Jesus Muguruza

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I work with the Microfluidic Flow Cell Array (MFCA). The MFCA is a High troughput microfluidic system that allows for the parallel testing of different compounds via continuous flow. This system can be used to test 2D (single cell cultures) and 3D (frozen/alive cryo sectioned tissue slices, organoids) models that are more physiologically accurate than existing models. This system aims to improve the “weeding out” of candidates in the early stages of the drug development process. Thus, saving time and expensive resources.

I love playing every sport out there. EXCEPT soccer. I love nature though I’m not a big fan of camping. Reading a book by the ocean is the definition of a perfect day for me.

U Profs Receive $16M to Launch New MEP Center

Bruce n Bart 400x290Mechanical Engineering associate professor Bart Raeymaekers and professor Bruce Gale receive $16 million in funding over the next five years from both federal and state governments as well as local industry to develop a new center to help local manufacturing businesses succeed.

One of the hot-button issues this presidential election is about companies outsourcing work overseas and figuring out how to keep manufacturing jobs here in America. To help convince these businesses they can perform better in their own backyard, two University of Utah mechanical engineering professors are establishing a center to show local manufacturing companies how they can spur innovation and utilize the latest in technology.

The new University of Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center will deliver services for small and medium-sized manufacturing companies by providing expertise in advanced manufacturing technology, innovation, worker education, operational excellence, and on how to connect companies with investor opportunities.

“The goal of the program is to provide these services so businesses can remain competitive against cheap overseas labor and to keep those manufacturing jobs here,” says University of Utah mechanical engineering associate professor Bart Raeymaekers, who along with mechanical engineering professor Bruce Gale are creators of the center and recipients of the grant.

The center, in partnership with other entities and organizations throughout the state, will help local businesses:

  • Use data to identify products and markets that are growing and provide resources for the prototyping of new products.
  • Implement advanced manufacturing equipment and technology.
  • Develop and educate their workforce to use these new technologies.
  • Connect with investors and secure government grants to increase funding.
  • Learn how to make their operations more efficient to maximize profits.

The University of Utah’s MEP Center will receive funding from the U.S. commerce department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). All told, the center will receive $16 million in funding over the next five years from both federal and state governments as well as local industry. Utah is one of 11 states and Puerto Rico to have received NIST funding this month for local MEP centers.

The Utah center, which will be under the U’s College of Engineering, will begin operations Oct. 1 and be headquartered on the U campus. It will employ at least a dozen permanent employees, consultants and industry professionals. It will open satellite offices in Cache and Utah counties as well as have consultants in eastern Utah and Cedar City.

There are more than 3,300 manufacturing companies in Utah, ranging in areas from chemical products and computer and electronic products to metals, aerospace equipment and food products, according to publicly available data.


Utah Business follow-up story

NIH Features U Student Research

Water droplet suspended in an emulsion of olive oil, researcher: Valentin Romanov, mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate, advised by Prof. Bruce Gale.
Water droplet suspended in an emulsion of olive oil, researcher: Valentin Romanov, mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate, advised by Prof. Bruce Gale.

NIH – Snapshots of Life: A Flare for the Dramatic: Oil and water may not mix, but under the right conditions—like those in the photo above—it can sure produce some interesting science that resembles art. You’re looking at a water droplet suspended in an emulsion of olive oil (black and purple) and lipids, molecules that serve as the building blocks of cell membranes. Each lipid has been tagged with a red fluorescent marker, and what look like red and yellow flames are the markers reacting to a beam of UV light. Their glow shows the lipids sticking to the surface of the water droplet, which will soon engulf the droplet to form a single lipid bilayer, which can later be transformed into a lipid bilayer that closely resembles a cell membrane. Scientists use these bubbles, called liposomes, as artificial cells for a variety of research purposes.

Full story . . .

