UROP Openings

Have a UROP opening you would like to submit?

Please fill out the form.

Submit your UROP opening

Cell Imaging and Culture with Novel Hydrogel Microcarriers (MCs)


IAP and Spring


2: Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Supervisor:

Nicholas Xuanlai Fang

Faculty email:


Apply by:


Ali Ramazani: ramazani@mit.edu

Project Description

Cell culture techniques are vital to the study of cell structure, function and differentiation, and for the production of many important biological materials such as vaccines, enzymes, hormones, antibodies, interferons and nucleic acids. Microcarriers (MCs) are small particles suspended in stirred culture environment, which are used for fast, low cost and large-scale cell culturing. In fact, MC culture introduces new possibilities and, for the first time, makes possible the practical high-yield culture of anchorage- dependent cells. In MC culture, cells grow as monolayers on the surface of small spheres or as multilayers in the pores of macroporous structures that are usually suspended in culture medium by gentle stirring. MCs can also increase the culturing yield, facilitate downstream processing and protect fragile cells from physical and chemical stress. Therefore, material choice and structural design are crucial for MC manufacturing, where the physical rigidity of MC and cell-MC adhesion for cell loading, nutrition diffusion for cell survival and optical properties in cell monitoring should be considered. The current research aims to develop new manufacturing technologies for massive production of MCs. Here, the following steps will be considered: Firstly, Stop-flow type lithography and sol-gel methods will be carried out to produce new kind of temperature-responsive MCs with porous structures. Secondly, Characterization of the physical properties and biological compatibilities of the created MCs will be done to optimize the manufacturing process. Thirdly, cell culture and cell imaging tests will be done. Students who participate in this project would gain experiences in advanced micro-, and nano- manufacturing, microfluidic technology, materials characterization, cell culturing, and imaging. The project is a good opportunity for the students who are interested in technology entrepreneurship since MCs are widely applied for commercial applications. The goal of the UROP project would be: 1. Fabrication of MCs through different processes 2. Characterizing the physical and optical properties of developed MCs including rigidity, bulk/shear modulus, cell-carrier adhesion force, and refractive index for cell loading/monitoring. 3. Evaluating and optimizing the topological design of MCs and the manufacturing process regarding production yield, uniformity, cost-effectiveness, and physical/chemical stability. 4. Performing cell culturing test on MCs to evaluate the biocompatibility of the microcarriers. 5. Study the temperature-responsive properties of MCs and their application for cell release and downstream processing.


1. Undergraduate-level knowledge of polymerization. 2. Undergraduate-level knowledge of fluidics. 3. Undergraduate-level knowledge of bio-engineering. 4. General lab experience for imaging, and optical engineering