Dissertation Defense: Alberto Esteban Linares, Mechanical Engineering
Alberto Esteban Linares, Mechanical Engineering
*under the direction of Dr. Deyu Li
“Microfluidic Platforms for Retina Electrophysiology Studies”
03.01.23 | 11:00am CST | RHL (Light Hall) 512
Microfluidic platforms for ex vivo tissue culture studies are crucial for better understanding tissue physiologies and pathologies as they allow for precise control of cell microenvironment alike in vitro models, while maintaining the cellular matrix architecture similar to in vivo settings. Various microfluidic platforms have been reported with probing and sensing capabilities for tissues such as brain, colon, and aorta, among others. However, few reports have focused on studying retinal explants. The retina is a main part of the central nervous system that receives and transmits visual inputs to the brain, which then transforms this information and enables us to see. Given the relevance of this tissue, it is important to design microfluidic platforms that can unlock novel assays to probe retina. In this dissertation, three novel microfluidic systems with integrated sensing and actuating capabilities were introduced, characterized, and demonstrated, to address unmet needs in retina electrophysiology studies. First, a microfluidic chamber for tissue culture was used to rapidly induce a wide range of pressure levels and monitor the dynamic behavior of retina ganglion cells (RGCs) upon the pressure elevations. Second, a graphene-based microfluidic microelectrode array was developed to study the electrical response of RGCs to locally delivered chemical stimulation. Lastly, graphene field-effect transistors were integrated into a microfluidic perforated device as a tool to measure action potentials and neuronal processes with high spatiotemporal resolution through scanning photocurrent microscopy. Overall, this work takes the advantages of microfluidic technology for tissue culture systems and provides potential avenues to study the retina and better understand the central nervous system.