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The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship

Reid Phillips, Bioengineering - 2009-10 WRF/Space Grant

Phillips Reid photoMy interests in bioengineering stemmed from my training to become an emergency Medical Technician. This training exposed me to the magic of emergency medicine, but also revealed to me the shortcomings of the industry. It is my belief that many of these shortcomings can be eliminated through the development of novel biomedical technologies that put the power of the hospitals into the hands of the paramedics. The products of my current work should find applications in this regard.

My first experience in research was with Dr. Bassingthwiaghte and the National Simulation Resource. There, I learned to develop mathematical models of blood flow through the heart. I now work with Dr. Lutz and Dr. Yager in a microfluidics lab where the focus is on the development of solutions for home healthcare and distributed diagnostics. My research experience has been a tremendous supplement to my undergraduate education and has helped to define my future goals. After graduating from the University’s Bioengineering Department I plan to pursue a medical degree.

Thank you to the Washington Research Foundation and to the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium for their support of my efforts.

Mentor: Barry Lutz and Paul Yager, Bioengineering

Project Title: Frequency-Modulated Flow Control in a Microfluidic Device for Multistep Point-of-Care Assays

Abstract: Microfluidic devices have shown great potential for providing point-of-care (POC) solutions for diagnostics, food and environmental safety, and forensics 1,2 . At the same time, their impact on these fields has been limited by their general requirement for the supporting behaviors of bulky and expensive laboratory equipment such as computers and air pumps. The elimination of a device's dependency on this peripheral equipment is perhaps the greatest challenge in developing marketable POC solutions for the home or for the developing world. In an effort to provide a platform for the construction of microfluidic technologies with reduced laboratory dependencies, the proposed project aims to produce an on-card fluid delivery system suitable for use away from the lab. This system will be capable of directing a multi-step assay and to operate will require only an electrical input of variable frequency. Because this input can be provided by a cell phone, or some other similar piece of personal equipment, the system will allow for devices that are practical for use in the home or in the field. The system will employ fluidic oscillators, analogous to AC electrical circuits, with piezoelectric actuators to give frequency-specific flow control 3-4 . Constructed from mostly glass and plastic materials, the envisioned system offers the benefits of small size, low-cost manufacturing, portability, and durability. These are benefits that simply cannot be provided by the more typical laboratory fluid control systems which employ large and expensive pumps to drive fluid and open or close on-card valves 5 ' 8 . In contrast to paper-based microfluidic products, the system should offer high operating speeds and be tolerant of a wide range of chemical reagents. A successful project effort will yield a product with the potential to elicit the commercialization of any number of microfluidic technologies currently tethered to the laboratory environment.