Title: Soft Materials-based Sensors and Actuators: from cancer diagnosis to tactile communication
Abstract: Translational biomedical engineering plays an important role in assimilating the advancement of nanomaterials and microdevice engineering towards developing innovative tools for medicine, as well as contributing to the investigations across the multi-scale biological hierarchy with minimal invasions. Our laboratory is currently developing a few novel soft-materials based biotechnologies exploring scale-dependent physical science and the miniaturization technology towards efficient healthcare. In this talk, I will review our research on rapid blood screening devices for circulating tumor cells detection and analysis, and the recent collaboration with Facebook on developing tactile communication devices using polymer piezoelectric thin films. Nano-Micro scale science, Information, and Biomedicine are integrative components of the research that are used with advanced engineering tools to facilitate biomedical studies and develop point-of-care diagnostics for global health applications.
About Dr. Zhang: Dr. John X.J. Zhang is a Professor at Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College. Before joining Dartmouth, he was an Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas of Austin (UT Austin). He received his B.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China in 1995, M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from University of Maine, Orono in1998, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, California in 2004, and he was a Research Scientist in Systems Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before joining the faculty at UT Austin in 2005. Dr. Zhang is a Fellow of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and a recipient of 2016 NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award.
Zhang’s research focuses on exploring bio-inspired nanomaterials, scale-dependent biophysics, and nanofabrication technology, towards developing new diagnostic devices and methods on probing complex cellular processes and biological networks critical to development and diseases. Both multi-scale experimental and theoretical approaches are combined to investigate fundamental force, flow and energy processes at the interface of engineering and biomedicine. In particular, his laboratory is leading the development of integrated microfluidic and photonic microsystems (MEMS, micro-electro-mechanical systems), semiconductor chips and nanotechnologies critical to healthcare, defense and environmental applications. Dr. Zhang has a track record for developing well-funded research programs and his research has been sponsored by NIH, NSF, DARPA, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, British Council, and several other agencies. His group has published over 160 peer reviewed publications, presented over 70 invited seminars worldwide and filed more than 50 patents (7 US patents and 30+ international patents issued). He received the Wallace Coulter Foundation Early Career Award for developing handheld microphotonic imaging scanners and microsystems for early oral cancer detection; NSF CAREER award for the invention of plasmonic scanning probes design for controlled perturbation and imaging at sub-cellular level; and DARPA Young Faculty Award for patterning plasmonic surface on MEMS for biomarker sensing applications. Dr. Zhang is also a recipient of NIH Director’s Transformative Research Awards in 2016, to develop implantable energy harvesting devices enabled by flexible porous polymer films integrated on multi-stable structures. His research findings were licensed to two companies: CardioSpectra (acquired by Volcano, Nasdaq: VOLC), and NanoLite Systems for developing successful products designed to diagnose cancer through blood screening, tissue imaging and cell transformations at the point-of-care. Recently, Dr. Zhang is leading the effort working with Facebook on inventing wearable actuators for social touch and future tactile communication through the skin.
He is an alumnus of NAE Frontiers of Engineering programs, an editor for IEEE/ASME Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, and has published a textbook for undergraduates entitled Molecular Sensors and Nanodevices: Principles, Designs and Applications in Biomedical Engineering.