Interview with Gavin Jeffries, CTO, Fluicell AB

Gavin D. M. Jeffries is a Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Fluicell AB. Gavin holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Washington and is a former assistant Professor at Chalmers University of Technology. Gavin has published over 40 peer-reviewed publications with a cumulative citation count of over three thousand. As an entrepreneur/founder of two biotech and optics companies and inventor of multiple patents and technologies, Gavin has a strong background in microfluidics, single-cell analysis, and optical platform integration. Fluicell AB is a Life-Science tool company with a commercialized product portfolio of microfluidic products to investigate individual cells, primarily in the fields of drug development and regenerative medicine. Fluicell recently developed a unique high-resolution technology for bioprinting in both 2D and 3D under the name Biopixlar®. Built upon Fluicell’s patented microfluidic technology, Biopixlar can generate detailed, multi-cellular biological tissues, directly in cell culture media, without the use of a bioink. This all-in-one discovery platform helps researchers around the globe to build biological tissues for drug development, disease understanding and regenerative medicine research. He will be speaking at the upcoming Microfluidics and 3D printing event.

When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like?

Gavin: My first encounter was watching some of the original MakerBot printers replicate pats for other 3d printers. Soon after I saw some of the open science community using printers to make rudimentary lab tools to enable experimentation in lower-income parts of the world possible. This later was published as open labware (

What inspired you to start your journey?

Gavin: During my time as an Assistant Professor in 2010, we spun out Fluicell as a company to offer high-precision microfluidic products to biomedical researchers, primarily in the fields of drug development and biological research. I was inspired to develop microfluidic devices that can be used by non-specialists, to produce general-use tools encoded with the solution control capabilities of microfluidics.

It became apparent during the years, that through connections with other researchers, it would be ideal to not only deliver reagents to cell cultures but to pattern these cultures too. We began our bioprinting/patterning journey with a focus on high-precision invitro models. As our capabilities grew, so did our aspirations, and now our focus on precision tissue therapeutics, built with our microfluidic approach, is offering a new way to bioprint.

Who inspired you the most along this journey in bioprinting?

Gavin: I would say Owe Orwar has been a continued inspiration and cheerleader along this journey. His support of our work and the company has been an inspiration to many, particularly in pushing the bounds of research.

What motivates you the most for your work? 

Gavin: The biggest motivating factor is seeing how the technology that we develop at Fluicell positively impacts others’ research. It’s amazing to push the bounds of science ourselves, delving into new therapeutic fields, however seeing research only made possible with our technology, I find inspirational. 

What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?

Gavin: The biggest obstacles we face, generally come from education. We have, since our founding, developed technologies that offer capabilities many do not feel are possible. We strive to get equipment into labs and researchers’ hands to see for themselves. This is often a hurdle in high-tech fields; it’s not always the easiest being first. We have overcome/circumvented this by having a team of application specialists traveling (and using online tools) to present the technology in a pedagogic manner and help researchers get their hands on the tech as early as possible.

What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?

Gavin: I think some of the biggest challenges for bioprinting are based on expectation management. Hundreds of institutes and thousands of researchers across the globe are driving the field forwards, breaking new ground in biological understanding. Bioprinting as a replacement organ machine is many years out though, requiring not only new technological advancements but new regulatory systems too, as a clear roadmap has yet to be fully established.

Bioprinting for the therapeutic tissue has a lesser wow factor, however, the generation of functional microtissues is already underway and is in the early stages of preparation for clinical trials.

I think more open communication from companies in the bio-patterning fields, with realistic timelines, will help address this.

If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be?

Gavin: It’s not really a 3 wish response, but I very much appreciate many of the ideologies of Star Trek – The next generation. Advancing a society to a point where everyone can replicate what they need (food and/or technology), allows society to focus on developing society, and supporting the growth of humanity and others. All while discovering the wonders of both ourselves and the universe around us.

What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore? 

Gavin: Focus on the positives. Failures happen, learn from them and move on. The fear of failing can hamper creative thinking and this is a trap. If you are in a place of understanding and respect, you will get support to carry on.

Bad advice would be to keep doing something till it’s perfect. Sometimes good enough is good enough. This can be a springboard for others to continue in your footsteps and advance your work or findings. This also can inspire others or show a completely different path.

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