“From Lab on Chip to Organ on Chip: New Opportunities for Healthcare Research”, Prof. Dr. Ir. Albert van den Berg, University of Twente, The Netherlands

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Ir. Albert van den Berg, University of Twente, The Netherlands

Host: Dr. Alexey Tarasov, BioMed X

About Albert

Albert van den Berg received his MSc in applied physics in 1983, and his PhD in 1988 both at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. From 1988-1993 he worked in Neuchatel, Switzerland, at the CSEM and the University (IMT) on miniaturized chemical sensors. From 1993 until 1999 he was research director Micro Total Analysis Systems (μTAS) at MESA, University of Twente. In 1998 he was appointed as part-time professor “Biochemical Analysis Systems”, and later in 2000 as full professor on Miniaturized Systems for (Bio)Chemical Analysis in the faculty of Electrical Engineering. In 2002 he received the Simon Stevin Master award from the Dutch Technical Science foundation (STW). In 2003 he headed a 10 M Euro national research program on nanofluidics (NanoNed). In 2005 he spent 6 months in San Diego (USA) at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (LIAI, group Green) during a sabbatical leave, while he received an Advanced Research Grant from ERC in 2008. In 2009 he received the Spinoza prize, the most prestigious dutch scientific award, for his achievements in lab-on-a-chip research. In 2010 he was appointed as honorary University Professor at the University of Twente.

Albert van den Berg is member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW), the Dutch Health council, board member of the Chemical and Biological Microsystems Society, member of the Dutch chemical society (KNCV) and deputy chair of the journal Lab on a Chip. He has co-authored over 220 papers (H=36) and over 10 patents, and has been involved in > 5 spin-off companies.

His current research interests focus on microanalysis systems and nanosensors, nanofluidics and single cells and tissues on chips, especially with applications in personalized health care and development of sustainable (nano)technologies.

Outline of the talk

The recent rapid developments in bionanotech and micro/nanofluidic technologies has enabled the realization of miniaturized laboratories. These Labs-on-a-Chip will play an important role in future medicine, both in point-of-care devices for drug or biomarker monitoring, as well as in early diagnostic devices.

We developed a pre-filled ready-to-use capillary electrophoresis platform for measuring ions in blood. It is used to monitor lithium in finger-prick blood of manic-depressive patients, but can also be used for measuring calcium in blood for prevention of milk fever, or for measuring creatinine in blood or sodium in urine for early detection of ESRD. Microfluidics can also be exploited to manipulate and experiment with cells on chip.

We have developed a microsystem for sperm analysis and selection for artificial insemination, where we can electrically detect and sort healthy sperm cells. Using microtechnology we currently investigate a miniaturised neural probe used for online and offline analysis of CSF. Apart from diagnostic and cell manipulation devices, microfluidic devices are increasingly used to realise advanced disease and organ-models, as illustrated by the blood-brain barrier chip and a blood vessel on a chip to study atherosclerosis.

These Organs on Chip may lead to more rapid and cheaper drug development, personalised medicine and improved disease models, while minimizing or even eliminating animal testing (3R principle).