William J. Link Professor and Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Director, Micro/nano Fluidics Fundamentals Focus (MF3) Center
University of California, Irvine
The basic life components (genes, protein, cells) function at critical length scales and the aggregate of these multi-scale reactions enable precise and complex living operations such as the immune response, regulation and adaptation, repair and maintenance, and hierarchical self-assembly. The rapid advancement of microfluidic technology is beginning to enable large-scale and high throughput processing of molecular and cellular operations. An ultimate vision would be to analyze, manipulate, and recapitulate complex physiological processes in chip-scale, microfluidic platforms. These platforms would enable rapid and accurate diagnosis of onset of diseases, monitoring of chronic and high-risk patients, and even relatively healthy people the option to make healthy daily choices (e.g. exercise, stress, etc.). The vast amount of information acquired would match treatments with genomic makeup, and enable personalized medicine, point-of-care diagnostics, and targeted theranostics in wearable, distributable, and field portable platforms. One particular platform, droplet microfluidics can break up the fluid sample into millions of picoliter-sized drops at 1000s/second rates. As a result, a complex fluid can be “digitized” into large numbers of discretized volumes, while enabling accurate mixtures, rapid mixing, and confined constituents for high sensitivity and high SNR detection. Another focus of my lab is in development of microfluidic platforms for sorting and processing of cells and cell-like lipid vesicles. This is motivated by the fact that cells host the most basic molecular functions of life and also form the basic unit of living creatures, the ability to detect, manipulate and sort at the cellular-scale is critical to all aspects of life science and medicine. Cell-like lipid vesicles can mimic specific functions of the biological counterpart in vivo and provide an effective platform for integrating detection and targeted treatment. A more complex microfluidic platform being developed in my lab is a microphyisological system with perfused 3-D vascularized tissue. The immediate application of this platform would be in drug development and drug screening with long-term prospects for larger tissues for regenerative medicine.
Abraham (Abe) P. Lee is the William J. Link Chair and Professor of the Department of Biomedical
Engineering (BME) with a joint appointment in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at the University of California at Irvine in the USA. He also serves as the director of the Micro/nano Fluidics Fundamentals Focus (MF3) Center, a DARPA-industry supported research center currently with more than 10 industrial members. Prior to joining the UCI faculty in 2002, he was with the Office of Technology and Industrial Relations at the National Cancer Institute as a Senior Technology Advisor, and before that he was a program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) (1999-2001). Dr. Lee’s current research is focused on the development of active integrated microfluidics (electrofluidics and acoustic) and droplet microfluidic platforms for the following applications: biosensors to detect environmental and terrorism threats, point-of-care and molecular diagnostics, “smart” nanomedicine for early detection and treatment, automated cell sorting technologies, and tissue engineering and cell-based therapeutics. His research has contributed to the founding of several start-up companies and he also serves as an advisor to companies and government agencies. Dr. Lee served as an editor for the Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems (2004-2009) and is currently the associate editor of the Lab on a Chip journal. He has given more than 100 invited presentations, owns 38 issued US patents and has published over 80 peer-reviewed journals articles. Professor Lee was awarded the 2009 Pioneers of Miniaturization Prize by Corning and Lab on a Chip and is an elected fellow of the American Institute of and Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Dr. Lee received his doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1992 and his bachelor’s degree in Power Mechanical Engineering from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan in 1986.