Abraham “Abe” P. Lee

Affiliation: University of California at Irvine, CA, USA
E-mail address: aplee@uci.edu

Abraham “Abe” P. Lee is the William J. Link Professor and Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department with a courtesy appointment in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He is the Director of the NSF I/UCRC Center for Advanced Design & Manufacturing of Integrated Microfluidics. Prior to UCI, he was at the National Cancer Institute and a program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office at DARPA. Dr. Lee's lab focuses on developing active integrated microfluidics and droplet-based platforms applied to point-of-care and molecular diagnostics, “smart” nanomedicine theranostics for early detection and treatment, sample preparation for cell sorting and enrichment, single cell processing and analysis, tissue engineering, and cell-based therapeutics. Dr. Lee serves as an associate editor for Lab on a Chip, and his research has contributed to the founding of several start-up companies. Professor Lee was awarded the 2009 Pioneers of Miniaturization Prize and is an elected fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


Microfluidic Cell Sorting and Microphysiological Circulation: From Liquid Biopsy to Vascularized Micro Tissue

Over the last 20 years, many microfluidic technologies have been developed for sample preparation at the cellular scale to enable on-chip flow cytometry, cell separation, cell enrichment, and single cell trapping/release. Examples of these microfluidic sorting technologies include dielectrophoresis (DEP), acoustophoresis, acoustic streaming, magnetophoresis, immunomagnetic, magnetohydrodynamic, and inertial microfluidics. The basic principle is to exert forces at controlled levels above the laminar flow-induced viscous hydrodynamic forces in order to separate the targeted cells of interest. Liquid biopsy has become a promising technology to isolate and target rare cells such as circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in body fluids thanks to many of these microfluidic cell sorting techniques. This advent of microfluidic liquid biopsy provides an in vitro snap shot into the patient's physiological status via the in vivo circulation that enables one to monitor disease state and progression for diagnosis and prognosis.

Recently there has been a surge in the development of microphysiological systems and organ-on-a-chip for drug screening and regenerative medicine. Over the years, drug screening has mostly been carried out on 2D monolayers in microwell plates and the drugs screened are not delivered through blood vessels as they are for in vivo treatments. Through the advancement of microfluidics technologies, our team has enabled the automation of biological fluids delivery through physiological vasculature networks that mimic the physiological circulation of the human body. The critical bottleneck is to engineer the microenvironment for the formation of 3D tissues and organs and to also pump and perfuse the tissue vascular network for on-chip in vitro microcirculation. Microfluidics play an important role in both the above-mentioned in vivo liquid biopsy and in vitro physiological circulation platforms. These two technologies will go hand-in-hand to connect in vitro screening to in vivotreatment with tremendous potential towards the realization of personalized medicine.