Josephine Bagnall, PhD



(617) 324-4211


Research Focus

My research focuses on the design and application of microfluidic devices and integrated instrumentation to answer a variety of biological questions, often from a unique biophysical perspective. For example, I created a device for cell synchronization operated solely by pressure gradients, motivated by the need to synchronize cells without the use of growth-perturbing chemicals. I have also delved into fundamental cancer biology, utilizing and refining precision biophysical measurement technology to elucidate single-cell deformability characteristics of various tumor cells involved in different stages of metastasis. In particular, I observed how cells alter their deformability while undergoing phenotypic transitions as well as while they are in the circulation, potentially on their way to seed new metastatic lesions. Currently, I am working on developing technological assays to evaluate the binding interaction of immune cells, which I hope will ultimately elucidate ways in which HIV infection could be prevented, controlled, or treated. Overall, my interest in fundamental biological sciences and clinical medicine motivates my efforts in developing and applying novel instrumentation, including microfluidic devices, optics, and electronics.

Teaching Goals

As an instructor, my goal is to help students construct their own knowledge and enable them to apply what they have learned in a practical context. By being with the students in an instrumentation laboratory, I hope not just to convey information to students, but guide their thinking such that they are able to arrive upon a thorough knowledge of the basic principles related to bioinstrumentation. In the process, students will be able to work out what they have learned by designing and building instruments with their own hands. I believe a crucial part to educating the next generation of engineers is to provide them the context and resources they need to apply fundamental knowledge in the laboratory and in their daily lives.

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