Jianhua Lim

Design and Biomechanics of a Tissue Micro-stretcher

The human body experiences various mechanical loads which cells respond to correspondingly to maintain homeostasis. However, drastic stimuli changes might lead to various diseases and degeneration. To enable regenerative medical strategies, we must first understand the connection between cell and organ mechanics. With this motivation, my mentor is developing a deformable microfluidic chip that can apply these mechanical loads to a single layer of cells. Currently, the chip is tailored for loads in the annulus fibrosus of the spine, but other systems with similar loading could be considered. The current design is limited to testing one tissue sample and one stretching condition per cycle. We will create a new design that improves the chip’s ability to produce data by testing multiple stretching conditions and samples simultaneously. Specifically, I will employ finite element modeling and create a genetic algorithm to manipulate and optimize the chip design to match physiologically relevant, experimental strain measurements. Coupled with fluorescent images of the tissues under load, we can then predict tissue dynamics and correlate cellular mechanical responses to tissue behavior.

Message to Sponsor

I would like to thank SURF and the Johnson Fund for this opportunity as it allows me to explore my research interests and receive guidance from a mentor that will help guide me on this academic journey and beyond. This program presents me with the perfect opportunity of learning and collaborating with my mentor while building up a professional network. I hope that through this opportunity, I can better understand this field of research and situate myself on a more competitive ground to qualify for top PhD programs. I’m excited to get started!
  • Major: Bioengineering
  • Mentor: Andre Montes