EventsAssoc. Prof. Dr. Savaş Tay

Understanding and Manipulating Cellular Dynamics Using Microfluidics

Cells receive signaling inputs, use gene regulatory pathways to process these signals, and generate outputs by secreting signaling molecules. Characterizing this input-output function helps understanding the underlying regulatory mechanisms and allows building predictive models. Significant variability in molecular parameters between cells makes time-dependent single-cell and single-molecule analysis crucial in understanding how biological systems operate. I will talk about how we developed automated, high-throughput microfluidic single-cell and single-molecule analysis systems with unprecedented capabilities and measurement accuracy, and how we use them in understanding immune coordination during response to infection. Our recent efforts have resulted in a new set of technologies, including microfluidic systems to measure single-cell cytokine secretion dynamics, cell culture systems that create programmable diffusion-based chemical gradients, devices to measure cell-cell communication via secreted factors, and a new method for digital quantification of proteins and mRNA in the same cell. I will also talk about new biological insight emanated from our experimental and modeling efforts on how single-cells detect and encode dose and frequency information of an input signal using the immune pathway NF-κB, and how molecular noise improves dynamic signal encoding and decoding. The primary goal in our combined technology/cell biology effort is to help develop computer models of tissue-level immune response that will serve as a test-bed for drug or genetic perturbations on disease pathways.

  1. Tay, et al. Nature 466, 267-271 (2010)
  2. A. Kellogg & S. Tay. Cell 160, 381-392 (2015)
  3. A. Kellogg, C. Tian, T. Lipniacki, S. Quake, S. Tay. eLife 4: e08931 (2015)

About The Speaker

Savas Tay is a bioengineer and systems biologist who aims to understand how biological systems work from an engineer’s perspective, and use this knowledge to manipulate cells and gene networks to help cure diseases. On the technology front, his lab develops high-throughput and high-content single-cell analysis methods by combining microfluidics and optics.
Dr. Tay graduated from Marmara University in Istanbul, with degrees in Physics and Education. He received his PhD from the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona in 2008, where he developed the world’s first updateable holographic display. He then took a postdoctoral position at Stanford University Bioengineering Department. From 2011 until 2016, Dr. Tay worked as an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering, ETH Zurich, in Switzerland. Before joining University of Chicago, Professor Tay has published 30 papers in journals including Nature, Cell and PNAS, and gave more than 100 invited talks and conference presentations around the world.