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Sorting Cells through Magnetic Levitation


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My lab at Stanford works towards the development and application of new technologies that improve our understanding of how cells and biological signatures collectively perform systems-level functions in healthy and diseased states. With respect to technology development, we leverage our background in engineering, magnetics, and nanotechnology to establish various cross-disciplinary platforms that collectively enable us to precisely profile, ‘decode’, and control cells, circulating molecular signals, and their interactions within complex biosystems. With respect to biological applications, we focus on how cellular heterogeneity and various rare molecular signatures drive ensemble-level decision-making, with a special emphasis on cancer early detection. Our goal is to not only provide broadly applicable experimental tools but also to help transform the way how patients are monitored and diagnosed, and to create a new paradigm for understanding, monitoring, and designing systems-level cellular behavior in multicellular organisms.

Our research has led to the first demonstration of magnetic levitation of single cells with broad applications in biology and medicine ( This is an entirely new method for single-cell research and created a new field of investigation for biological systems, setting a new dimension that has yet to be explored. We apply magnetic levitation-based technologies for a wide range of applications in cell sorting, diagnostics, tissue engineering, and high-throughput drug screening.