Bruce Gale

Director of the Center of Excellence for Biomedical Microfluidics

Bruce K. Gale,Gale received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University in 1995 and his PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Utah in 2000. He was an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University before returning to the University of  Utah in 2001 where he is now a professor of Mechanical Engineering. He is currently Director of both the Utah State Center of Excellence for Biomedical Microfluidics and the College of Engineering Nanofabrication Facility. He is also Chief Science Officer at Wasatch Microfluidics, a multiplexed instrument development company focused on protein characterization in the pharmaceutical industry that was spun out of his lab in 2005. He has three additional recent startups where he serves as chief scientist: Espira, which focuses on pathogen detection and exosome separations; Nanonc, which focuses on reproductive medicine applications of microfluidics; and Microsurgical Innovations, which focuses on miniature medical devices. He has been working in the area of microfluidics, nanotechnology, medical devices, and micro-total-analysis systems (-TAS) for the past 18 years. His primary interests include lab-on- a chip devices that require a variety of microfluidic components for the completion of complex and challenging medical and biological assays. Specifically, he is working to develop a microfluidic toolbox for the rapid design, simulation, and fabrication of devices with medical and biological applications. The ultimate goal is to develop platforms for personalized medicine, which should allow medical treatments to be customized to the needs of individual patients. He also has expertise in nanoscale patterning of proteins and sensors, nanoparticle characterization, miniature medical devices, and nanofabrication techniques.

Himanshu Sant

Research Assistant Professor

Project: Microscale Electrical FFF


I am a research assistant professor currently involved in developing field flow fractionation (FFF) based microchromatography systems and on-chip detection schemes for the development of basic platform for micro total analysis systems. Micro separation systems under study are capable of separating soluble and colloidal sample ranging from few nanometers to several microns and can be used for detection and size analysis or sample preparation for further downstream processing. These 25 mm in height, 2 mm wide and 5 cm long FFF devices use a variety of driving force which include electrical, thermal, dielectrophoretic in combination or alone. My work is related to devise the experimental methods to study not so well understood aspects of these systems, improvement in existing systems and development of new products.

Masters Thesis: Improved Scaling Models for Electrical FFF 

Haidong Feng

     After receiving my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in metallurgical engineering, I became fascinated with the micro-fabrication process and the design of micro-scale devices for medical therapy and analysis purpose. Microfluidic devices have feature sizes similar to those of biological cells and enable us to handle single cells and other bio-particles, which enhance our capability in the field such as molecular biology and pharmacology.
     My first project is concerning about the extraction and purification of chromosome from stem cells. Purified chromosomes are needed for the genetic analysis and chromosome transfer research. Utilizing a pinched flow device, we extract chromosomes from cell debris after chemical treatment. This method is proved to cause minimum damage to chromosomes. After that, the spiral channel device and deterministic lateral displacement device (which is a pillar matrix that promotes the separation of large chromosome molecule and loose cell debris) are utilized to purify chromosomes.

     In addition, I am working on the project of utilizing Raman spectroscopy for the inspection of sperm quality. As a non-invasive inspection approach, Raman spectroscopy provides detailed information on the internal structure of molecules without the need of labeling. This research will contribute for the selection of high quality sperm in andrology research.

Device used to extract and purify chromosomes from stem cells

Raman Spectroscopy Project


John Nelson

I received my B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Utah in 2016 and am currently preparing for admission to an M.D./Ph.D. program. My work in Dr. Gale’s lab has generally been focused on designing and testing a device for John Nelsonchromosome purification. Such a device would enable the development of an improved intercellular chromosome transfer process.

Main Project: Chromosome Purification

For the past 40 years, geneticists have been using a microcell mediated chromosome transfer (MMCT) process to transfer chromosomes from one cell line to another. However, in many cases MMCT causes damage to chromosomal structure and base pair sequence. As a result it would be advantageous to develop an alternative method that would reduce damage to the chromosomes. One potential process involves the transfer of chromosomes into a host cell after cell lysis, however other cellular material that accompany the chromosome promote the chance of apoptosis. In order to prevent apoptosis, we are attempting to separate chromosomes from all other cellular material. This is being accomplished through the use of a size separation method known as viscoelastic focusing within a spiral channel.

Secondary project: Zebrafish genotyping

Zebrafish are a useful organism for drug screenings, toxicity testing, and developmental testing due both to quick reproduction times and low-cost maintenance. However, one limitation to their use in research has been the amount of time required to test these organisms for the presence of specific genes. Currently researchers are required to wait several weeks post fertilization before being able to obtain a tissue sample that can then be genotyped. This is a problem as much of the testing done on zebrafish is done in the first couple weeks of life. However, previous work in our lab indicates that we should be able to genotype embryos at only 24-48 hours post fertilization. We are currently designing and testing a device which will be able to automatically genotype and sort hundreds of embryos giving researchers access to valuable information before they begin testing rather than after it is finished.

Greg Liddiard

I received both my B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Utah in Electrical Engineering and am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering. I’m working to develop easily integrated microvalves, pressure regulators, and pressure amplifiers for use in microfluidic lab-on- a-chip systems. I’m also working on medical garments for prevention of pressure ulcers in immobilized patients. Outside of the university I work with a local medical device company developing MEMS based pressure sensors with a specific focus on packaging for ultra-low pressure and harsh environment applications.


