Timm Krüger wins ERC funding to improve disease diagnostics

A simulation of red blood cells and blood platelets in a 30 µm tube
A simulation of red blood cells and blood platelets in a 30 µm tube

Dr Timm Krüger, Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the Institute for Multiscale Thermofluids, has won one of three 2018 ERC Starting Grants awarded to researchers at the University of Edinburgh.

Timm’s project, entitled "Simulations for Inertial Particle Microfluidics (SIRIUS)", will focus on improving disease diagnostics and is worth €1.5M.

Global health problem

Cancer and bacterial infections are projected to kill 18 million people worldwide annually by 2050, which creates a pressing need for fast and reliable diagnostics to enable early and targeted treatments.

Microfluidics plays a key role in the miniaturisation of disease diagnostics, which in turns makes possible portable and low-cost point-of-care devices.

Unlocking microfluidics

Inertial particle microfluidics (IPMF) is a novel and competitive particle manipulation method with applications in cancer cell and bacteria separation. Yet the physics behind IPMF is notoriously difficult to explore and understand using purely experimental methods, making progress slow, costly and reliant on trial and error.

Novel modelling and simulation methods are therefore urgently needed to develop practical design rules.

Groundbreaking simulation methods

The SIRIUS project will numerically investigate the underlying physical mechanisms and develop the first predictive toolkit for engineering applications of IPMF. In particular, the effects of cell softness, finite cell concentration and the challenging behaviour of small particles (such as bacteria or blood platelets) will be explored.

SIRIUS will pursue an innovative simulation campaign based on the Lattice-Boltzmann Method, validated with experimental data, to generate both physical insight and shortcut methods for simulation-driven design.

Collaborative opportunities

SIRIUS will run for five years from early 2019. The ERC Starting Grant gives Timm the resources to work with several postdocs and collaborate with the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) over the coming years.

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