NSF Summer Institute on Nano Mechanics
and Materials

NSF Fellowship
Travel Directions
Foundational Interrogation Modalities and Novel Applications Forged at the Intersection of Micro/Nanotechnology and Medicine
Chih-Ming Ho (UCLA)
Yu-Chong Tai (Caltech)
Dean Ho (Northwestern University)

Guest Lecturers:
Mike Teitell (UCLA)
Yong Chen (UCLA)

Program Outline

July 16-19, 2007


Nature has evolved and perfected systemic architectures including membrane proteins, signaling molecules, and genetic materials, that drive the processes of life. These elements coalesce and culminate towards an elegant coordination of sensors and actuators that make up a single cell. Advances in the development of modalities, both fundamental in nature and application-specific, to benefit the human condition will rely on the ability to precisely manipulate cellular components, and ultimately the cell itself to interrogate its internal functional mechanisms.

Conventional micro/nanofabrication techniques have formulated a framework upon which a spectrum of devices have been realized that enable unprecedented biological interrogation capabilities in several areas including 1) Sensing in the form of chip-based ELISA, electrochemical, and optical detection; 2) Processing in the form of micro/nanofluidics and hydrodynamic, electrokinetic, and dielectrophoretic mixing/manipulation; as well as 3) Bio-monitoring in the form of cellular electro-probing (micro/nanoelectrodes), mechano-transduction (e.g. cantilever-based), as well as smart Petri dish technology. This foundation will forge the blending of a myriad of advanced techniques to empower highly sophisticated, fundamental bio-interrogation studies to better understand that mechanisms that drive cellular behavior. This enhanced knowledge will further catalyze the advent of unprecedented cell control capabilities for directed genotypic and phenotypic outcomes towards therapeutic relevance in the areas of neuroscience, cancer, stem cell biology, immunity, and beyond.

Topics addressed through the short course will guide the attendee from the initial phases of micro/nanosystem development towards the current trends in advanced micro/nanotechnologies for biologically-relevant applications. In addition, key areas in biology and medicine that would benefit from these technologies to catalyze clinical translation will be assessed. Professor Yu-Chong Tai will provide an introduction and overview of microfabrication modalities including conventional lithography, etching, and deposition processes. These technologies and modalities serve as a core framework upon which a broad range of powerful devices can be fabricated for microsystem-inspired advances from the fundamental to application-specific aspects of biologically/medically-relevant research. Professor Tai will then provide an overview of devices that catalyzed the initial trend toward small-scale technologies, as well as current devices that are changing the capabilities of modern medicine. As such, Professor Tai will also present the suite of devices pioneered by his group including the chip-based high performance liquid chromatography systems for molecular processing, micro/nanofabricated filtration devices for cell sorting and cancer screening, as well as parylene-based neural electrodes for in vivo chronic stimulation/sensing applications which resist biological fouling. Scaling down from the microscale to the nanoscale, Professor Chih-Ming Ho will examine the importance of being able to manipulate, characterize, and detect biological species of interest in a chip-based format for novel medical applications that fuse biology, nanotechnology, and informatics. These technologies enable the manipulation of fluids, proteins, and cells to study fundamental biological phenomena including single DNA strand folding and unfolding associated with exposed sheer stress, chip-based diagnostics using DNA-functionalized quantum dots for optical detection, ssDNA-functionalized microfabricated electrodes for the electrochemical detection of single nucleotide polymorphisms and bacterial presence, as well as smart Petri dish-mediated cellular regulation for directed pheno/genotypic responses. The fruition of these techniques will provide unprecedented levels of insight into the nature of cyto-regulatory pathway crosstalk that affects every aspect of cellular function, including cellular differentiation, mechano-sensation, and infection. This knowledge will in turn serve as a powerful weapon against the major medical challenges of this generation that include cancer, as well as a host of infectious diseases. Professor Yong Chen will then provide an overview of how novel nanofabrication and manufacturing methods can be employed to produce one-dimensional nanostructures such as nanowires (NW) and nanotubes (NT) for detection purposes. These devices possess high surface area to volume ratios, which are properties that present these devices as optimal candidates to push the boundaries of current detection performance metrics. Professor Chen will guide the attendees from the initial fabrication processes to the characterization of device function. Professor Mike Teitell will present the opportunities for clinical/advanced diagnostic translation of current technologies being used to monitor real-time signal transduction kinetics and strength. In addition, Professor Teitell will address the importance of applying microscopy studies using cellular membrane nanomirrors to monitor structural changes associated with tumor malignancy. This will be particularly valuable towards applying conventional AFM techniques as modalities for the diagnosis of cell states based on morphological/biophysical analysis. Professor Dean Ho will then continue by assessing the development of novel block copolymer-based materials as multi-functional, medically-significant devices for applications in drug delivery. and 2) Functional nanomaterial development for bio-interfacial studies at the intersection of biology and non biology. Comprehensive investigation of internal cyto-regulatory network activity in response to cellular interfacing with artificial materials will generate significant implications towards disease therapeutics and fundamental cell signaling studies. Furthermore, this information will serve as a foundation for transitioning experimental materials and devices towards in vivo and clinical applications. Novel devices and materials fabricated with emerging methods will offer important capabilities (e.g. controllable effector molecule dosing, dynamic cell substrate actuation/sensing, etc.) for uncovering new insights into cell function.

Course Credit and Pre-requisites
The total number of contact hours for the five day program is 27, and 2.7 CEUs. There are certain pre-requisites for each topic. In order to maximize the learning experience, we will provide course materials to students prior to the class.