Albert Folch

Associate Professor
Phone: (206)685-2257
Office: Foege N430N

UW Bioengineering faculty Albert Folch

Lab Website
How I am inventing the future of medicine
The goal of the Folch lab is to make microfluidic devices as easy and intuitive to use as smartphones. We are developing the next generation of microfluidic devices for applications in automated cell culture, neuroscience research, cancer diagnostics, and cancer therapy
Research Interests
3D-Printing & Soft lithography
Axon guidance
Miniature cell-based devices
High-throughput single-cell analysis
Research Description
Our lab focuses on developing microdevices that facilitate the advancement of basic neuroscience and translational cancer applications. Our long-term mission is to make microfluidic devices as intuitive to use as smartphones and make them easily available to biomedical scientists in order to enable novel quantitative experiments, diagnostics, and therapies. In general, microfabrication technology allows us to address large numbers of single cells with sub-cellular resolution, resulting in statistically-rich single-cell data. Toward that goal, we develop advanced general-purpose microfluidic technology (such as microvalves, combinatorial micromixers, and cell traps), and computer algorithms for high-throughput recognition of sub-cellular morphology.
PhD, Surface Science and Nanotechnology, University of Barcelona, Spain, 1994
Visiting Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, 1990-1991
BS, Physics, University of Barcelona, Spain, 1989
Postdoc Information
Postdoctoral Associate (Center for Engineering in Medicine), Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 1997-2000
Postdoctoral Fellow (Chemistry Dept. and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Dept.), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1994-1997
Awards and Honors
2014 Elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows (Class of 2015).
2013 MicroTAS Executive Technical Program Committee member
2013-present JoVE Editorial Board member – Bioengineering
2010-present Lab on a Chip Art editor, in charge of “Art on a Chip” website
2009-present “Microfluidic Art” exhibits at Harborview Medical Center (Feb 2009-April 2009), UW Meany Theater (Sep 2009-Sep 2010), at the UW Allen Library (Sep 2010-Mar 2011), and at the Biomedical Engineering Society Meeting in Seattle (Sept. 2013), among others.
2006-present Lab on a Chip Advisory Board editor
2006 NASA Space Act Award
2001-2006 NSF CAREER Award
1995-96 Postdoctoral fellowship, Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain
1991-94 Ph.D. Fellowship, Ministry of Science and Education, Spain
1989-1990 Visiting Student Fellowship, Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain
UW Bioengineering Courses Taught
Selected Publications
Folch, A. and Toner, M. “Microengineering of Cellular Interactions”, Annual Reviews of Biomedical Engineering, 2: 227 (2000).

Tourovskaia, A., Barber, T., Wickes, B., Hirdes, D., Grin, B., Castner, D. G., Healy, K. E., and Folch, A. Micropatterns of Chemisorbed Cell Adhesion-Repellent Films Using Oxygen Plasma Etching and Elastomeric Masks”, Langmuir 19: 4754 (2002).

Chen, C., Hirdes, D., and Folch, A. “Gray-Scale Photolithography Using Microfluidic Photomasks”, Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, 100:1499 (2003).

Li, N., Tourovskaia, A., and Folch, A. “Biology on a Chip: Microfabrication in Cell Culture Studies”, Critical Reviews in Biomedical Engineering 31: 423 (2003).

Neils, C. M., Tyree, Z., Finlayson, B., and Folch, A. “Combinatorial Mixing of Microfluidic Streams”, Lab On a Chip 4, 342 (2004).

Hsu, C.-H., Chen, C., and Folch, A. “‘Microcanals’ for Micropipette Access to Single Cells in Microfluidic Environments”, Lab On a Chip 4, 420 (2004).

Hoffman, J., Shao, J., Hsu, C.-H., and Folch, A. “Elastomeric Molds with Tunable Microtopography”, Advanced Materials (2004) 16, 2201.

Tourovskaia, A., Figueroa-Masot, X., and Folch, A. “Differentiation-on-a-chip: A Microfluidic Platform For Long-Term Cell Culture Studies”, Lab On a Chip 5, 14 (2005).

Hsu, C.-H. and Folch, A. “Microfluidic Devices with Tunable Microtopographies”, Applied Physics Letters 86, 023508 (2005).

Rettig, J.R. and Folch, A. “Large-Scale Single-Cell Trapping and Imaging Using Microwell Arrays”, Analytical Chemistry77, 5628 (2005)

Li, N. and Folch, A. “Integration of topographical and biochemical cues by axons during growth on microfabricated 3-D substrates”, Experimental Cell Research311, 307 (2005).

T.F. Kosar, Tourovskaia, A., Figueroa-Masot, X., Adams, M., and Folch, A. “A Nanofabricated Planar Aperture as a Mimic of the Nerve-Muscle Contact During Synaptogenesis”, Lab Chip 6, 632 (2006). –> featured in Chemical Biology (top-viewed article in May 2006) and in the Faculty of 1000 Biology .

