Single Cell and Beyond: Nanopipette Technology for Continuous Single-Cell Interrogation

Monday, November 9, 2015 - 2:00pm
Fung Auditorium, Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall
Nader Pourmand

Professor, Department of Biomolecular Engineering
Director, UCSC Genome Sequencing Center
University of California, Santa Cruz

Single Cell and Beyond: Nanopipette Technology for Continuous Single-Cell Interrogation


Approaching sub-cellular biological problems from an engineering perspective begs for the incorporation of electronic readouts. With their high sensitivity and low invasiveness, nanotechnology-based tools hold great promise for biochemical sensing and single-cell manipulation. During my talk I will discuss the incorporation of electrical measurements into nanopipette technology and present results showing the rapid and reversible response of these subcellular sensors to different analytes such as antigens, ions and carbohydrates. In addition, I will present the development of a single-cell manipulation platform that uses a nanopipette in a scanning ion-conductive microscopy technique. We use this newly developed technology to position the nanopipette with nanoscale precision, and to sense, inject and/or aspirate a minute amount of cytoplasmic material to and from individual cells without comprising cell viability. Furthermore, if time permits, I will show our strategy for a new, single-cell DNA/ RNA sequencing technology that will potentially use nanopipette technology to analyze the minute amount of aspirated cellular material.


Dr. Pourmand received his MS and PhD from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1997 and 1999 respectively, in Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology. He joined the Stanford Genome Technology Center in 1999 as a post-doctoral fellow working with Ronald Davis to develop new technologies, during which time he co-developed MagArray technology and developed charge-based DNA sequencing, which is the underlying technology for Ion Torrent system. Dr. Pourmand cofounded Xagros Genomics in 2001, MagArray Inc. in 2005 and BioStinger in 2014. In 2008 he joined UC Santa Cruz as a faculty member, and with his team he has been developing innovative tools that enable sweeping advances in knowledge. His research falls into two distinct but interrelated areas that share the common thread of leveraging the interface of bioelectronics and DNA sequencing to advance studies in the field of nanogenomics. In short, his team successfully developed a new RNA/DNA sequencing protocol from a minute amount of nucleic acid (less than 1% of a single cell content), which they can aspirate from cells with their newly developed nanopipette. The technology was recently described in Nature Nanotechnology as a major advance in Single Cell Genomics and was recognized by the NIH with their awarding to Dr. Pourmand of the Phase 1 Prize from the NIH’s “Follow that Cell Challenge” for the development of this single cell nanogenomoic technology. Dr. Pourmand’s team has begun to use the nanopipette/nanogenomics technology to study fundamental questions in medical science, in particular cancer.