Mechanical Engineering Seminar


Biotransport for cryopreservation and microfluidic cell sorting


Dr. Li Zhan


Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.


Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at 11:00:00 AM   


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Dr. Levi Wood


Biotransport of heat, mass and fluid plays a pivotal role in diverse realms of fundamental and translational research in human health. In this talk, I will first discuss how to employ heat and mass transfer to stop biological time, and improve the survival of living biosystems from suspended animation at cryogenic temperature such as -196 °C (liquid nitrogen). Rapid cooling and warming techniques are developed to avoid lethal ice formation. I will highlight the first scalable pancreatic islet cryopreservation which could pave the way to cure diabetes, and a robust cryopreservation method for Drosophila (fruit fly) embryos. In the second part of the talk, I will discuss rare cell isolation using microfluidic devices. Specifically, circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are shed into blood stream from primary tumor and can seed new tumors in different organs. This process is called metastasis and causes 90% of cancer death. Circulating tumor cell clusters are 50-fold more metastasis-competent but are ultra-rare (~1 cluster hidden among 100 billion blood cells). I will highlight the development of a label-free microfluidic sorting chip to recover CTC clusters with >90% yield at 1L/h throughput using unprocessed whole blood, which will also enable the return of sorted blood to patients (i.e., apheresis) in the future. In concluding the talk, I will discuss my future research on the integration of engineering with biology and medicine for applications in biomanufacturing and biomedical devices.


Li Zhan is currently a postdoctoral fellow from Prof. Mehmet Toner’s lab in the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Prior to that, he received his Ph.D. training with Prof. John Bischof in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He earned his B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University, China. His research develops engineering tools for biomedical applications, specifically focusing on manufacturing living biosystems and engineering biomedical devices for a broad range of applications including biopreservation, cancer research, point-of-care diagnostics and beyond. Besides developing fundamental and translational research to improve human health, he is dedicated to teaching and mentoring next-generation engineers and scientists.


Refreshments will be served.