Integrated Microfluidic Control Devices

Microfluidic lab–on-a- chip systems offer a number of very enticing advantages over their macro counterparts. One glaring disadvantage, however, is that often a number of “off chip” support devices must be used in order for the microfluidic chip to properly function. This limits both usability andportability. My control devices research focuses on fluidic flow control mechanisms that can be easily incorporated into a device using processes already implemented to create the necessary channels and chambers. The goal is to provide an electrically controlled, completely integrated solution, with only a single off-chip pneumatic source. This will be accomplished using a combination of custom designed polymer based electrostatic microvalves, pressure amplifiers, and pressure regulators.


Pressure Ulcer Prevention Garments

Patients experiencing prolonged hospitalization, or with spinal cord injury, often suffer from pressure ulcers or sores that can delay their recovery and can result in extended hospital stays thus adversely affecting overall health and increasing healthcare costs. Generally, hospitals transfer patients to pressure relieving beds only after the appearance of sores, due to the high costs of such beds. My active geometry garment research seeks to provide a cost effective solution to this problem as hospitals will be able to provide each patient with a pressure relieving garment as they are admitted and therefore not only prevent pressure sores but also reduce overall healthcare costs by reducing the length of hospital stays, additional surgeries, and rehab as well as eliminating the need for specialty beds. The garment uses advanced textile design and manufacturing techniques to create individually controllable fluid bladders within the garment. These bladders are then inflated and deflated in order to actively redistribute the patient’s weight over varying contact areas thus preventing cell ischemia, and eventually necrosis, and promoting healthy blood flow and oxygenation. Developing multi-layer polymer-based fluidic control structures for low cost and simple integration into microfluidic lab-on- a-chip systems. These include pneumatically-backed electrostatic microvalves as well as necessary micro infrastructure devices such as micro pressure amplifiers and regulators. Also developing active geometry garments for prevention and elimination of pressure ulcers in immobilized individuals.


Jiyoung Son

Me 2016I am a  person filled with curiosity, and I believe that it is the key to being a researcher. With curiosity, I think that I can find excitement in learning and researching. Endurance has also been a key driving force to pursuing higher education and research.

Currently I am conducting a cell sorting project which requires separation of sperm from highly contaminated surgical samples. In order to separate such a small amount of sperm cells(~100ea/mL), I designed an inertial microfluidics device to generate the flow focusing of sperm by studying the flow focus of sperm like asymmetrical particles. This project also includes a study on possible effects of developed device and its protocol which includes viability study of sperm after device surface exposure. This project has been a collaborative effort with Reproductive Medicine Center/Andrology Lab of University of Utah Hospital and it has been successful working together.

I also have research experience on the machine learning algorithm (Neural Network) from my previous graduate project (MS in EE), which was designing a self-collision detection algorithm(C++) for a humanoid robot. This experience can contribute a valuable addition to microfluidic detection/diagnostics systems such as automated analysis capability using machine learning.

Ryan Brewster

Ryan Lab WebpageI am currently working on the combined BS/MS program in mechanical engineering and have had the privilege of working in Dr Bruce Gale’s lab for the past two years. I have enjoyed working in the lab, being able to work on a variety of projects. My main current project is the development of a vascular coupling device. The goal of the project is to develop an implantable device that will reconnect blood vessels quickly and efficiently, thus saving both operating time and funds. Currently the standard practice is to suture the vessels together by hand which can be a long and tedious process. In being involved with this project, I have been privileged to work with Dr Gale in addition to Jay Agarwal (Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine), Jill Shea (Surgery Research Assistant Professor) and Himanshu Sant (Mechanical Engineering Research Assistant Professor), each of whom have shared their knowledge and experiences in helping and teaching me.
Another project that I am involved with is working with a team from our lab in the development of a high sensitivity pathogen detection system. This system is able to detect low levels of pathogens in a relatively short amount of time, which is very beneficial for water treatment, food processing, clean room, and marine sanitation industries. My role in the project is to work on automating the procedure to perform this procedure on its own.
One of the things that I most enjoy about working in Dr Gale’s lab is the opportunity that I have to learn. There are many tools and resources in the lab, as well as other students in the lab who are enjoyable to work with. Dr Gale also is good mentor and it is evident that he is an expert in his field. He provides great advise and direction, as well as creates an environment where engineering principles and ideas are easily achieved. I am grateful to be a member of Dr Gale’s lab.