriguez-Moncayo (winner)

Congratulations to all the winners at the conference, we look forward to seeing you at µTAS 2020 in Palm Springs, California, USA! 

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New thematic collection open for submissions – Single Cell Analysis

We are delighted to announce a new thematic collection in Lab on a Chip, focusing on multimodal single cell analysis, with Professors Daniel T. Chiu and Pratip K. Chattopadhyay as thought leaders.

Daniel Chiu

Professors Chiu and Chattopadhyay describe the current challenges in the field in their recent editorial in Lab on a Chip on “The Next Frontier in Single Cell Analysis: MultiModal Studies and Clinical Translation”:

Biological processes are inherently complex. Stochasticity, redundancy, plasticity, and noise are built into fundamental cellular activities from gene transcription to protein expression. A major challenge in biomedical research is to untangle this complexity. Microarray technology influenced biological research because it demonstrated clearly the wide selection of cellular molecules available for measurement and provided an efficient means to query them. However, microarrays require a large amount of material and assay large numbers of cells together in bulk.

Single cell analysis overcomes the problems of bulk measurements, but for many years the only available technology—flow cytometry—was incapable of highly multiplexed measurements. The current movement in single cell analysis is multimodal characterization. These approaches, which are rapidly replacing one-dimensional single cell analysis in biomedical research, simultaneously combine measurements of transcription with post-transcriptional regulation, epigenetic modifications, and surface protein expression. It is possible that lipid and metabolite composition, and/or cellular morphology may also be analyzed with the transcriptome or proteome.

We now have a dizzying array of tools that provide us with the potential to comprehensively and accurately characterize the cells involved in a biological process. We are a step away from using these tools widely and efficiently to impact clinical care, but there are large obstacles we must break down first. With a better understanding of the complexity ingrained in cellular systems, how do we smartly choose subsets of markers and cell types to survey, remembering that samples from patients are often limited as are research budgets? Once we know what to measure, there is the critical question of how to measure it, since there are a myriad of technical platforms and data analysis tools from which to choose. As we make measurements, how do we ensure that they are robust—are there general validation and quality control principles we can establish, or are such measures wholly platform-specific? Finally, are highly multiplexed, single cell technologies valuable only as a screening tool to identify simple biomarkers, or can these highly complex technologies (and their associated data analysis algorithms) be used directly for clinical diagnostics?

We invite review and research manuscripts that suggest answers to these questions and related issues for inclusion in a thematic collection focused on multimodal single cell analysis. If you are interested in submitting to the collection please contact the Editorial Office.

This collection open for submissions now, and into 2020.

 

If you’re interested in this topic, you can read our previous thematic collection on droplet-based single-cell sequencing here. The articles are free to read until November 15th 2019.

 

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Lab on a Chip Thematic collection on cancer immuno-therapy-open for submissions

Professor James R. Heath, Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, USA

We are very happy to announce a new thematic collection in Lab on a Chip on immunotherapy with Professor James R. Heath, President and Professor at Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, acting as Thought leader.

In his recent Editorial published in Lab on a Chip, Professor James R. Heath wrote “The rapid development of cancer immunotherapies over the past 5-10 years is not only revolutionizing clinical cancer care, but it is also making the immunotherapy field a proving ground for many new measurement and computational technologies.  An understanding of the technological needs of this field can be gleaned by placing those needs within the context of state-of-the-art treatments. […]

The level of personalisation that is now being tested in the clinic hardly was unthinkable just a decade ago.  The newness of personalized cancer immunotherapies means that, as a rule, they are still extremely expensive.  An urgent and unmet need is to develop technologies that can assist in the democratization of such treatments.[…]

A unique characteristic of the biology of immuno-oncology is that it can invariably be mined to generate new hypotheses for how to improve treatments.  Such hypotheses might include approaches for improved bioengineering of T cells, or the potential identification of new immune checkpoints, etc.  While this characteristic gives cancer immunotherapy a very bright future, it also means that finding technologies that can rapidly and inexpensively validate or negate such hypotheses is an urgent and rapidly expanding need

We welcome primary research and review content relating to how lab-on-a-chip technologies can be developed to address these and related challenges for inclusion in a thematic collection in Lab on a Chip focused on immuno-engineering and immuno-therapy. This collection is now open for submissions and we are looking for submissions into 2020.

