Microdevices

Overview

Our research is focused on designing and building hybrid materials and devices. Microscale soft biological constructs, which retain their unique biological functionalities, are being interfaced with robust synthetic components to develop two distinct technologies: (1) Active bionanomaterials and (2) Quantitative pharmacological devices.


Muscle on a chip

Primary Investigator: Anna Grosberg, Ph.D

The “heart on a chip” is a microdevice that encapsulates multiple pieces of laminar muscle for in vitro studies of tissue contractility, structural properties, and electrophysiological function (Grosberg A, et al. “Ensembles of engineered cardiac tissues for physiological and pharmacological study: Heart on a chip.” Lab Chip, 2011). The design of such microdevices will give researches and companies an ability to perform tissue scale in vitro experiments to test their cell’s function and/or the effect of pharmacological agents. We are currently working on integrating the “heart on a chip” with other muscle types including stem-cell derived myocytes. Our design efforts are greatly enhanced by our lab’s variety of tools ranging from an optical mapping system and fluorescent microscopes to access to microfab facilities and the muscular thin film technology.

Anya_HeartOnChipMovie.gif

The movie shows a 6 film “heart on a chip”, blue – flat film outline, red – projection tracking


Higher throughput muscle on a chip

Primary Investigator: Ashutosh Agarwal, Ph.D

We are engineering cardiac and vascular smooth muscle cells into spatially organized microtissues on laser cut sub millimeter sized elastomer thin films and hydrogel thin films to give rise to large scale arrays of ‘Muscular Thin Films’ (MTFs) on a chip. The laser cutting procedure is also being employed to batch produce multiple chips in a reproducible and potentially scalable manner. Finally, these chips are being integrated into microfluidic devices to permit high throughput multiplexed analyses. We envision this in vitro technology to serve as an effective pre-clinical screen and hence greatly shorten the timeline and reduce the costs associated with the development of medical therapeutics and products.


Cardiac valve on a chip

Primary Investigator: Kartik Balachandran, Ph.D

We are also interested in developing combinatory “organ on a chip” devices, and one of our research thrusts in this direction is the development of a valve on a chip. Our objective is to design a valve system with neural input that recapitulates the function of a valve in a scaled down on-chip device. This research thrust is motivated from recent secondary valvulotoxic effects of neurological drugs such as diet pills (Fenfluramine-Phentermine) and anti-depressants. We aim to use this device for high throughput testing of neurological and valve function in response to various pharmacological agents.
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What's New

Farewell Jack! June 16th, 2017

The DBG would like to wish Jack Zhou all the best as he leaves us for his next adventure – Medical School. Congratulations Jack!

The DBG welcomes the Orientation and Reach-Back Training class of the U.S. Army May 22nd, 2017

The DBG had the pleasure of hosting the Orientation and Reach-Back Training (ORBT) training class of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) Field Assistance in Science and Technology (FAST) program on May 17, 2017. ORBT is a multi-week mission overview program for senior-level Army officers, non-commissioned officers and Department of the Army civilians on the mechanisms for identifying and resolving technology capability gaps for units in their area of operation. The class visit to Professor (Lieutenant Colonel, Reserves) Parker’s Lab is their only visit to a Lab outside the Department of Defense.

The class met with DBG veterans and attended presentations on Stronger, Tougher, and Lighter Soldier Protection Systems; Nanofiber Scaffolds for Wound Healing/Dressings; Traumatic Brain Injury – Understanding Disease Mechanisms; Fibrous Scaffolds for Tissue Engineered Foods; Cells as Engineering Materials – the Cyborg Ray Project; Cuttlefish Inspired Camouflage; and our unique program for embedding Artists-In- Residence in the Lab.

Guests included members from the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM); U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC); U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Army Research Laboratory; and RDECOM Research, Development and Engineering Centers.

Pictured below are (clockwise from bottom left): DBG Artist-in- Residence Karaghen Hudson (Harvard Class of 2018); Ms. Valerie Carney (ERDC); Dr. Aimee Poda (ERDC); Dr. (Colonel, Reserves) Steve Hart (RDECOM); Veteran and Program Coordinator John Laursen (Army Retired); Dr. Jerry Ballard (ERDC); Mr. Nathan Frantz (US Army Corps of Engineers); Visiting Scholar and Brigadier General Michael D. Phillips (USA Retired); Dr. Samantha Chambers RDECOM Science Advisor to the XVIII Airborne Corps; and Lieutenant Colonel Jovanna Nelson.

Congratulations to Stephanie Dauth, Ben Maoz, & Sean Sheehy on the cover of the Journal of Neurophysiology May 11th, 2017

Congratulations to our Brain Team for getting the cover of this month’s Journal of Neurophysiology “Neurons derived from different brain regions are inherently different in vitro: A novel multiregional brain-on-a-chip

Close-up image of axons that
have been grown over a 1-mm gap on a microcontact printed PLL/laminin lines connecting the different brain regions

Robotic Stingray wins Gold Medal at Edison Awards! April 25th, 2017

Congratulations to Professor Kit Parker and Sung-Jin Park, Ph.D. who received a gold medal in the engineering category at the Edison Awards for their work on the cyborg stingray.  The Edison Awards honor excellence in new product and service development, marketing, human-centered design and innovation.

 

Photo courtesy of Michael Rosnach

 

Welcome Dr. Cera and Dr. Lee! April 3rd, 2017

The DBG would like to extend a warm welcome to our new postdoctoral fellows, Luca Cera & Keel Yong Lee. Luca comes to us from Berlin, German, where he recently completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Christoph A. Schalley. Keel Yong recently completed his Ph.D. in Prof. Kwanwoo Shin’s lab at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea. We are looking forward to expanding on our past collaborations with him.