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Conventional and 3D-printed Microenvironments for Bioanalysis

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Friday, April 1, 2022, 10 am

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Chemical Engineering Research Seminar

Alexandra Ros

Faculty member of the Center for Applied Structural Discovery (CASD) at the Biodesign Institute at ArizonaState University


Microfluidic devices and how they allow to overcome limitations in bioanalytical sciences is one of my major research interests. My lab tackles important analytical challenges through measuring and analyzing key biomolecules and biospecimen with the help of the unique environments microfluidic devices offer. To establish these microenvironments, we are taking advantage of conventional lithography but also high-resolution 3D-printing approaches. In my presentation, I will cover three examples for bioanalysis related to developing novel separation techniques, analyzing constituents of small cellular ensembles and sample delivery approaches for cutting-edge protein crystallography techniques. First, I will introduce a non-intuitive migration mechanism which is induced through the interplay of sub-μm particles with tailored microenvironments. This migration mechanism demonstrates ratchet-like behavior and allows steering of small particles including constituents of cells, such as organelles, in opposing directions therefore inducing an effective separation mechanism. Second, I will introduce our approach to combine laser capture microdissection with microfluidic sample manipulation and subsequent mass-spectrometric assessment. This approach was developed for Bcl-2, a protein involved in apoptosis, and is further expanded to unravel details of the distribution of soluble amyloid-beta species in brain tissue. Third, microfluidic devices and specifically those created through high resolution 3D-printing approaches can also be exploited for novel crystallography techniques. One such technique is serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) with X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs), a powerful new approach to elucidate the structure of complex proteins such as membrane proteins at room temperature. I will demonstrate that microfluidic devices are essential for sample injection and allow to overcome limitations originating from the huge amount of sample wasted in SFX. Our solution constitutes a microfluidic injector facilitating sample laden droplet generation and delivery in synchronization with a pulsed XFEL source for efficient serial crystallography of proteins.


Alexandra Ros is a Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and faculty member of the Center for Applied Structural Discovery (CASD) at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. She received her Diploma in Chemistry from the Ruprecht-Karls University in Heidelberg, Germany, and her Ph.D. from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland. Professor Ros has been interested in microfluidic platforms and their analytical applications, since completing her doctorate. She joined the Biophysics and Nanoscience Group at Bielefeld University, Germany, in 2000 where she followed her interests in microfluidics and biophysics during her post-doctoral training. Since 2001, she served as principle investigator at Bielefeld University, Germany, on several projects investigating migration mechanisms and single cell analysis in the microfluidic format. In 2007, she finished her Habilitation and received the Venia Legendi in Experimental Physics from Bielefeld University.

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