Please note that all submitted manuscripts will be subject to peer review in accordance with the journal’s normal standards.

Lab on a Chip publishes 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.

We have compiled a collection of recent papers and reviews published in Lab on a Chip on this topic. These articles can be read at rsc.li/immunotherapy and are available free to access* until the 15th November 2019. A couple of highlights from this collections are shown below.

Graphical Abstract from Segaliny, Zhao, et al., 2018 (DOI: 10.1039/C8LC00818C)


Functional TCR T cell screening using single-cell droplet microfluidics

Aude I. Segaliny, Weian Zhao, et al.

 

MATE-Seq: microfluidic antigen-TCR engagement sequencing

Alphonsus H. C. Ng, James R. Heath et al.

 

If you’re interested in contributing to this collection,

please contact the Lab on a Chip Editorial Office.

 

 

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Wearable-Implantable Sensors Thematic Collection-open for submissions

We are very pleased to announce a new Thematic Collection on Wearable and Implantable sensors!

Cover Image from 10.1039/C7LC00914C

Cover image for 10.1039/C7LC00914C

A ‘super-team’ of Lab on a Chip authors (10.1039/c7lc00914c) recently wrote, “Wearable sensing technology has recently and rapidly moved from largely a vision of science fiction to a wide array of established consumer and medical products. This explosion of wearable sensors can be attributed to several factors, such as affordability and ergonomics provided by advances in miniaturized electronics, the proliferation of smart-phones and connected devices, a growing consumer desire for health awareness, and the unmet need for doctors to continuously obtain medical quality data from their patients.”

Following this, we at Lab on a Chip have been inspired to create an Editors’ Choice collection highlighting some of our favourite recent papers in the area and to also seek more contributions in this area. The collection will feature a series of papers that address aspects of the issues involved in creating wearable or implantable sensors and their applications for diagnostics, medicine and therapeutics, health awareness and other novel applications.

Below is a selection of content highlights featured in the collection so far. In addition, all papers are free to read until 31st October 2019*.

Wearable sensors: modalities, challenges, and prospects

J. Heikenfeld, A. Jajack, J. Rogers, P. Gutruf, L. Tian, T. Pan, R. Li, M. Khine, J. Kim, J. Wang and J. Kim

 

Flexible plastic, paper and textile lab-on-a chip platforms for electrochemical biosensing

Anastasios Economou, Christos Kokkinos and Mamas Prodromidis

 

Microfluidic neural probes: in vivo tools for advancing neuroscience

Joo Yong Sim, Jae-Woong Jeong, et al.

 

Passive sweat collection and colorimetric analysis of biomarkers relevant to kidney disorders using a soft microfluidic system

Yi Zhang, John A. Rogers, et al.

 

Complete validation of a continuous and blood-correlated sweat biosensing device with integrated sweat stimulation

A Hauke, J. Heikenfeld, et al.

 

Interested in submitting to the collection?

We are interested in contributions of review and research articles in this area and this collection is now open for submissions into 2020. If you’re interested in contributing to this collection, please contact the Editorial Office.

*Access is free through an RSC account (free to register)

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We are delighted to announce that Hang Lu is the 2019 winner of the “Pioneers of Miniaturization” Lectureship!

The 14th “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.

The 2019 “Pioneers of Miniaturization” Lectureship will be presented to Professor Lu at the µTAS 2019 Conference in Basel, Switzerland, being held on 27-31 October 2019. Professor Lu will receive a certificate, a monetary award and will give a short lecture during the conference.

Many congratulations to Professor Hang Lu on this achievement from the Lab on a Chip Team!

About the Winner

Professor Hang Lu is the Love Family Professor, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA.

Professor Lu earned her PhD in Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA in 2003. After a postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Cornelia I. Bargmann, at University of California San Francisco and the Rockefeller University, she was appointed as an Assistant Professor at School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology.

