This past semester started off on a high note as I passed my PhD candidacy exam. My presentation was entitled “Actuation, Characterization, and Capture of Cancer Cells using Dielectrophoresis (DEP).” I described my previous work on developing an automated DEP characterization system, as well as my current and proposed research on cancer cell capture with DEP. My thesis committee members are Brian Kirby (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), Susan Daniel (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), and Robert Weiss (Biomedical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine).
More recently, I submitted two first-author papers describing my current research on improving cancer cell capture with a combination of DEP and immunocapture techniques. For my thesis, I will continue to work on designing a novel hybrid DEP-immunocapture microfluidic system to improve the capture purity of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from cancer patient blood. I also plan to make blog posts describing my two submitted papers in more detail once they are published.
Finally, several Kirby Lab members including myself took Prof. Kirby’s “Cancer for Engineers” class this past semester. The class was designed to teach cancer to physical science and engineering graduate students with little to no prior training in biology. We covered different types of cancer, details of oncogenesis and metastasis, clinical case studies, and medical intervention and surgical options. I found the class especially helpful in differentiating between the various types of cancer, as I only have previous experience working with prostate cancer.