438736 Bioengineered Personalized Disease Models for Precision Medicine

Sunday, November 8, 2015
Exhibit Hall 1 (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Jen-Huang Huang, Bioscience, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM

The 215 million dollar precision medicine initiative by President Obama intends to “pioneer a new model of patient-powered research that promises to accelerate biomedical discoveries and provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients”. It is very exciting to see the recognition for personalized medicine at a level which can enable significant innovations to solve practical problems. In the scientific world, problems are solved by generating an understanding through basic research, creating solutions through innovations, and bringing concept to product through applied research. As an educator and scientist, I see myself utilizing all three aspects of science to teach the next generation of engineers and to develop solutions for outstanding problems. 

     Based on my postdoctoral and graduate research experience, I believe personalized medicine is one of the research area that I can contribute significantly. I have experience in developing one of most complicated in vitro lung models recapitulating both the bronchiole and the alveoli, miniaturizing PCR platforms, forming complex microvasculature network in polymer substrates and performing rare cell separation for cancer diagnostics. To perform my research which resulted into 8 number of high impact publications and 4 numbers of invention disclosures/patent application, I have utilized anywhere from conventional microfabrication techniques to laser based microfabrication and rapid prototyping methods. To support these platforms and to perform proof of principles, I have developed diverse skills including numerous analysis/development tools (Scanning Electron Microscopy, Finite Element Modeling, Computer Aided designs, etc.) and cell/molecular bio-techniques (cell/tissue culturing, staining, genetic modification and expression, etc.) While I prefer utilizing existing capabilities to support my research, I am also used to developing my own tools for development and analysis.

     Looking ahead, I wish to combine the knowledge obtained from my graduate and postdoctoral research experience to develop a unique program to further biological and mechanistic understanding of the complex nature of disease pathology and apply it to personalized medicine. A significant challenge would be bridging the chasm between engineering and biology which is necessary to address the needs in human health and biomedicine. Ultimately, my objective is to acquire the necessary capabilities and expertise to develop technologies and test new strategies capable of overcoming the physiological barriers for improved detection and treatment. What is more interesting is that the nature of multidisciplinary approach in my research will also equip me to develop unique academic/training environment for my students in the classroom and in the laboratory. I strongly believe that the type of academic/research capability that I can bring to an institution will also be greatly appreciated by several programs with in different sponsors such as the NSF and the NIH. I would like to pursue programs like the NSF Career award, NIH young investigator award, NIH R01 grants to support the development of my research interests. I understand that in these days of multidisciplinary research, it is not possible for a single investigator to provide a comprehensive solution to a specific problem. Therefore, I will actively initiate collaborations with other investigators to fulfil any inadequacy with my research efforts. ‘Balance’ is what I will be seeking between my teaching effort, research activities, and personal interests with my new career as a faculty member in an academic institution.

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