Microscale Systems Core

The Microscale Systems Core provides innovative technologies to transform organotypic culture models from standard assay formats to high throughput screening formats. Core technologies include microfluidic systems (e.g. iFAST and viscous fingering systems described in the Cancer MAPs Project) and automated liquid handling (e.g. robotic liquid handling described in the Liver MAPs Project). A wide range of previous studies have demonstrated the H-MAPs team’s ability to create novel Microscale Systems that are enabling and practical for use not only by engineers, but also by biologists, clinicians, and toxicologists (see reviews from Beebe and coworkers). We have recently shown that such Microscale Systems can be used to create and screen organotypic models of human breast cancer with automation and high throughput. Specific ways in which Microscale Systems will be used are detailed in the Project proposals. The Microscale Systems ITC will be led by Professor David Beebe, who is a recognized pioneer and leader in microfluidics and high throughput screening. It is supported by strategic partnerships with companies that will supply microscale life science tools and companies that will supply automated liquid handling robotics . Each of these strategic partners also has expressed a high level of interest in potentially commercializing the proposed Microscale Systems.


Prof. David Beebe

Microscale Systems Core
Principal Investigator

Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research,
1111 Highland Ave,
Madison, WI 53705

The mission of the Microscale Systems Core is to provide access to enabling micro scale technologies. Specifically, the Microscale Systems Core will work with researchers to develop and apply advanced microscale cell-based assays to enhance basic cell biology research and enable clinical studies.

Examples of enabling capabilities include:

  • Increased sensitivity to paracrine signaling
  • Discrete compartmentalization and analysis of different cell types
  • Enable studies with small (e.g. patient samples) samples and rare cell populations
  • Enable multi-analyte, multi-omic endpoints from a single sample/aliquot
  • Organotypic models (e.g. vascular, ductal)
  • Enhanced control of microenvironment parameters (e.g. matrix composition, matrix alignment, relative spatial organization, soluble factor concentration/gradient)