The global COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the urgent need for portable, low-cost, sensitive, accurate, and widely available diagnostics. Our interdisciplinary team in biomedical and electrical engineering (Prof. Karen C. Cheung, Prof. Lukas Chrostowski, Prof. Sudip Shekhar) has developed a silicon photonic biosensor technology that leverages semiconductor manufacturing economies of scale for integration into a mobile-integrated, portable device that brings the quantitative, data-rich diagnostics of laboratory assays to the point-of-need. In these biosensors, specificity is afforded by the detection chemistry with which the sensor surface is functionalized, and the sample containing the analyte to be measured is delivered to the microchip surface using microfluidics. We are looking to grow our team, searching for applicants with experience in biological sample preparation for diagnostics. Applicants need not have experience in photonics or electronics.
Silicon photonic biosensors can detect a range of biomarker targets relevant to conditions including infectious diseases, cardiology, and neurology, and a key advantage of these biosensors over other technologies is the ability to multiplex measurements of several important biomarker analytes on the same chip. Multiplexed measurement of several biomarkers from the same sample is becoming increasingly important for diagnosis of — and patient stratification within — diseases and conditions for which levels of a single biomarker are not sufficient. We have designed devices with up to 16 multiplexed sensors on the same chip and are characterizing functionalization workflows, microfluidic designs, and sensor performance. The next key steps involve functionalizing the individual sensors to detect different biomarkers, and integrating microfluidic sample preparation into our assay development.
The applicant who accepts this position will join our multidisciplinary team working to develop a portable biosensor built from state-of-the-art silicon photonics technology, in collaboration with the UBC startup company Dream Photonics. The applicant will bring experience in microfluidic diagnostics (e.g., using passive microfluidics or digital microfluidics) to our team as we work to design silicon photonics-based diagnostic assays.
The position is for a post-doctoral researcher who will work closely with the principal investigators of the interdisciplinary silicon photonic biosensor team. This multidisciplinary team consists of Principal Investigators (PIs) Prof. Karen Cheung, Prof. Lukas Chrostowski, and Prof Sudip Shekhar. Prof Cheung brings microfluidics and biomedical device expertise and oversees microfluidic delivery and assay development. Prof. Chrostowski brings lasers and silicon photonics expertise and oversees photonic device design and laser integration. Prof. Shekhar brings electronics expertise, and oversees the readout, detection, and signal processing electronics. Under direction of the PIs and in collaboration with our team of postdoctoral fellows, graduate, and undergraduate students, this new postdoctoral appointment will focus on designing a portable, self-contained next-generation microfluidic system that does not require external pumps or valves to provide controlled flow during the diagnostic assay. The successful applicant will also work closely with the leadership team to define and manage project objectives, mentor graduate and undergraduate students, and aid in project management of our interdisciplinary team.
Candidates must have a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Electrical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, or a related discipline. Strong written and oral English communication skills are required. Experience working in interdisciplinary teams is strongly desired. Experience with designing, fabricating, and characterizing microfluidic devices for diagnostics is essential. Experience with biological sample preparation, diagnostic immunoassays, and sensor calibration and analytical validation are strong assets. The applicant should be a self-driven leader and highly motivated researcher.
Work to be performed:
- Benchmarking previously demonstrated classes of microfluidic sample delivery systems against the performance criteria for our silicon photonic biosensor for portable diagnostics at the point of need.
- Designing a next-generation microfluidic sample delivery device for integration with our new biosensor (choosing a microfluidics approach, potentially developing numerical models, pilot designs through rapid prototyping to predict performance, developing a process for fabrication and integration with our existing photonic chip packaging, functionalization, and testing workflows).
- Fabricating and characterizing the performance of the microfluidic sample delivery system.
- Demonstrating the utility of the sample delivery system for select demonstration binding assays, in collaboration with our interdisciplinary team.
- Mentoring and training graduate and undergraduate students.
- Maintaining up-to-date records of project progress and assisting with project management.
- Evaluating the promise and risks of possible sample preparation approaches, and providing feedback to help streamline and optimize these approaches. This will include identification of risks in the path to translation, and helping mitigate these risks.
- Assisting in ensuring that our teams are following Good Laboratory Practice.
- Experience with microfluidic devices, microfabrication, and rapid prototyping for diagnostics applications
- Experience in designing digital microfluidic systems
- Experience with biological sample preparation (e.g., whole blood, urine), preferably for diagnostic assays
- Experience with immunoassay development, ideally using label-free biosensing approaches
- (preferred) Preferred experience with sample preparation using microfluidic devices
- (preferred) Experience with sensor calibration and analytical validation techniques
- (preferred) Knowledge of programming software drivers to control hardware
- (preferred) Fluent with Python, Matlab, and/or similar programming languages
- Interest in project management and team leadership
- Doctorate degree in Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Electrical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, or a related discipline
- Exceptional candidates without a doctorate degree but with several years of equivalent experience can contact our team to discuss the availability of alternate positions
- Graduating thesis in the field of microfluidic systems or a related topic
Please provide the following: a one-page letter of intent which includes a statement of your research interest, a detailed curriculum vitae, a PDF copy or a link to one of your recent and related peer-reviewed publications, and the names of three references.
Complete application packages should be directed to:
Dr. Samantha M. Grist
Subject Line: Postdoctoral Fellow, Photonic Biosensing - Microfluidics