K-State engineer receives NSF grant to build technology for analyzing gene expression
Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023
MANHATTAN — A Kansas State University engineering professor is developing technology to study complex biological processes at the single-cell level.
Shih-Kang "Scott" Fan, professor in the Alan Levin Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at K-State, has received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to use electromicrofluidics to study gene versions at the single-cell level and create multimodal maps of gene isoforms.
Fan will lead a three-year project, "Collaborative Research: Multimodal Mapping of Gene Isoforms by Electromicrofluidic Manipulation," alongside co-principal investigator Pak Kin Wong, professor of biomedical engineering at Pennsylvania State University.
"Cells produce different versions of genes for the functioning of organisms in various situations from the same genetic material," Fan said. "However, current methods cannot precisely analyze their expression within the organism. Studying different protein versions is challenging because existing tools may not distinguish between them."
Fan said this project aims to develop electromicrofluidics, combining electricity, engineered gels and cell culture on a microchip to automatically study gene versions at the single-cell level. This technology will provide insights into how these different gene versions function in complex biological processes involving multiple cells, such as development, growth and repair.
The project will focus on mapping the Neurogenic locus notch homolog protein, or NOTCH, family members in migrating cell monolayers to evaluate their regulatory functions in collective cell migration.