In recognition of her outstanding achievements, Professor Lu has received numerous awards and international recognition, including being invited to join Board of Directors, Chemical and Biological Microsystems Society, invited to present at the Nobel Symposium on Microfluidics (2017) and the National Academy of Sciences’ Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposia (2014, 2012, 2009), awarded the ACS Analytical Chemistry Young Innovator Award, Chemical and Biological Microsystems Society (2013), Council of Systems Biology in Boston (CSB2) Prize in Systems Biology (2011), a National Science Foundation CAREER award (2010), an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship (2009), a DARPA Young Faculty Award (2007), a DuPont Young Professor Award (2006), the Saville Lectureship of Princeton University (2013), the H. C. Van Ness Award Lectures of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2011), and is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and  a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She has authored more than 140 peer-reviewed publications and has served on the Editorial Board of Lab on a Chip as Associate Editor since 2017. She is currently the director of the Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Program, and the associate director of the NSF-Simons Foundation supported Southeast Center for Mathematics and Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Professor Lu has pioneered the use of microfluidic systems for imaging and performing genetic studies with small organisms, primarily the nematode C. elegans. In a series of studies published since 2008 she established a set of technologies to streamline imaging, phenotyping, and sorting of C. elegans based on features that are difficult to distinguish and discern by human eyes. The throughput of these technologies were often 1,000 times that of conventional approaches. Professor Lu’s technology has enable faster and more accurate experiments and revolutionized how genetic screens and high-content imaging experiments are done currently in other scientists’ labs. In parallel, her lab has also engineered micro systems for high-content experiments with cells, aggregates, organoids, and embryos to extract high-dimensional information for systems biology studies.

The Lu group performs research at the interface of engineering and biology. They engineer automated microfluidic systems, microscopy tools, and image imformatic technologies to address questions in neuroscience, cell biology, and biotechnology that are difficult to answer using conventional techniques. Applied to the study of fundamental biological questions, these new techniques allow the Lu group to gather large-scale quantitative data about complex systems.

Learn about the Lu group online

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Pioneers of Miniaturization Lectureship 2019: Open for Nominations

Lab on a Chip and Dolomite are proud to sponsor the fourteenth 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 2019 Conference in Basel, Switzerland with the recipient receiving a prize of US$2,000.

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 2019 µTAS Conference

 

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the lectureship, candidates must:

  • Have completed their PhD
  • Be actively pursuing an independent research career on miniaturised systems.
  • Be at an early-mid career stage of their independent career (typically this will be within 15 years of completing their PhD, but appropriate consideration will be given to those who have taken a career break or followed a different study path).

Nomination process

To be considered for the 2019 lectureship, the following must be sent to the Editorial Office

  • A letter of recommendation 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 complete nomination form (includes list of the candidate’s relevant publications or recent work, candidate’s scientific CV, and full contact details)
  • Nominations from students and self-nominations are not permissible.

Selection criteria and judging process

  • Nominations must be made via email to loc-rsc@rsc.org using the Dolomite/Lab on a Chip Pioneers of Miniaturization Lectureship nomination form and a letter of recommendation.
  • The decision on the winner of the lectureship will be made by a panel of judges comprising a representative from Dolomite and members from the Lab on a Chip Editorial Board, coordinated by the Executive Editor of Lab on a Chip.
  • 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.

Nomination Deadline: 31 May, 2019

Extended deadline : 15th June, 2019 

Download nomination form here

Previous Winners

  • 2018: Professor Sunghoon Kwon, Seoul National University, South Korea
  • 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

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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Organ-on-a-Chip systems-translating concept into practice Thematic Collection

We are pleased to announce a new Thematic Collection on Organ-on-a-Chip systems, translating concept into practice!

The first collection of papers on “Organ-body-and disease-on-a-Chip” collection has proved to be popular with the community. The collection has given this emerging field an identity and an effective venue for others to learn of the breadth, depth, and importance of this emerging area. We are delighted to announce that Michael Shuler (Cornell University, USA) will be acting as Thought Leader this follow-up collection.

We believe that a second collection highlighting efforts to translate this concept into practice would be valuable. While proof-of-concept papers for potential devices remains important, there has been significant progress in the last two years towards addressing the practical issues of translating these concepts into workable systems that will be adopted by industry and approved by regulators. While pharmaceuticals remain the primary target, it is clear that these devices will play important roles in the cosmetic, food, and chemical industries.

