Welcome to the Bhushan J. Toley Laboratory for Microfluidic Bioengineering!
The primary goals of our lab are to a) conduct research at the interface of engineering and biology, b) train engineers and scientists to tackle multidisciplinary problems, and c) have fun along the process!!
The overarching theme of the research conducted in our lab is the development of new and enabling technologies for biomedical research and medical diagnostics. We give particular emphasis to development of simple and low-cost technology that can be used at or delivered to low-resource settings e.g. rural areas and lightly-equipped clinical or research laboratories. We are currently interested in the two broad areas mentioned below, but are always open to collaborating on other exciting bioengineering or fundamental science problems.
1. Point-of-care medical diagnostics
For a better and healthier future, state-of-the-art medical diagnostic technology must be accessible at the point-of-care, i.e. in close proximity to where the patient is receiving care. However, this requirement is currently far from fulfilled. In India, every year ~1 million people are infected by the TB-causing bacteria Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. The state-of-the-art in rapid detection of TB is by using molecular methods, i.e. detecting the bacteria directly by their DNA. However, molecular diagnosis requires very expensive instruments that are not accessible to most in the country. We aim to develop simpler, smaller, and cheaper medical diagnostic devices that can match the performance of state-of-the art instruments. We think of such devices as mini chemical plants and apply fundamentals from chemical engineering and other engineering disciplines to build sophisticated, yet simple-to-use biomedical devices.
Watch our graduate student, Navjot Kaur, explain this to a global audience at the United Nations Winter Youth Assembly (below).
2. Tools for cancer therapeutics development
The cancer drug development process has historically relied on flat plate cultures of cancer cells to test the efficacy of drug candidates. These flat plate cultures do not accurately mimic the complex 3D tumor microenvironment. We aim to develop new simple methods for creating 3D cancer tissues in vitro. Our goals are to develop tools that can be more effectively used to screen cancer drugs, can be used to understand the distribution of cancer drugs within 3D tumor tissue, and can be used to answer fundamental questions about the behavior of cancer cells in 3D tumor microenvironments.
Our research paper on experimental measurement of parameters governing flow rates and partial saturation in paper-microfluidic devices has been accepted for publication in Langmuir. Just accepted manuscript available here.