Single-cell microfluidic separation and analytical platforms based on biophysical phenotypes
Chair: Keith Williams (ECE, UVA)
Advisor: Nathan Swami (ECE & Chem., UVA)
Rebecca Pompano (Chem. & BME, UVA)
Blanca H. Lapizco-Encinas (BME, RIT)
James P. Landers (Chem. & MAE, UVA)
The complex functional and structural organization of biosystems leads to a degree of heterogeneity of cellular phenotypes. To parse through this heterogeneity, there is the need for platforms for separation and analysis, with single-cell sensitivity, to associate biological function and disease with particular cellular markers. The current state-of-the-art method for this purpose is based on single-cell analysis by flow cytometry, after fluorescent staining for their characteristic cell surface proteins, which is then used to identify and separate cells based on biochemical characteristics. However, there is an increasing recognition that biological processes, such as prediction of cancer metastasis or stem cell differentiation lineage cannot be linked solely to biochemical traits. Hence, there is emerging interest in identifying cells, cellular aggregates and subcellular bodies based on biophysical properties for separation and quantification. These biophysical properties can include: cell size distribution and shape, deformability and electrophysiology-based characteristics. This dissertation seeks to develop device platforms for microfluidic separation and analysis, with single-cell sensitivity, so that the isolated fractions can be utilized for downstream transplant and functional studies.