How do living cells behave when flowing through micro-confinements (think of RBCs, immune cells, and bacteria travelling though blood vessels)? How do tissues respond to spatial confinements, forces, and directional flows involved in various biological processes such as embryogenesis and tumor progression? In this project, you will approach these important biological questions using a bottom-up synthetic biology approach.
While one can venture to study actual living systems, an alternative is to simplify the system itself. The idea behind this project is to use Octanol-assisted Liposome Assembly (OLA)1, a microfluidic liposome-production technology, to produce cell-mimicking vesicles in a highly controlled manner and study their collective behavior when subjected to confined spaces and laminar flows. Using on-chip OLA technique makes it easier to manipulate key system parameters such as the nature of the involved particles (single-emulsions, double-emulsions, liposomes), their rigidity (by tuning surfactant concentration and osmotic pressure), size (5–50 µm), interparticle interactions, etc. Similarly, confinement geometry and flow profiles can be tightly controlled.
Thus, you will investigate how a population of soft microscopic objects respond to diverse flow profiles and boundary conditions. Particularly of interest will be the effects on particle shape and mechanics and possible collective behavior that emerges from this coupling, driven via mechanical perturbations. You will also learn a variety of techniques including soft-lithography, microfluidics, image processing.
This project will be co-supervised by Siddharth Deshpande and Joshua Dijksman, Assistant Professors at PCC. If you are interested in the project and/or have further ideas, please drop us an email (email@example.com) or pass by our lab/office (Helix, 7056).
1. Deshpande, S., Caspi, Y., Meijering, A. E. C. & Dekker, C. Octanol-assisted liposome assembly on chip. Nat. Commun. 7, 10447 (2016).