Coulter BME Seminar Series

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Building an Intestine on a Micro-Scale: Simplicity Is Elegance

Nancy L. Allbritton, M.D., Ph.D.
Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering
Professor of Bioengineering
University of Washington

Biomedical microdevices, which include miniaturized assay systems and microphysiological systems, have undergone rapid advances in recent decades. This innovation is driven by a range of needs including automated, high-though put assay of ultra-small-sized samples and recapitulation of cellular or organ physiology with a precisely controlled microenvironment. A critical aspect in microdevice development is not only the engineering specifications and principles that guide construction but also the need to ensure that the devices are scalable, manufacturable, reproducible, and accurate. Simple yet elegant designs create platforms that are readily adopted by non-engineering experts facilitating widespread usage and ultimately commercialization. A micro-scale intestine that embody this “simple yet elegant” design strategy will be presented. These and other advances in biomedical microdevices are paving the way for rapid discoveries in basic and pharmaceutical sciences, as well as personalized medicine.

Dr. Nancy L. Allbritton joined the University of Washington as the Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering in November 2019. In that capacity, she serves as the chief academic officer of the college and provides leadership to over 279 faculty and more than 8,000 students. The College of Engineering is a top-15 nationally ranked public university program with annual research expenditures exceeding $159 million.  

Allbritton is an international expert on multiplexed single-cell assays, microfabricated platforms for high-content cytometry combined with cell sorting, and microengineered stem-cell-based systems for recapitulating human organ-level function. Four companies have been formed based on her research discoveries: Protein Simple (acquired by Bio-Techne in 2014), Intellego, Cell Microsystems, and Altis Biosystems. Allbritton holds an appointment in the UW’s Department of Bioengineering.  She has been nationally recognized for her research and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors.  

Prior to joining the UW, Allbritton led the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University which spans two universities and three colleges.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Joshua Stewart
  • Created:02/17/2022
  • Modified By:Joshua Stewart
  • Modified:02/17/2022


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