Microfluidics, Technology, Commercialization

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Microfluidics refers to the behavior, precise control, and manipulation of fluids that are geometrically constrained to a small scale (typically sub-millimeter) at which surface forces dominate volumetric forces. It is a multidisciplinary field that involves engineering, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. It has practical applications in the design of systems that process low volumes of fluids to achieve multiplexing, automation, and high-throughput screening. Similar to 3D printing, microfluidics emerged at the beginning of the 1980s and is used in the development of inkjet printheads, DNA chipslab-on-a-chip technology, micro-propulsion, and micro-thermal technologies, organ-on-a-chip, and more. 3D printing has been both a manufacturing method and an application for microfluidics.




Albert Folch

Albert Folch received his BSc in physics from the University of Barcelona (UB), Spain, in 1989. In 1994, he received his Ph.D. in surface science and nanotechnology from the UB’s Physics Dept. During his Ph.D. he was a visiting scientist from 1990–91 at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab working on AFM under Dr. Miquel Salmeron. From 1994–1996, he was a postdoc at MIT developing MEMS under the advice of Martin Schmidt (EECS) and Mark Wrighton (Chemistry). In 1997, he joined the laboratory of Mehmet Toner as a postdoc at Harvard’s Center for Engineering in Medicine to apply soft lithographic methods to tissue engineering. He has been at Seattle’s UW BioE since June 2000 where he is now a full Professor, accumulating over 6,700 citations (averaging >82 citations/paper over his whole career). His lab works at the interface between microfluidics, cancer, and neurobiology. In 2001 he received an NSF Career Award and in 2014 he was elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows (Class of 2015). He serves on the Advisory Board of Lab on a Chip since 2006. Albert Folch is the author of four books, including “Introduction to BioMEMS”, a textbook now adopted by more than 77 departments in 17 countries (including 40 universities in the U.S. alone). Since 2007, the lab runs a celebrated outreach art program called BAIT (Bringing Art Into Technology) which has produced seven exhibits, a popular resource gallery of >2,000 free images related to microfluidics and microfabrication, and a YouTube channel that plays microfluidic videos with music which accumulates ~133,000 visits since 2009.


Mohsen Akbari

Mechanical Engineering, University of Victoria

Dr. Mohsen Akbari is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Director of the Laboratory for Innovations in Microengineering (LiME) at the University of Victoria. In addition to his professorship, he is a member of the Center for Advanced Materials and Related Technologies (CAMTEC), member of Center for Biomedical Research (CBR), investigator at International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), Associate Member of Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at 4M Biotech. Dr. Akbari obtained his Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University and his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is the recipient of several awards, including the NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, Michael Smith Foundation Idea to Commercialization Awards, BC Innovation Council Research Award, Kaiser Foundation Award, and recognized as a Canadian Rising Star in Global Health by Grand Challenges Canada. Dr. Akbari’s research lies at the interface of cellular biology, biomaterials, and microtechnologies and aims to develop innovative approaches for disease modelling and drug delivery. He currently holds funding from CIHR, NSERC, CFI, BC Cancer Foundation, and the Department of National Defense. He is a Guest Editor of Micromachines and Gels and a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering. His research findings have been published in 90 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters with an h-index of 35 and over 5300 citations. His work has been featured on the cover of 11 Journals and reported in media such as CBC News, Time Colonist, BBC News, Google News, Science Daily, The Telegraph, and Fortune.


Nick Allan

Nick Allan is the Bio Services Manager at StarFish Medical. Allan joined the company as a Project Manager, becoming Bio Service Manager in 2016. He has provided innovative solutions to client issues ranging from proof-of-concept studies for rapid detection point of care assays to full-scale regulatory submission studies, and designed and facilitated more than 500 Unique Research Protocols. Allan is President of Chinook Contract Research, co-founder and former GM of The Institute for Applied Poultry Technologies, and former Contract Research Manager at Innovotech Inc. Allan holds an MS in Microbiology and BS in Biology from the University of Guelph.


Simon Beyer

Simon is the Chief Technology Officer at Aspect and oversees the advancement of our biomanufacturing technologies. He leads our engineering teams and the development of our core technologies, including bioprinting systems, microfluidic printheads, biomanufacturing automation, tissue design software, and machine learning. Simon is a principal inventor of Aspect’s microfluidic bioprinting technology with broad expertise developing advanced printing systems for applications including printed electronics, self-assembling nanomaterials, and biological tissue.

Simon holds a B.A.Sc. and M.A.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of British Columbia




Kate Clancy

Kate Clancy is a Research Associate at Angle Biosciences Inc.(ABI) and a 3DHEALS Community Manager. At ABI, she works on both engineering and surface coating projects to design fluidic devices. Kate holds a MEng in Biomedical Engineering from McGill University and BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Guelph.


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