Ultralow-input Microfluidic Assays for Epigenomic Profiling: Technology, Biology, and Medicine

Friday, December 7, 2018 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
The FUNG Auditorium
Chang Lu

Fred W. Bull Professor of Chemical Engineering at Virginia Tech

Ultralow-input Microfluidic Assays for Epigenomic Profiling: Technology, Biology, and Medicine


Epigenome dictates turning on and off genes during normal development and diseases, forming another layer of regulation on top of gene sequence. Epigenome is cell-type-specific and highly dynamic over the course of disease and treatment thus offers a treasure trove of information for precision medicine. However, there is a giant gap between the number of cells that can be derived from patient samples and millions of cells per assay required by conventional epigenomic assays.

In this seminar, I will discuss the role of microfluidics in conducting genome-wide epigenetic analysis using scarce samples derived from mice and patients. I will argue that microfluidics uniquely facilitates multi-step molecular biology manipulation required by epigenomic assays and interface between the assays and next-generation sequencing. I will describe the microfluidic technologies developed in my lab for profiling histone modifications and DNA methylation. These technologies work in the 30-200 cells per assay range and offer data quality comparable to those of conventional assays. I will also discuss the biological insights we generated into cancer development and brain functions.


Dr. Chang Lu is the Fred W. Bull professor of chemical engineering at Virginia Tech. Dr. Lu obtained his B.S. in Chemistry with honors from Peking University in 1998 and PhD in Chemical Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2002. He then spent 2 years as a postdoc in Applied Physics at Cornell University. His lab has been developing a variety of microfluidic tools for gene delivery, single cell analysis, and molecular biology over the years. Their recent interests have been in developing biotechnologies for profiling cell-type-specific epigenomes using a low number of cells. These technologies have proven useful for generating new insights into diseases ranging from cancer to mental disorders. His lab has published in leading journals such as Nature Methods, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Science Advances, and Nature Protocols. Dr. Lu received Wallace Coulter Foundation Early Career Award, NSF CAREER Award, and VT Dean’s award for research excellence among a number of honors.