What We Do

The Microtechnology, Medicine and Biology Lab is focused on the novel and simple use of microscale physics and phenomena to create tools and methods to further biological and medical goals ranging from basic science to research tools to diagnostics. We are especially interested and engaged in applying the lab’s technologies to cancer, inflammation and multi kingdom interactions. The MMB lab is multidisciplinary and collaborative, working across disciplines and disease boundaries to create solutions that can be translated into widespread use. The MMB Lab’s location in the heart of the UW medical complex helps us stay focused on important and high impact biological questions and clinical challenges.

While we are currently engaged in projects in a range of fields with collaborators around the world, a few areas of emphasis are highlighted.


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Growing evidence illustrates that the tumor microenvironment and the complex ecology of interactions between different cell types, extracellular matrix, and the body’s natural physiology play a significant role in tumor initiation, progression, and response to treatment. Overlaid upon this complex ecology is the natural and pathologic cellular heterogeneity of normal and cancerous tissue that creates a plastic biological system that can evolve new characteristics to impede or promote progression as well as evade therapy.  The MMB Lab develops and applies technologies for deeper insight into these fundamental aspects of tumor ecology – namely, the roles of the microenvironment, the various types of symbiotic ecological interactions, and heterogeneity in cancer.  Key to our approach is the ability to create simple but enabling technologies that can be rapidly translated into clinical practice. With this approach, we strive to do “more with less”, allowing us to explore enabling, advanced, high-content functional and molecular studies with patient samples from a wide range of cancers

Infectious Disease

The MMB lab is currently conducting research on the basic biology of infectious diseases as well as studies aimed at informing clinical decision making. Current projects are examining the dispersive capacity of clinically isolated Candida yeast species and developing 3D gut-vasculature lumen models to study immune responses to the protozoan parasites Toxoplasma gondii and Entamoeba histolytica.

Immunology and Inflammation

Modern lifestyles are characterized by high stress levels and an increased prevalence of obesity, both of which have consequences for immune cell function and inflammation. Increasing evidence implicates inflammation as a major contributor to the initiation and progression of many diseases including autoimmune conditions (e.g. lupus, arthritis), atherosclerosis, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The MMB lab is working to better understand inflammation, its consequences and control.

Diagnostic Devices

New microfluidic technologies are being applied to develop diagnostics for small volume samples from pediatric patients.

Physics-based Technology Development

An underlying principle that guides technology development in the MMB lab is that simple is usually better than complex. Since we are particularly interested in studying cells, we focus our technology development at relevant cellular scales-specifically the micron to millimeter scale relevant to cell behavior and signaling. By understanding the basic physics of the scale (e.g. diffusion, surface tension) it is sometimes possible to create novel and elegant solutions to long standing challenges.  We strive to create technologies that are simple yet functional and that provide fundamental advantages or capabilities that provide new biological insights and/or improved clinical outcomes.