ME Seminar

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Abstract: Microfabricated technologies are promising tools to implement tradition of physics into biology since they provide precise measurements and quantitative data extraction. These systems enable uncovering the mystery of biological systems ranging from cellular individuality to complex tumor microenvironment. 

The first part of this talk will discuss how persister cells tolerate antibiotics that kill their genetically identical siblings. To address this question, automated time-lapse fluorescence microcopy was applied in conjunction with microfluidic and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to study bacterial responses to antibiotics in real time at the single-cell level. First, a genetic approach was employed to identify mutants of Mycobacterium smegmatis with altered rates of persistence against the first-line anti-tuberculosis drug isoniazid (INH). Second, dielectrophoretic-based separation techniques were performed to isolate persister cells from non-persisters for further biochemical characterizations.

The second part of this talk will focus on in vitro modeling of brain tumor microenvironment to investigate the intercellular signaling network in tumorigenesis. This platform will represent a micro-pathophysiological system that allows using small amounts of clinical specimens to test new therapeutic strategies such as microglia depletion and cytokine combination therapy as personalized medicine.

Finally, the third part of this talk will present the future directions of this research. Microfluidic single cell approaches to study persistence phenomena in cancer, high-throughput drug screening platform on primary cells and computational framework for modeling tumor mass will be discussed.

Biography: Meltem Elitas is a Postdoctoral research associate in the Bioengineering Department at Yale University, Connecticut, US. She is working with Prof. Rong Fan’s research group, developing microfluidic artificial tumor microenvironment assays to study cancer heterogeneity and cancer-immuno interaction. She received her Ph.D. degree in Bioengineering and Biotechnology from École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland in 2012 where she worked with Prof. John McKinney, Prof. Sebastian Maerkl, and Prof. Philippe Renaud on understanding mycobacterium persistence at single cell level using microfabricated tools. She received her M.S. degree in Mechatronics Engineering from Sabanci University, Istanbul, in 2007 where she worked with Prof. Asif Sabanovic’s research group studying function based control. Her B.Sc. is in Electrical Engineering from Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul, in 2005. Meanwhile she studied Mathematical Engineering as a double major. Her research interests are phenotypic heterogeneity in cancer and infectious disease, single-cell microfluidic technologies, real-time drug responses, live cell imaging and MEMS.