Petit Institute Seminar

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"Separation/Isolation of Cells; From Fundamentals to Specific Research/production and Clinical Applications"

Jeffrey Chalmers, Ph.D.
William G Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 
Director, Analytical Cytometry Shared Resource
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
The Ohio State University

In this presentation, I wish to describe my laboratory’s journey from taking more fundamental studies of magnetic cell separation (i.e. Navier-Stokes equation and magnetic body force) to our extensive involvement in the isolation and characterization of targeted cells, including cancer, and cancer associated cells, from the blood of cancer patients.  We are not only interested in the strictly defined circulating tumor cells, CTC, but we are also venturing into characterizing the plethora of other unusual cells in the blood of these cancer patients.  Given the highly interdisciplinary nature of this work, in this presentation I wish to attempt to present aspects of this work which will appeal to traditional Engineering researchers through to clinical researchers interested in developing diagnostics not just for diagnosis and prognosis of cancer but also the effectiveness of experimental drugs/treatments and potential cell therapy applications. 

Mankind is currently experiencing a revolution in our understanding of biological processes, from those occurring in "simple" bacteria to those occurring in human beings. Like other scientific revolutions of the past, rapid scientific advances lead to rapid development of engineering disciplines to assist in the understanding and application of this new knowledge. We are seeing this take place today in the development of the discipline of "bioengineering." Bioengineering is a broad term and includes the application of engineering principles to biological processes.

Jeff Chalmer’s research is in the area of bioengineering. He has current interest/ projects in the broad areas of cell culture, ranging from the study of human stem and cancer cells to industrially relevant cells. He also has interest in the emerging area of functional genomics, especially as it is related to cell culture, cell separation, and cancer cells.

One specific project involves the ability to identify and separate cells based on specific immunological markers. In collaboration with a colleague at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Chalmers has developed three new, patented immunomagnetic instruments. One of these instruments is an analytical device, while the other two are separation instruments. All three of these instruments have a large number of applications as indicated by the research support that includes the National Cancer Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Whitaker Foundation, and a private corporation. Some of these applications include: human stem cell separation for bone marrow transplants, isolation/separation of rare cancer cells circulating in human blood, and identification and separation of genetically engineered cells with specific phenotypes. Besides studying the engineering principles of this separation approach, exciting fundamental and applied biological questions are being addressed with respect to these isolated cells using the latest molecular techniques.

Another research area involves the development of better fundamental understanding and scale-up criteria for bioprocesses using animal cells. While large-scale animal cell culture has become quite common, a number of important questions/issues remain unresolved. For example, what is the optimum hydrodynamic environment for a suspended or anchorage- dependent cell? What is the mechanism of action, from a molecular point of view, of surface active agents in cell culture medium? Finally, the Chalmers research group is exploring collaborations with systems research faculty to develop approaches to understand the great wealth of genetic information which is rapidly becoming available. This research will have specific applications with respect to the cancer cell separation projects as well as more general interest.

The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, an internationally recognized hub of multidisciplinary research at the Georgia Institute of Technology, brings engineers, scientists, and clinicians together to solve some of the world’s most complex health challenges. With 17 research centers, more than 170 faculty members, and $24 million in state-of-the-art facilities, the Petit Institute is translating scientific discoveries into game-changing solutions to solve real-world problems.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Colly Mitchell
  • Created: 11/16/2015
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 04/13/2017

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