SURF

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 express my utmost gratitude to the Johnson Fund for giving me this privilege and special opportunity to perform cutting-edge research in one of the top institutions in the world. Through this SURF program, I was able to dive deeper into my research interests and was exposed to a highly collaborative and fun learning environment. I am grateful to be mentored by exceptional and exemplary mentors, which guided me throughout this research experience and providing networking opportunities. This summer’s SURF experience has solidified my ambition to pursue a doctorate degree in my field and further dive deeper into academia, as well as situate myself on a more competitive ground to qualify for top PhD programs.
  • Major: Bioengineering
  • Sponsor: Johnson Fund
  • Mentor: Andre Montes