Lab-on-a-chip work honoured by award

A researcher in the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases has been recognised for his engineering innovations to streamline production of customised 'lab-on-a-chips' - microchips for speeding up biomedical analysis.

Congratulations to Dr Crispin Szydzik, who has been awarded the RMIT David Beanland Prize for Best PhD Thesis in Engineering in 2019! The prize is based on examiners' reports and number of Scopus-indexed publications (weighted on quality) for that year.

Crispin is a current postdoctoral fellow (and previous PhD Student) in the Haematology Micro-platforms group in the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD). Crispin's thesis focused on developing novel fabrication methods for lab-on-chip systems. He created an injection moulding approach enabling custom designed micro-chips - each with dozens of automated valves and pumps - to be rapidly fabricated in quantities suited to biomedical experiments.

Crispin developed technology enabling chips that shrank whole pathology lab assays and mimicked organs on a chip the size of a microscope slide, for sensing environmental contaminants, biomolecules and cancer cell studies, and to help find new anti-clotting drugs for heart attacks and strokes.

Crispin developed blood compatible microchips that incorporate sophisticated automation using blood pumps and valves, and is currently continuing this work, integrating flow-based platelet function assay systems, and developing haematology testing platforms within the Haematology Micro-platforms group at the ACBD.

"I am delighted with the prize. It is an indication of the growing interest in the versatility and power of the lab- and organ-on-a-chip technology. It doesn't replace in vivo research, since a physiological mechanism ultimately has to be understood in context with a whole, interactive living system.

"This technology, however, can massively speed up certain analyses, and can allow for high resolution investigation of targeted phenomena that can otherwise be difficult to study, for example flow based platelet-function analysis, for which we are currently developing several automated diagnostic devices," Crispin said.