Research Exchange Program

Program Description

To support a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative research environment, EBICS sponsors a Research Exchange Program. This program allows Center students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty who are working on collaborative projects to visit another laboratory to learn/transfer new methods and techniques, to develop professional relationships and collaborations, and to help integrate research efforts within EBICS. EBICS sponsored exchange visits will range from a few days to a few weeks, and will support travel, living, and housing expenses during the exchange period.


All current EBICS researchers at all EBICS institutions, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members working on EBICS projects are eligible and encouraged to submit proposals here, and follow up with the respective Director/ Associate Director.

Selection and Management

EBICS research exchanges will be selected based on their importance in achieving the goals of the research project(s), in facilitating the intra-EBICS interactions, and the need to transfer and apply specific technologies developed in the EBICS labs. In addition, the educational and training value of the exchange will also be considered.

Proposal Submission

We particularly encourage our partner institutions and MSIs to take advantage of this program. Research exchanges are an integral part our education effort. Students at our core and partner institutions should use this opportunity to learn innovative techniques that further their EBICS research. See the application information on the left to get started.

Past Research Exchanges

July 14, 2014 to July 16, 2014

Optogenetic Skeletal Muscle Powered Bio-bots

Ritu Raman, Vincent Chan, H. Harry Asada, Rashid Bashir

Ritu Raman and Vincent Chan worked on integrating how muscle strips are made, both in scale and functionality, with bio-bots, but with certain modifications (make new molds that are conducive to making "rubber bands" instead of long strips etc.) The project also involved breeding rats and cardiac muscle strip fabrication in action.
July 13, 2014 to July 27, 2014

3D Cultures of C2C12 and Stem Cell Derived Neurons

Brian Williams, Sebastien Uzel, Roger Kamm, Taher Saif

Brian worked with Sebastien to learn his procedure for culturing 3D cultures of C2C12 and stem cell derived neurons capable of forming neuromuscular junctions in a microfluidic channel.  The goal is to extend this technique to selectively culture neurons and myoblasts on discrete locations of the swimming biobot with the goal of achieving neuromuscular junctions on a motile platform capable of being stimulated optogenetically.  
July 7, 2014

Differentiation of EBs and Creation of Neural Tubes

Caroline Cvetkovic, Raymond Swetenburg, Steven Stice, Rashid Bashir

Caroline learned Raymond's protocol for differentiating and handling embryoid bodies (EBs) made of motor neurons from differentiated mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), as well as a process by which to extrude the EBs into a 'neural tube'. We believe this can be applied to our muscle-based bio-bots to form functional neuromuscular junctions (NMJs), which is a high-priority goal in EBICS before the Dec. 2014 site visit for both the stopbot/flapbot as well as the NMJ working groups
September 11, 2013 to September 13, 2013

'Floating Fascicle Construct' technique of muscle strip fabrication

Raymond Swetenburg, Devin Neal, Apoorva Kalasuramath

The purpose of this Research Exchange was to share the 'floating fascicle construct' technique of muscle strip fabrication towards the goal of developing a force actuator for biological machines. Specifically, this program will enable the use of a novel technique in combination with the Stice and Garcia labs experience in creating a synthetic hydrogel environment for C2C12 mouse skeletal myoblasts.
April 7, 2013 to April 14, 2013

Investigation of MSC and ESC-derived vascular progenitor cell interactions in microvascular network formation

Lisa McGinley

Sponsor Laboratory: Bob Nerem, GT PI Host Laboratory: Kara McCloskey, UCM PI   The McCloskey lab has developed a functioning protocol for derivation of endothelial cells from embryonic stem cells. The goal of this research exchange was to learn and perform this differentiation method in the McCloskey lab.
January 20, 2013 to February 8, 2013

Microvascular Networks

Drew Glaser, Jordan Ari Whisler

Sponsor Laboratory: Kara McCloskey, UCM PI Host Laboratory: Roger Kamm, MIT PI Drew traveled to MIT to learn how to make and assemble the microfluidic devices that Dr. Kamm's lab created. She is now using these chips to create microvascular networks in vitro using stem cell derived populations of vascular cells.
October 5, 2012

Emergent length scales in patterning of cellular lattices

Stas Shvartsman, Bomyi Lim

Sponsor Laboratory: Stas Shvartsman, Princeton PI Host Laboratory: Ron Weiss, MIT PI
June 26, 2012 to June 27, 2012

Developing a general tissue engineering platform

Devin Neal

Sponsor Laboratory: Harry Asada, MIT PI Host Laboratory: Rashid Bashir, UIUC PI
February 18, 2012 to February 23, 2012

