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Research

Our lab's research lies at the interface of biology, engineering, nanotechnology, and medicine. We develop and apply translational micro/nanotechnologies to study cellular heterogeneity and complex biological systems for single cell analysis and precision medicine.  At this unique nexus, we apply key biological principles to design engineering platforms. Our research philosophy is to apply these platforms to fundamentally understand and address the mechanisms of disease (i.e., cancer, infections).  We, for the first time, have demonstrated magnetic levitation of living cells and its application to detect minute differences in densities at the single-cell level.  We apply this unique tool to perform ultra-sensitive density measurements, magnetic blueprinting, imaging, sorting and profiling of millions of cells and rare biological materials in seconds in real-time at a single-cell resolution.  For instance, magnetic levitation technology can sort rare circulating tumor markers and cells from patient whole blood without relying on any markers, tags or antibodies, which cut cross multiple disciplines of magnetics, microfluidics and molecular biology.

Our passion is to bridge the gap between biology, engineering and nanotechnology, to develop simple, inexpensive, easy-to-use, yet, broadly applicable platforms that will change the way in which medicine is practiced as well as how patients are monitored, diagnosed and treated for precision medicine. We apply key biological principles to engineering designs. Interfacing our unique bioengineering platforms with next-generation sequencing technologies, we aim to understand and answer fundamental questions mainly in cancer biology and antibiotic resistance. 

Our focus is to develop new tools and technologies to investigate and fundamentally understand disease and wellness. Our research efforts are summarized as follows: 

  • Creating new tools and technologies to detect and isolate circulating biological signatures, materials and markers from biological fluids (i.e., circulating tumor cells, circulating tumor emboli, exosomes in blood, urine, and saliva).
  • Enabling investigations of these rare biological materials to “decode” the molecular, genetic and proteomics characteristics to better understand the biology of disease, with a special focus on cancer biology and metastasis.
  • Detecting antibiotic susceptibility using magnetic levitation. 
  • Evolving these technologies into the next generation of applications in antibiotic resistance to eradicate biofilms and resistant microorganisms. 
  • Exploring self-assembly of single cells under microgravity conditions for bioprinting, tissue engineering and space applications