Biomedical devices often rely on underlying physical processes including of fluid flow, chemical transport, and reaction kinetics. By understanding the core physical phenomena, we can exploit them to create improved or entirely new devices for disease detection or treatment.
We manipulate principles of flow, transport, and reaction to engineer medical devices. Often the phenomena are simple, and the value comes from applying them in a new context. Most of our work combines physics-based thinking and needs-driven translation, where simple physical principles can lead to robust devices that have real applications.
My main professional identity is in microfluidic physics applied to point-of-care diagnostics. I also have commercialization-driven projects to develop an implantable fluidic device. These areas are triangulated by an interest in economically-sustainable translation (commercialization) of medical devices in low-income global markets. My previous work involved microfluidics for single-cell analysis and nanoparticle probes for multi-spectral imaging of proteins in tissue samples.
Instrument-free point-of-care diagnostics
Many human diseases can be diagnosed by biochemical analysis of blood, saliva, urine, or other fluids that can be easily collected. Samples are typically sent to a centralized lab where the analysis is performed by a trained human using an expensive machine. While waiting for the diagnosis, the patient may get worse, spread the disease, or incubate drug-resistant organisms. The problem is especially important in low-income regions, where sophisticated labs are less accessible, and locating a patient to deliver a delayed diagnosis may be difficult. We aim to create portable “laboratories” that can rapidly diagnose disease in low-resource settings. In several projects, we take advantage of the wicking ability of paper-like materials to move sample and reagents, and we “program” the materials to carry out the steps normally done in the lab. In another project, we are using a cell phone audio jack connected to a microfluidic card to control the diagnostic test and detect the results. These projects exploit simple physical principles to design new diagnostic devices. Applications include HIV, malaria, dengue fever, MRSA, and influenza.
Devices to drain fluid from the brain
In 2010, I was approached by a pediatric neurosurgeon who had a “plumbing” problem. Half of his surgeries involved placing or replacing one type of implantable device that had a notorious reputation for unexpected failure. The device, call a “shunt”, has been used since the 1950’s to treat hydrocephalus (‘water + ‘head’), which results from an inability to reabsorb the cerebrospinal fluid that we all produce constantly in our brains. These devices are remarkably common (1 in 500 live births) and fail at a very high rate (40% by two years). After viewing a surgery I was hooked on the problem, and we set out to develop improved technologies to treat hydrocephalus and related drainage problems. Our projects are problem-driven and focused on short-term outcomes, including attention to translational issues of intellectual property, regulatory approval, and commercialization.
2014 Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, UW Bioengineering
2014 National Effective Teaching Institute (selected by Dean, 50 nationwide), American Society of Engineering Education
2011 UW Business Plan Competition, Best Technology Award (student team, Aqueduct SmartShunt)
2008 American Vacuum Society Young Investigator Award, BioMEMS
2005-2006 NIH/NHGRI Genome Sciences Training Grant
2001 NSF East Asia & Pacific Summer Institute Fellowship, Tohoku University, Japan
1999-2000 Joseph & Jane McCarthy Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching
1998-1999 D.D. & Sylvia M. Drowley Fellowship
1992 Eagle Scout, Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America, 1992,1990
Lutz, Liang, Fu, Ramachandran, Kauffman, & Yager. “Dissolvable fluidic time delays for programming multi-step assays in instrument-free paper diagnostics,” Lab on a Chip (2013), DOI: 10.1039/c3lc50178g. Highlighted in ChemistryWorld.
Ramachandran, Singhal, Mckenzie, Osborn, Arjyal, Dongol, Baker, Basnyat, Farrar, Dolecek, Domingo, Yager, & Lutz. “A Rapid, Multiplexed, High-Throughput Flow-Through Membrane Immunoassay: A Convenient Alternative to ELISA,” Diagnostics, Special Issue: Feature Papers (2013), DOI: 10.3390/diagnostics3020244. Special Issue: Feature Papers.
Lafleur, Stevens, McKenzie, Ramachandran, Spicar-Mihalic, Singhal, Arjyal, Osborn, Kauffman, Yager, & Lutz. “Progress toward multiplexed sample-to-result detection in low resource settings using microfluidic immunoassay cards,” Lab on a Chip (2012), DOI: 10.1039/C2LC20751F.
Lutz, Trinh, Ball, Fu, & Yager. “Two-dimensional paper networks: programmable fluidic disconnects for multi-step processes in shaped paper,” Lab on a Chip (2011), DOI: 10.1039/C1LC20758j.
Osborn, J, Lutz, B, Fu, E, Kauffman, P, Stevens, D, Yager, P. “Microfluidics without pumps: re-inventing the T-sensor & H-filter in paper networks,” Lab on a Chip (2010), DOI: 10.1039/C004821F. Cover Image.
Fluidic devices to treat hydrocephalus
Lutz, Venkataraman, & Browd. “New and Improved Ways to Treat Hydrocephalus: pursuit of a smart shunt,” Surgical Neurology International (2013), 4, Suppl S1:38-50, DOI: 10.4103/2152-7806.109197. Invited review.
Raman nanoparticle probes for multi-spectral imaging
Lutz, B., Dentinger, C. Sun, L., Nguyen, L., Zhang, J., Chmura, AJ, Allen, A., Chan, S., Knudsen, B. “Spectral analysis of multiplex Raman probe signatures,” ACS Nano, 2, 2306–2314 (2008), DOI: 10.1021/nn800243g.
Lutz, B.R., Dentinger, C. Sun, L., Nguyen, L., Zhang, J., Chmura, AJ, Allen, A., Chan, S., Knudsen, B. “Raman nanoparticle probes for antibody-based protein detection in tissues,” Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, 56, 371-379 (2008), DOI: 10.1369/jhc.7A7313.2007.
Sun, L.; Sung, K.-B.; Dentinger, C.; Lutz, B.R.; Nguyen, L.; Zhang, J.; Qin, H.; Yamakawa, M.; Cao, M.; Lu, Y.; Chmura, A.J.; Zhu, J.; Su, X.; Berlin, A.; Chan, C.; Knudsen, B. “Composite organic-inorganic nanoparticles as Raman labels for tissue analysis,” Nano Letters, 7, 351-356 (2007), DOI: 10.1021/nl062453t.
Microfluidics with oscillating flow
Lutz, B.R.; Chen, J.; & Schwartz, D.T. “Hydrodynamic tweezers: non-contact trapping of single cells using steady streaming microeddies,” Analytical Chemistry, 78, 5429-5435 (2006), DOI: 10.1021/ac060555y.