For regulatory approval and industrial adoption these devices need to be simple (easy to run by a technician), largely self-contained, low cost, reliable, incorporate advanced analytical techniques, and have efficient software to convert measurements into predictions of human response. Some of the initial proof-of-concept devices are too complicated and hence costly to be implemented industrially.  For an academic paper a lab can afford to have a high failure rate of systems as long as sufficient systems function to provide a robust data set.  For an industrial setting a high success rate will be necessary for adoption.  Automation of devices and efficient data collection and interpretation will be necessary for systems to have a broad impact and reduce labour costs.  Although much of the industrial data are proprietary, it should be possible to take historical cases where a drug candidate was approved and then withdrawn from the market due to toxicity and determine if the failure of the drug could have been anticipated from studies with a microphysiological (MPS) system.  Such examples could provide a compelling rationale for inclusion of MPS systems particularly in the later stages of the preclinical drug development process.

A series of papers that address aspects of the issues involved in moving from “proof-of-principle” devices to systems that can be routinely incorporated into testing of drugs, cosmetics, food ingredients, and chemicals would be valuable to the development of the field of microphysiological systems. We seek contributions that will help us fulfill this goal.

Lab on a Chip publishes the best work on significant and original work related to minia-turisation, 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.

Extraordinarily novel organ-on-a-chip systems that demonstrate unique new functions are also welcome.

Interested in submitting to the collection? 

We welcome submissions of original research articles and reviews to this collection and the collection is open for submissions.

Articles will be published as they are accepted and added to this online collection. They will receive extensive promotion throughout the submission period and as a complete collection.

If you are interested in submitting to the series, please get in touch with the Lab on a Chip Editorial Office at loc-rsc@rsc.org.

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Lab on a Chip Thematic Collections

We’ve brought together all of our latest Lab on a Chip Article Collections, Themed Issues, and Editor’s Choice collections to enable you to easily navigate to content most relevant to you. We hope you enjoy reading the papers in these collections!

Ongoing Collections

Thematic Collections

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Art in Science Competition Winner and runners up announced at MicroTAS 2019

Lab on a Chip and the National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST) presented the Art in Science award at the µTAS 2019 Conference on the 30th October 2019 at the Lab on a Chip/Royal Society of Chemistry booth. The award highlights the aesthetic value in scientific illustrations while still conveying scientific merit. The competition received many fantastic submissions this year which were judged by Jeanne Andres, Lab on a Chip Executive Editor, Greg Cooksey, NIST representative and Hang LuLab on a Chip Associate Editor .

Greg Cooksey and Maria Southall (Lab on a Chip Deputy Editor) announced the winner of the competition was Joesph de Rutte (UCLA) with his entry “A Cell’s World” and presented Mr de Rutte with his award and certificate.

A Cell’s World  

Joseph de Rutte, UCLA, USA

Fluorescent image of uniform droplets formed using structured microparticles. Fluorescently labeled particles are suspended in a water solution and agitated with oil and surfactant. This platform is used to encapsulate single-cells and measure their secretions.
Fluorescent image of uniform droplets formed using structured microparticles. Fluorescently labeled particles are suspended in a water solution and agitated with oil and surfactant. This platform is used to encapsulate single-cells and measure their secretions.
Greg Cooksey (NIST), Joseph de Rutte (UCLA, winner) and Maria Southall (Lab on a Chip)
Left to right: Greg Cooksey (NIST), Joseph de Rutte (UCLA, winner) and Maria Southall (Lab on a Chip)

The runners up are:

Laura Barillas, Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP), Germany
MicroQuasar – Laura Barillas, Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP), Germany
Sensing in Three-Dimensions
Sensing in Three-Dimensions – Michael Restaino, University of Maryland, USA
Stars and Diamonds made out of bone cells
Stars and Diamonds made out of bone cells – Charlotte Yvanoff, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

 

A big thank you to all the contributors this year!

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MicroTAS 2019 Student Mixer

Written by Darius Rackus

Do you know which country has an airport with an IATA code of “OMG”? How about when the most recent Swiss canton joined the Swiss Confederacy? Or do you know where the article first describing a miniaturized total analysis system was published? For trivia boffins and scientists in microfluidics, these were the types of questions asked at the third annual student mixer at the International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences (microTAS).

For the past three years, microTAS has been hosting networking events for postgraduate students and female faculty. This year, students were invited to a pub quiz where they could not only test their trivia knowledge but also meet peers from different labs and different countries.

Over 200 students showed up for the night, and at least 150 participated in the quiz. The one rule given was that teams had to include students from at least two different countries and students were quick to form very diverse teams. The winning team had students representing Switzerland, China, Japan, and Israel. While there was lots of Swiss chocolate to be won, the main benefit was making new connections, which can sometimes be daunting at large international conferences.

