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Dr. Unyoung (Ashley) Kim
Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering
Prof. Kim is an Assistant Professor at Santa Clara University where she serves as the Director of the Biological Microtechnology Laboratory. Professor Kim is a mechanical engineer by training with an emphasis on the integrated microfluidic systems for biotechnologies. She graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara with her Ph.D. and Certificate in College and University Teaching (CCUT) in 2009 and joined the Bioengineering faculty at Santa Clara University in 2009.
Current Research Interests
Prof. Kim’s research interests involve the investigation of integrated microfluidic systems to address challenging needs in the biomedical applications.
Development of rapid and sensitive biosensors: The detection of rare analytes, such as cancer cells and bacterial pathogens, is a difficult task because such entities can be very rare components in complex mixtures, but even at low concentrations can be successful instigators of disease. It is therefore important to develop sensitive detectors capable of differentiating cells in complex mixture, including blood, bodily fluids, drinking water and food. Detection in a closed, disposable microfluidic chip is preferable to eliminate contamination, which is critical for these types of samples. The outcomes of such detection can be utilized in clinical testing, epidemiology and field-capable monitoring platforms.
Experimental platforms for systems biology: In addition to the detection of the rare cells, an increased capability to further isolate and analyze individual biological cells plays major role in understanding many biological processes in systems biology. However, the complexity of biological systems causes accurate and precise systems biology experimentation to be a difficult task. Systems biology experimentation can benefit greatly from the development of microfluidic devices. The ability to massively array devices on a chip can realize high-throughput experimentation, in addition to aiding accurate and precise understanding of the intertwined signaling systems that compose the inner workings of the cell.
Bioinstrumentation used for affinity reagent selection: Affinity reagents, such as small molecules, antibodies, peptides and aptamers, are widely used in many areas of bioscience, but the methods used to isolate and evolve these reagents from a large library of possible reagents are often time-consuming requiring many rounds of selection, and resource-intensive. Integrated microfluidic systems can accelerate these processes through 1) reduction of volumes, which decreases reagent usage and can increase reaction kinetics due to small diffusion lengths; 2) increases in assay speed due to improved thermal transfer; and 3) integration of many separate steps onto a single device, which increases throughput further. Increases in the availability of affinity reagents isolated using microfluidic technology promise to provide new reagents for biosensing and aid in the design and development of novel therapeutics.