In this project, Schultz and his company will create the microfluidic devices. Rafael Davalos, L. Preston Wade professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics, will design and test the devices in his laboratory, the Bioelectromechanical Systems Laboratory.
Davalos and his students will design the microfluidic devices for a number of applications, ranging from the isolation of rare cells to modeling the blood-brain barrier.
Josie Duncan, a doctoral student in the Davalos lab and originally from Charlotte, will participate in research to test the properties of the device that allow particles to be manipulated using electrical frequencies. Microfluidics allows researchers to test things at the cell scale, which increases precision and miniaturizes the process, resulting in a smaller footprint and lower cost, Duncan said.
âI am delighted to be part of the pioneer of a new 3D printing method designed specifically for microfluidics,â said Duncan, who received his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech. “I have high hopes for the innovative designs we can create now that 3D structures are achievable.”
Edward Jacobs, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, also a doctoral student at the Davalos lab, will test for the blood brain barrier. This semi-permeable border of endothelial cells presents a significant obstacle in the development of drugs to treat brain cancer. Together, Jacobs and Davalos aim to demonstrate the ability to incorporate endothelial cells from a human brain – monolayer cells that line blood vessels and regulate exchange between surrounding vessels and tissues – into a microfluidic device to mimic the barrier. .
“The integration of diagnostic or electrical devices into 3D printed microfluidic devices has the potential to expand the possibilities of chip design and, in turn, open the door to new applications that were not possible.” previously in 2D structures, âDavalos said. âChanging the way these tools are created could open up new avenues of research and new discoveries. ”