The event was hosted by the Chemical and Biological Miniaturization Society (CBMS) and prizes were sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the journal Analytical Chemistry (ACS), and Dolomite. The winning team took home microfluidics-branded hoodies and 400 g each of fine Swiss chocolate. Of course, winning isn’t everything and networking events like this are great opportunities for connecting early career researchers. Hopefully this will continue to be a fixture of future microTAS conferences.

MicroTAS student mixer. Photo credit: André Kling

For the curious, the answers to the questions are a) Namibia (Omega Airport), b) Canton Jura was formed and joined in 1979, and c) Manz, Graber and Widmer coined the term “µTAS” in their 1990 Sensors and Actuators B publication


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

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Emerging Investigators Series – Ye Ai

 

Dr. Ye Ai is currently an Associate Professor at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). He obtained his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology (China) in 2005 and his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Old Dominion University (USA) in 2011. Prior to joining SUTD as an assistant professor in 2013, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Bioscience Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory from June 2011 to January 2013. He was a visiting scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from August 2014 to July 2015. He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in September 2019. Dr. Ai’s research interest focuses on developing novel microfluidic technologies for particle/cell manipulation and single cell analysis. His research team is also striving to translate their innovative microfluidic technologies to commercial market through collaborations with industry.

Read Dr Ai’s recent Emerging Investigator Series paper: Microfluidic impedance cytometry device with N-shaped electrodes for lateral position measurement of single cells/particles in the most recent issue of Lab on a Chip, and find out more about him and his work below.

 

 

  1. Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on measuring the lateral position of single cells or particles. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

My first research article when I was a PhD student was to develop a finite element model with dynamically deformed mesh that can simulate the transient motion of finite-size particles in microscale fluid flows. My PhD research mainly focused on electrokinetics for manipulating particles, cells and ions in micro/nanoscale. My postdoctoral training at the Bioscience Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory exposed me to a lot of biological problems, in particular the need in high-throughput cellular analysis at the single cell level. My previous research experience has somehow shaped my current research focus into single cell manipulation and analysis using novel microfluidic technologies when I become an independent principal investigator in Singapore.

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

I am most excited to apply our developed microfluidic technologies for solving real biomedical problems and enabling new biological studies. As an example, in 2017 my team published our single cell sorting technology using a highly focused acoustic beam in Lab Chip (DOI: 10.1039/c7lc00678k). Later, I was approached by quite a number of research teams worldwide who wanted to try our sorting technology. These email communications have encouraged me to apply our developed prototype for real biomedical problems. Right now, I have established collaboration with a few biomedical research institutes in Singapore and we have found that our sorting technology is not causing any cell damage, which is however challenging for conventional FACS machine. We currently have the idea to commercialize this single cell sorting technology. Let us see what is going to happen in the next few years.

  1. In your opinion, what are the key considerations when designing a microfluidic platform for real-time measurements?

My research team is currently developing both hydrodynamic and acoustic cell sorting platforms. The conventional way to quantify the sorting performance (e.g. purity and recovery) is to run additional cell analysis of collected samples, typically using a flow cytometer. In this work (DOI: 10.1039/c9lc00819e), we designed and validated a new impedance cytometry device that enables the measurement of the lateral positions and physical properties of individual particles and cells. The integration of this new device with any cell sorting platform will allow the evaluation of the sorting performance to be implemented in the same system.

The key consideration of integrating these real-time measurements really depends on whether there is a critical need. But I do see a lot of sorting applications need these real-time, in-line measurements for the purposes of quality control and workflow simplification. And any integration will somehow complicate the system and increase the cost, so the other key consideration is the ease of integration. Integration of electronics is generally easier compared to optics, and we are measuring intrinsic biophysical properties rather than labelling approaches; therefore, I do see great opportunities to integrate our new impedance cytometry device with a variety of cell sorting platforms.

  1. What do you find most challenging about your research?

The microfluidics and Lab on a chip research area is interdisciplinary in nature. My challenge is always to find the right people (e.g. students, postdoctoral fellows, collaborators) and secure sufficient resources to work on real impactful research problems.

