Dr. Roisin Owens
Professor, Department of Bioelectronics
Ecole des Mines de St. Etienne, France
"Enhancing synthetic biology with electroactive materials and devices"
My research program focuses on harnessing the power of engineering for developing in vitro biological models in a synthetic biology approach. By developing both the biological model and the adapted monitoring methods in parallel, both may be iteratively improved resulting in enhanced systems. I define the latter combination as in vitro systems: an integrated system to monitor human biology in vitro. Specifically, I have focused on the use of electroactive materials and devices which bridge a gap between hard inflexible materials used for physical transducers and soft, compliant biological tissues. The transducer thus becomes a ‘synthetic’ part of the model, allowing transduction and/ or stimulation of biological systems in the least invasive and thus most biomimetic fashion possible.
In this presentation I will discuss how my group has used conducting polymer materials and devices to integrate with biological systems. These materials have been proven repeatedly in the last decade to bring numerous advantages to a wide variety of biomedical applications in terms of sensitivity, specificity and most importantly, bridging of the biotic/abiotic interface. Unique properties of conducting polymer materials are targeted, that allow easy processing, and flexibility in design as well as chemical tunability. Specifically, I will give examples of how we have used conducting polymer materials and devices to do the following:
•Gain a basic understanding of the interface of cells and subcellular components with electroactive materials
•Develop 3D in vitro tissue models with integrated fluidics and electronics
•Use 3D in vitro systems to answer specific questions related to human pathology
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