Quantitative Imaging of Neural Progenitor Cell Differentiation

Anirban Majumder

Sponsor Laboratory: Steven Stice, UGA PI Host Laboratory: Gabriel Popescu, UIUC PI This exchange focused on using a novel quantitative phase image technology known as Spatial Light Interference Microscopy (SLIM) [Wang et al., Opt. Exp., 19, 2011] to measure cellular dry mass, mass transport and dynamics during the differentiation process of human neural progenitor (NP) cells. In Prof. Stice’s lab we had earlier derived a novel technique for differentiating human embryonic stem (ES) cells to neural progenitors cells in a chemically defined environment. By eliminating the traditional requirements for serum and feeder cells, the usability of these NP cells in research and therapy are vastly increased. Moreover, these NP cells are easy to expand, and can be differentiated as required to generate unlimited numbers of human nerve cells. Thorough characterization of the differentiation process in these cells in terms of mass transport dynamics was previously not possible, but SLIM has opened up this possibility. SLIM has already been demonstrated to have the ability to simultaneously measure three processes central to the understanding of developmental biology: Cell growth [Mir et al, PNAS, 108, 2011], Mass Transport [Wang et al, J. Phys. Cond. Matt., 23, 2011] and Motility [Sridharan et al, Biomed. Opt. Exp, 2, 2011]. In addition SLIM has the ability to integrate with other commonly used modalities such as fluorescence and perform tomographic measurements [Wang et al, Opt. Exp., 19, 2011]. We had previously demonstrated live cell imaging for up to a week, covering millimeter size areas with subcellular resolution. Thus the unique capabilities provided by SLIM allow for quantitatively characterizing a cell culture at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. For studying cellular differentiation we characterized changes in the dry mass density maps over time.  Furthermore, SLIM’s tomographic capabilities can be used to study changes in the 3D structure of differentiating cells. We expected that these measurements would provide unique insights into the differentiation process.
July 5, 2011 to July 8, 2011

Addressing stochasticity and heterogeneity of cellular signaling through control systems modeling

Catherine Rivet, Devin Neal

Sponsor Laboratory: Melissa Kemp, GT PI Host Laboratory: Harry Asada, MIT PI Calcium and Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are ubiquitous signaling molecules involved in various cellular processes, such as cell division, differentiation or apoptosis. Experimental data suggests that a very tight cross-regulation between those second messenger molecules is required for cell decision-making; however current experimental testing approaches do not take into account the variability between individual cells in microclusters or populations. Dr. Kemp's lab developed microfluidic devices that passively capture single cells in suspension, deliver chemicals and image single cell dynamic responses. This tool allows for monitoring calcium and ROS dynamics to environmental cues changing spatially or temporally at the single cell level. This microfluidic platform has been built for data collection in combination with an ODE model recapitulating cross-talk between these molecules. The deterministic model will be analyzed in the frequency domain to highlight the most important nodes and feedbacks within the calcium/ROS regulatory network. Such an analysis will enable our objective, which is to reduce the complexity of the described biochemical reactions into a predictive but lower dimension model. Dr. Asada's lab has expertise in dynamic systems and control and has developed new computational methods based on control theory incorporating stochastic events. By combining these new algorithms to the deterministic model of redox regulation of calcium signaling, this exchange focused on creating a comprehensive signaling system encompassing behaviors of unicellular but also the long term goal of multicellular systems. Thus, this new collaboration between GT and MIT laboratories directly contributed to the objectives of EBICS research by examining phenotype dynamics (in space and time) and by modeling heterogeneity in cell populations used for sourcing.
June 28, 2011 to June 30, 2011

Creating vascular networks in a microfluidic device using stem-cell derived endothelial cells

Jordan Ari Whisler, Sarah Griffiths

Sponsor Laboratory: Roger Kamm, MIT PI Host Laboratory: Bob Nerem, GT PI The Nerem lab developed a protocol to produce endothelial cells derived from stem cells. It was of great interest to determine the ability of these cells to produce functional vascular networks in vitro. The Kamm lab developed a platform to study such network formation on a microfluidic chip. As part of this exchange, Jordan Whisler (Kamm Lab) trained a member of the Nerem lab how to perform the Kamm Lab 'network formation' assay so that she could use it to study the functionality of her cells.    
June 28, 2011 to July 5, 2011

Differentiation of embryonic stem cells in a versatile microenvironment created by 3-dimensional stereolithography

Piyush Bajaj

Sponsor Laboratory: Rashid Bashir, UIUC PI Host Laboratory: Todd McDevitt, GT PI The McDevitt lab has expertise in stem cell engineering and the Bashir lab has expertise in 3-dimensional printing using the SLA. Using the knowledge learned from the host’s lab about the differentiation of ESCs and to maintain their pure population, the Piyush was able to use them with the SLA. This was used to gain a better understanding about tissue morphogenesis and also development of heterogeneous cell populations that could be used by other EBICS researchers. As the Bashir lab was also working on development of an autonomous biobot using the SLA, the techniques learned from the McDevitt lab also helped direct the differentiation of ESCs in the structures built by an SLA (by changing the stiffness and geometry of the biomaterial) and the emerging behavior of biological systems continued to be studied.
June 1, 2010 to August 14, 2010

Culture Techniques of Murine ES Cells

Alexandra Peister

In the summer of 2010, Morehouse College researcher Dr. Alexandria Peister spent 10 weeks at MIT in the laboratory of Dr. Roger Kamm. Dr. Peister reported that her research exchange at MIT allowed her to learn new research techniques essential for her EBICS research project. The project for which I am the lead researcher for the STC is to develop a protocol to efficiently produce skeletal muscle cells from stem cells. I have extensive experience working with adult stem cells, but I had not yet worked with embryonic stem (ES) cells. At MIT I worked with a graduate student in the Kamm Lab, Cherry Wan, to learn the culture techniques of murine ES cells. I was also able to use ES cells labeled with a marker to efficiently track the ES cells as they differentiated to cardiac muscle. Before I left MIT, I began examining protocols for the skeletal muscle differentiation of the ES cells. Since returning to Morehouse College Dr. Peister has begun teaching the undergraduate research assistants in her laboratory the ES cell differentiation techniques she learned while at MIT.