  1. How do you spend your spare time?

I am trying to make a balance between work and personal life, so I mainly spend my spare time with my family members, especially my second kid is only 8 months old. I also spend some of my spare time to do physical exercise, which can help relax and leave some time for free thinking.

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

I rarely thought about this before. Perhaps I would choose to be a doctor.

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

Based on my own experience, it is important to define a unique research domain based on your own expertise and the surrounding research ecosystem when early career scientists start their independent research. It is also wise to have a clear vision about what you want to achieve in the next five years.

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What are the challenges to sample-in-answer-out technologies in clinical settings?

The boom in microfluidic total analysis systems is spurred by the use of microscale fabrication techniques. In 1999, Agilent Technologies introduced a coin-size device called “LabChip” to the market for the analysis of DNA. The timing of the market release of this device was remarkable as it benefited from the hype of the Human Genome Project. The LabChip has drawn considerable attention from both academia and industry. As a result, the shrink of chemistry labs into coin-sized microfluidic devices has evolved more from technological push than from market pull. Technology-driven development pathway brought challenges, especially for the clinical integration of microfluidic devices due to the lack of standards, focus, and communication between academia and clinics.

A recent Lab on a Chip paper from Martyn Boutelle’s Lab addresses this issue. The authors identify the problem from a well-addressed microdialysis perspective. They state that “taking a microfluidic system into clinical environment brings lots of challenges, not least that during setups and developments the very low the flow rates used in combination with microdialysis means that leaks and misdirection of flows are very hard to see.” The authors define the most significant challenge as the development of a device that’s robust enough to be used by and provide enough information to, the clinical team without micromanagement by experts.

The authors attack the problem by creating a sensor-based online system associated with electrochemical measurement, which would be able to analyze the sample in a miniaturized platform continuously. They developed the microfluidic sensors and chip, but they wanted to increase the use of their technology in real-world scenarios by non-experts, so they looked into ways to introduce more precision and control to the platform. The authors combined their technology with LabSmith microfluidic components and constructed breadboard like layouts for typical lab protocols. The authors add that “the main surprise was the ability to bring the rigor of an analytical laboratory into unusual places such as abattoirs, surgical theatres and public transport!”

In this work and the previous work of the authors, the performance of 3-D printed chips was compared to the PDMS ones. The authors found that PDMS material is much more vulnerable than the 3D print outs when frequently handled. The sensor attached to the chip is programmed to calibrate in regular intervals (e.g., every three hours) in single or multiphase flow conditions. Authors describe the advantage of the system that ”remote access to the scripts allows interaction with the system without the requirement of a highly skilled person being right next to it, which in the context of surgical theatres and hospital wards is a distinct advantage. If the codes and scripts are available to less skilled personnel, they are still able to interact and use the system and by making the system more user-friendly a wider audience and more enthusiasm is generated for the product, increasing interest, uptake, and use.”

The authors would like to improve the platform further by making it wearable since it already has grounds for such an operation with wireless sensors. The next thing to be improved in the system is the feed. At this moment, the syringes have to be regularly refilled. This might not be a problem in the laboratory; however, monitoring can last for days in a clinical setting, and periodically refilling the syringes may lead to noise artifacts. Another improvement could be the ease of operation and troubleshooting when, e.g., a tubing becomes blocked in the middle of the measurement when the user is short on space and time.

Lastly, the authors think that this pioneering platform can help shape the future in the market by giving more people access to an area of science that was previously highly skilled, whilst maintaining analytical robustness. This will be the start to break the barrier between academia-made devices and clinical settings.

 

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

Clinical translation of microfluidic sensor devices: focus on calibration and analytical robustness

Sally A. N. Gowers, Michelle L. Rogers, Marsilea A. Booth, Chi L. Leong, Isabelle C. Samper, Tonghathai Phairatana, Sharon L. Jewell, Clemens Pahl, Anthony J. Strong and Martyn G. Boutelle, Lab Chip, 2019, Lab on a Chip Hot Articles

DOI: 10.1039/C9LC00400A

*access is free with an RSC account (free to register)

 

About the Webwriter

Burcu Gumuscu is a researcher in Mesoscale Chemical Systems Group at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Her research interests include the 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.

