BME Leadership Seminar: Mini-Guts on Microchips
Nancy L. Allbritton, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The ability to monitor and manipulate the microenvironment of cells and tissues is one of the most promising applications for microengineered systems. The laboratory is developing a suite of technologies based on microengineered platforms and microfluidics to manipulate and analyze living cells particularly targeting cells of the intestine. We have developed simple, inexpensive fabrication methods utilizing photoresists, plastics, and hydrogels for cell-based arrays, organ-on-chips, and tissue scaffolds. The fabricated devices include detachable, deformable, or biodegradable array elements designed for cell analysis and sorting. A second focus area exploits recent advances in mating living cells with microfabricated systems making it possible to create miniaturized devices with organ level function. These “organ-on-a-chip” platforms enable the controlled establishment of multicellular tissue-like cell populations from pluripotent cells.
Dr. Allbritton is the Kenan Professor and Chair of the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and North Carolina State University (NC State). She obtained her B.S. in physics from Louisiana State University, her Ph.D. in Medical Physics/Medical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. Upon completion of a postdoctoral fellowship in cell biology at Stanford University, she joined the faculty of the University of California at Irvine in 1994 where she held joint appointments in the Departments of Physiology and Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering & Materials Science. She is a Fellow in the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering and the AAAS. She is also a member of the National Academy of Inventors and recipient of the 2016 ACS Award in Chemical Instrumentation. Dr. Allbritton’s research studies, described in over 160 publications, are directed at the development of new technologies by bringing to bear methods from engineering, chemistry, physics and biology to address biomedical problems. This research program has been heavily funded by the National Institutes of Health with over $56 M in grant funding since 1994. Dr. Allbritton is the scientific founder of three companies, Protein Simple (now a part of Bio-Techne), Cell Microsystems, and Altis Biosystems and has 12 issued patents with >9 more pending.