"Microfluidic Homeostasis – Tapping in the Circulatory System One Cell at a Time"
Abraham Lee, Ph.D.
William J. Link Professor and Chair
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of California, Irvine
Through the advancement of microfluidics technologies, we have enabled the automation of biological fluids delivery through physiological vasculature networks that mimic the physiological circulation of the human body. The critical bottleneck is to engineer the microenvironment for the formation of 3D tissues and organs and to also pump and perfuse the tissue vascular network for on-chip microcirculation. On the other hand, microfluidics play an important role in the recent advances in liquid biopsy, an emerging technique that analyzes biological samples such as blood for the detection of biomolecules or cells that are indicative of disease or physiological state. Specifically, liquid biopsy has become a promising technology to isolate and target rare cells such as circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in body fluids thanks to many of these microfluidic cell sorting techniques. This advent of microfluidic liquid biopsy provides an in vitro snap shot into the patient’s physiological status via the in vivo circulation that enables one to monitor disease state and progression for diagnosis and prognosis. A key bottleneck is to identify the critical subpopulation of cells, often at single cell resolution among billions of cells in circulation. Along with the aforementioned in vitro on-chip perfused vascularized tissue platforms, these two technologies go hand-in-hand to connect in vitro screening to in vivo screening with great potential in the development of personalized medicine. Ultimately this is the microfluidic maintenance of physiological equilibrium, or ‘microfluidic homeostasis’.
Abraham (Abe) P. Lee is the William J. Link Professor and Chair of the Biomedical Engineering (BME) Department with a courtesy appointment in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at the University of California, Irvine. He is the Director of the NSF I/UCRC “Center for Advanced Design & Manufacturing of Integrated Microfluidics” (CADMIM). Prior to UCI, he was at the National Cancer Institute and a program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office at DARPA (1999-2001). Lee’s lab focuses on developing active integrated microfluidics and droplet microfluidic platforms. These platforms are applied to point-of-care and molecular diagnostics, “smart” nanomedicine for early detection and treatment, single cell processing and analysis, and tissue engineering and cell-based therapeutics. His research has contributed to the founding of several start-up companies. Lee serves as an associate editor for the Lab on a Chip journal and he is also an advisor to companies and government agencies. He owns 42 issued US patents and is author of over 100 journals articles. Lee was awarded the 2009 Pioneers of Miniaturization Prize and is an elected fellow of the American Institute of and Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
The Bioengineering Seminar Series is co-hosted by the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.