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Emerging Investigators Series – Jacqueline Linnes

Dr. Jacqueline Linnes is an Assistant Professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University. She received her B.S. in Engineering from the Purdue University and Ph.D. in Biongineering from the University of Washington. She was a Fogarty Postdoctoral Fellow at the Division of Global Health Equity within Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School and continued her postdoctoral training at Boston University in Biomedical Engineering. She has received numerous awards including the Mandela Fellows Global Innovation Challenge Award (2017), Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Finalist (2018), and Marta E. Gross Assistant Professorship of Biomedical Engineering (2018).

Dr. Linnes’s research lab develops real-time detection technologies to prevent, diagnose, and better understand the pathogenesis of diseases. This work emphasizes the translation of fundamental microfluidics and biological assays into point-of-care diagnostics using human-centered design principles. Her extensive experience in translational research includes co-founding and managing early-stage field-testing and user feedback for two startup companies. She has co-developed point-of-care health diagnostics, wearable devices, and water purification technologies for use in the US, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Kenya, Zambia, and Haiti.

Read Dr Linnes’s Emerging Investigator article “Microfluidic Rapid and Autonomous Analytical Device (microRAAD) to Detect HIV from Whole Blood Samples” and find out more about her in the interview below.

 

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on detecting HIV using a microRAAD. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

As a PhD student, I published on the causes of bacterial adhesion to proteins adsorbed to medical devices (in 2012). These infections are incredibly difficult to detect and I found that I didn’t want to just study the causes of infections but to develop the diagnostic tools themselves. I now use the molecular biology and surface analysis skills that I developed in my PhD to create point-of-care diagnostic devices in my own lab. A critical shift in my thinking came when I realized that both the technical skills and the problem solving mindset that I learned in my PhD research were transferable to entirely different fields. In my two postdocs, I worked on Global Health projects ranging from infection control to point-of-care diagnostic devices.  Now in my own research lab, we focus on developing, integrating and automating real-time detection technologies including point-of-care diagnostics and wearable devices, to meet the needs of underserved populations. This article is an example of a sample-to-answer test we developed to automate molecular detection of a pathogen (HIV) from whole blood sample at the point-of-care.

 

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

I started my lab in 2015 with the vision that we could automate molecular detection in point-of-care diagnostics, so that the dvices could be used by anyone, anywhere in the world. I love that we have pulled together individuals with expertise in so many different fields from materials science, to electrical engineering, to molecular biology in order to make this technology work. A huge contingent of my lab and Dr. Stanciu’s lab, and at all levels, from undergraduate researchers to PhD’s have contributed to this project. Now we are bringing in more expertise in translational clinical research. I am currently in Kenya and just handed over a batch of these microRAADs to my colleague, Dr. Eddy Odari at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Dr. Odari will be testing the MicroRAADs using real patient samples and I can’t wait to find out the results.

 

In your opinion, what is the biggest advantage to using your microRAAD compared to other methods of detecting HIV?

I know there’s still a ways to go, but I believe that the microRAAD platform will ultimately bridge the gap between laboratory-based molecular detection instruments and truly point-of-care diagnosis of HIV in the field.

 

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Designing technologies sample-to-answer molecular diagnostics that are both highly sensitive and remain robust and accessible to the clinicians, technicians, and patients who need them is incredibly challenging. In my lab, we find it critical to test out our ideas and prototypes via formal and informal usability studies to understand what can be done practically in the field settings that they are designed for. We redesign anything that isn’t actually usable in the real world.

 

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

I am at the 4th Africa International Biotechnology and Biomedical Conference in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya, and this October I will be attending the 2019 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, USA, and the 2019 MicroTAS conference in Basel, Switzerland.

 

How do you spend your spare time?

I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old so “spare time” is perhaps an overstatement, but we spend a lot of time outdoors at parks and playgrounds and my husband and I built a tree house in our backyard this summer.

 

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

That’s a tough one. I love my job as a biomedical engineering faculty member. I do think it would be fantastic to work at a science museum developing and building exhibits and outreach activities.

 

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

Don’t underestimate the power that people play in your research. Play well with others, find a place that supports you in your efforts, seek out excellent employees and mentees, and make sure to invest in their development and in your own. Whenever possible, work directly with the people that you ultimately want to use your technology. It is both incredibly motivating and absolutely critical to making an impact that reaches beyond the confines of your own lab.

Dr Jacqueline Linnes

Dr Jacqueline Linnes (Picture credit: Purdue University photo/Rebecca Wilcox)

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