Tourovskaia, A., T.F. Kosar, and Folch, A. “Local Induction of Acetylcholine Receptor Clustering in Myotube Cultures Using Microfluidic Application of Agrin”, Biophysical Journal 90, 2192 (2006).

Frevert, C.W., Boggy, G., Keenan, T.M., and Folch, A. “Measurement of Cell Migration in Response to an Evolving Radial Chemokine Gradient Triggered by a Microvalve”, Lab on a Chip 6, 849 (2006) –> cited in the cover .

Keenan, T.M., Hsu, C.-H., and Folch, A. “Microfluidic “Jets” for Generating Steady-State Gradients of Soluble Molecules on Open Surfaces”, Applied Physics Letters89, 114103 (2006) –> featured in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science & Technology (Vol. 14, Iss. 13) and in the Virtual Journal of Biological Physics Research (Vol. 12, Iss. 6) .

Tourovskaia, A., Figueroa-Masot, X. and Folch, A., “Long-term Microfluidic Cultures of Myotube Microarrays for High-Throughput Focal Stimulation”, Nature Protocols1, 1092 (2006).

Chen, C. and Folch, A., “A High-Performance Elastomeric Patch Clamp Chip”, Lab on a Chip (2006), 6, 1338.

Hsu, C.-H. and Folch, A., “Spatiotemporally- Complex Concentration Profiles Using a Tunable Chaotic Micromixer”, Applied Physics Letters 89, 144102 (2006) –> featured in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science & Technology (Vol. 14, Iss. 16) .

Lam, E.W., Cooksey, G.A., Finlayson, B.A., and Folch, A., “Microfluidic Circuits with Tunable Flow Resistances”, Applied Physics Letters (2006), 89, 164105 (2006) –> featured in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science & Technology (Vol. 14, Iss. 18) .

Keenan, T.M. and Folch, A. “Biomolecular gradients in cell culture systems”, Lab Chip 8: 35-57 (2008) –> Cited in the cover.

Sidorova, J.M., Li, N., Folch, A., and Monnat Jr., R. “The RecQ helicase WRN is required for normal replication fork progression after DNA damage or replication”, Cell Cycle 7, 796 (2008).

Tourovskaia, A., Li, N., and Folch, A., “Localized acetylcholine receptor clustering dynamics in response to microfluidic focal stimulation with agrin”, Biophys. J. 95: 3009 (2008).

Cooksey, G.A., Sip, C.G., and Folch, A., “A Multi-Purpose Microfluidic Perfusion System with Combinatorial Choice of Inputs, Mixtures, Gradient Patterns, and Flow Rates”, Lab Chip 9, 417 (2009).

Sidorova, J.M. Li, N., Schwartz, D.C., Folch, A., and Monnat Jr., R.J. “Microfluidic-assisted analysis of replicating DNA molecules”, Nature Protocols 4: 849 (2009).

Bhattacharjee, N., Li, N., Keenan, T.M., and Folch, A. “A Neuron-Benign Microfluidic Gradient Generator for Studying the Growth of Mammalian Neurons towards Axon Guidance Factors”, Integrative Biology 2, 669 (2010).

Keenan, T.M., Frevert, C.W., Wu, A., Wong, V., and Folch, A. “A New Method for Studying Gradient-Induced Neutrophil Desensitization Based on an Open Microfluidic Chamber”, Lab Chip 10: 116 (2010).

Figueroa, X.A., Cooksey, G.A., Votaw, S.V., Horowitz, L.F., and Folch, A. “Large-Scale Investigation of the Olfactory Receptor Space Using a Microfluidic Microwell Array”, Lab Chip 10: 1120 (2010).  Cover article.

Ellen Tenstad, Anna Tourovskaia, A. Folch, Ola Myklebost, and Edith Rian, “Extensive adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation of patterned human mesenchymal stem cells in a microfluidic device”, Lab Chip 10: 1401 (2010).  inner-cover article.

H. Lai and A. Folch, “Design and characterization of “single-stroke” peristaltic PDMS micropumps”, Lab Chip 11, 336 (2011).

Scott, K. Weir, C. Easton, W. Huynh., W.J. Moody, and A. Folch, “A microfluidic microelectrode array for simultaneous electrophysiology, chemical stimulation, and imaging of brain slices”, Lab Chip 13, 527 (2013).

K.W. Moyes, C.G. Sip, W. Obenza, E. Yang, C. Horst, R.E. Welikson, S.D. Hauschka, A. Folch, and M.A. Laflamme, “Human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes migrate in response to gradients of fibronectin and Wnt5a”, accepted to Stem Cells and Development (2013).


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