Kiara Cui

Doctoral Candidate

Cookeville, Tennessee
Version 2

Co-Advisor: Professor Alex Dunn

Education B.S. Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2016

Lab Duties Website Admin

Research Focus

Investigation of murine embryo development in vitro using microfluidics

Murine, or mouse, embryos are often used as model organisms for mammalian development, yet the developmental process is largely hidden from view as it occurs internally. Current in vitro methods allow us to view and manipulate the growing mouse embryo at a certain developmental point, but only for short periods of time as culture methods still need to be improved. The current method of roller culture requires high amounts of reagent use and results in morphological differences when compared to embryos isolated at equivalent developmental time points, suggesting that this method lacks key features of the in vivo developmental environment. In addition, current in vitro techniques do not recapitulate the tight temporal control of soluble signaling factors that is thought to be essential in the in utero developmental process.

A microfluidic perfusion culture device offers a way to address the shortcomings of current roller culture techniques while also allowing high-resolution, live imaging. In preliminary work, I have developed a prototype device that continuously introduces nutrients and removes waste from the system, as well as can enable time-varying profiles of soluble signals with a programmable pump, more closely mimicking what occurs in vivo. This system is readily parallelizable to accommodate multiple embryos and customized ECM biomaterials.


Figure 1. Schematic of device cross-section.

For more information, check out this infographic!