/Nanofluidic devices for single bioparticle manipulation and isolation

Nanofluidic devices for single bioparticle manipulation and isolation

PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Improve therapeutic outcomes in health care using nanotechnology to enhance isolation of biological materials
Continued advancements in nanofabrication technology provide significant opportunities in the healthcare and medical research domains. By harnessing nanofluidics combined with electrokinetic approaches, we’d like to enable greater and more precise manipulation of biological samples and the clinically relevant bioparticles contained therein.  One application of current interest is targeted gene therapy, which offers the possibility to treat a wide-range of medical conditions and diseases, included those once thought untreatable. As of today, the majority of gene therapy treatments conducted rely on viral vectors, with adeno-associated virus being commonly used. To improve therapeutic outcome and mitigate associated risks, it is desirable to minimize defective viral capsids including those with no payload or a potentially harmful, incorrect payload. However, limitations in conventional analytical techniques (which lack either throughput or ability to characterize heterogeneities in the viral capsids or contained payloads) hinder the development and production of viral delivery-based treatments.  Our ambition is to offer improved analytical methods to qualify viral vectors, which could accelerate advancements in the development of the treatments and ultimately reduce costs and improve access to these potentially life-altering therapies.

The selected student’s role is develop nanofluidic devices employing hydrodynamic, electrokinetic, and/or chemical-based approaches to manipulate and isolate bioparticles based on key metrics (such as particle size, surface charge, and dielectric properties) for later downstream analysis. A significant focus will lie on numerical analysis to understand which physical mechanisms can be exploited to manipulate relevant bioparticles with improved control and precision. To this end, multiphysics simulations utilizing continuum-based computational techniques for solving coupled Poisson-Nernst-Planck and Navier-Stokes problems as well as coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations will be explored. The student will design devices to be produced using imec’s advanced, state-of-the-art nanofabrication facilities. The student will experimentally test the fabricated devices, utilizing optical microscopy and electrical-based characterization techniques to characterize the device performance.

Prospective candidates should have strong analytical skills and preferably, prior knowledge in applying numerical methods to fields such as fluid mechanics, solid-state physics, electrochemistry and/or electrophysiology. At imec, the selected candidate will work in a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and gain expertise in the development of nanotechnology-based devices for life science applications.

Required background: Engineering Science, Physics, or Nanotechnology

Type of work: 60% modeling and numerical simulations, 30% experimental design and testing, 10% literature review and publication related activities

Supervisor: Pol Van Dorpe

Daily advisor: Ben Jones

The reference code for this position is 2024-134. Mention this reference code on your application form.

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