Microfluidics for 3D tissue engineering and global health diagnostics

Samuel Sia
Molecular and Microscale Bioengineering Laboratory
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University
New York, NY 10027 USA
(Email: ss2735@columbia.edu)

One of the key missions of science and engineering today is to bring powerful developments in instrumentation and engineering to benefit the world’s most vulnerable and underserved populations to achieve social and clinical impact. Simple but robust technologies like microfluidic systems have shown a potential promise. Microfluidic techniques are used for two different applications in our lab: controlling 3D microenvironments of cells and tissues, and for developing low-cost point-of-care diagnostics for use in U.S. and in developing countries. We focus on microvascularization, tumor metastasis, and stem-cell differentiation studies by developing a number of microfluidic techniques as well as the advanced techniques in spatial positioning of cells, extracellular matrix, and growth factors for controlling the 3D microenvironments of cells and tissues to high resolution. Our second major focus is to use the powerful techniques of MEMS and microfluidics to build low-cost handheld devices for performing sophisticated medical diagnostic tests on a small credit card-sized chip. Lab-on-a-chip devices are developed for improving the health of people in developing countries, which require unique and challenging design criteria; for example, low-cost, simple to use, or portable. We are developing new lab-on-a-chip diagnostic devices specifically for use in resource-poor settings such as developing countries. Our lab’s current efforts, in conjunction with partners in industry, public health, and local governments, to develop new rapid diagnostic tests for use in sub-Saharan Africa will be discussed.

Biography of Samuel Sia

Dr. Sia is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. His lab’s current work focuses on using microfluidics for global health diagnostics and for controlling cellular microenvironments in 3D tissues. He obtained his B.S. in biochemistry at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Samuel then obtained his Ph.D. at Harvard University as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellow and National Science and Engineering Council of Canada Fellow, with Peter Kim (located at MIT and the Whitehead Institute); his thesis examined the use of protein design to improve the structural properties of anti-HIV peptide inhibitors. As a Canadian Institute of Health postdoctoral fellow with George Whitesides at Harvard, Samuel worked on a number of projects at the interface of materials science and biology, with a focus on developing simple but powerful microfluidic techniques for biomolecular detection. He is a founder of Claros Diagnostics, a venture capital-backed company that is developing novel point-of-care diagnostics products; its first product on prostate cancer diagnostics obtained European Union regulatory approval. His lab work has been supported by the NIH, NSF, Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, American Heart Association, World Health Organization, and he has been received a young innovator award from MIT Technology Review.