Microfluidic System for Investigation of Spatiotemporal Dynamics in Biological Systems
Biological are in a constant state of feedback and response to numerous stimuli. Investigations of the dynamics of response pf cellular processes and early embryonic development through varying electrical potential, scaffolding structure, heat, mechanical stress, and particularly to local chemical environment are important to address many biological and medical issues, such as organism development and cell differentiation, wound healing, atherosclerosis, and cancer metastasis. However, black-box and gray-box approaches to probing and modeling of these systems have been difficult due to the absence of experimental systems to acquire quantitative input/output time series series data. This talk presents the development of a system employing microfluidics to apply precisely localized time varying chemical signals to cells and tissues, and then to quantitatively measure the responses to those inputs. The presentation shows results of using using these systems to investigate calcium signalling in mouse fibroblasts and responses of tissues of early embryos of the frog Xenopus Laevis. I also review the role mechanical engineers in developing some tools for biological research and reflect on future opportunities.