Microfluidic device to competitively measure biofilm dispersion potential

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Project Overview

Dr. Megan McClean, a professor and principal researcher at the University of Wisconsin Madison, has proposed a design project that tasks the team with building a microfluidic device to quantitatively measure biofilm dispersion potential of Candida albicans. Candida albicans is a fungus known for being largely responsible for systemic infections associated with medical device implants and other immunocompromised conditions. As a dimorphic fungus, it is capable forming complex biofilms resistant to host immune and antifungal treatments. The majority of research so far has focused on the formation of biofilms on soft mucous membranes and hard medical devices. However, the pathogenicity of the fungus stems from the increased virulence of dispersed yeast cells of its biofilm, not from the biofilm itself. In order to further understand the pathways that lead to dispersion from the biofilms, the team has proposed microfluidic device designs for quantification and microscopic analysis of the dispersed virulent cells. Moving forward, the goal of this project is to advance the design to allow for quantitative measurements of alternate mutant strains’ dispersion potential as well as the effects of different media conditions simultaneously.

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Team members from left to right: Jonathan Evans, Patricia Stan, James Johnston, Heather Barnwell, Brooke Aschbacher

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