BME Professor Receives NSF Funding to Advance Microfluidic Technology

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Professor Eric Brouzes

Eric Brouzes, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation CBET division entitled, “Physical Principles of Magnetic Extraction from Microfluidic Droplets.” This three-year, $300K award will study the extraction of magnetic beads from microfluidic droplets with the translational goal of developing an efficient way to access genetic information of single cells at high speed.

These droplets are extremely stable, they act as capsules that do not merge with each other unless directed, and can be precisely controlled at high speed. That approach has proven beneficial in many applications, such as the study of the immune system or cancer, and has the potential to revolutionize many biomedical and chemical applications.

The missing capability of the droplet toolbox is the faculty to purify specific molecules from those reactors. Professor Brouzes will address a critical need to understand the fundamental physics phenomena that govern the behavior of those droplets in the presence a magnetic field to achieve this goal.

“In this technology, each droplet carries out a reaction and can then be manipulated at rates as high as several thousands of reactions per second,” said Brouzes. “This research will help increase the pace of discovery by enabling the miniaturization of most laboratory techniques using tiny droplets of water controlled at very high speed into networks of small conduits.”

“Professor Brouzes’ work on droplet microfluid technology exemplifies our progressive approach to engineering-driven medicine,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “I applaud this well-deserved recognition, and look forward to working with him over the next three years as his research in this important area progresses.”

Professor Brouzes joined the faculty of Stony Brook University’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 2011. His research explores the advantages conferred by droplet microfluidics over conventional technologies and other microfluidics techniques in terms of automation, throughput and combinatorial power for the manipulation and analysis of single cells. With a team of students and researchers, Brouzes is combining droplet microfluidics and state-of-the-art molecular techniques like next-generation sequencing to conduct genomic profiling of tissues at single-cell resolution.

“This multidisciplinary approach will have a direct impact on the basic science of cancer and at the clinical level by improving the way cancer progression is assessed and monitored,” said Brouzes.

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