Upcoming Seminars and Events

EDAM – Guest Lecture / Seminar "Organ-on-Chip"

Prof. Jaap M.J. den Toonder, Eindhoven University of Technology

Microfluidics technology offers the possibility to create devices in which chemical, mechanical, and physical conditions can be precisely controlled. This makes it possible to create well-defined micro-environments to realize advanced multi-cellular culture systems to investigate tissue and organ function, and to recreate aspects of diseases to understand processes and mechanisms in disease progression. This forms the new field of Organ-on-Chip.

In this lecture, I will explain the philosophy of Organ-on-Chip, the opportunities it offers for biomedical research, drug development and personal diagnostics, I will give examples of organ-on-chip technologies and associated fabrication methods developed in recent years, and I will illustrate the development and possibilities of Organ-on-Chip with examples of our own research on cancer research.

[1] Eslami Amirabadi, H., Sahebali, S., Frimat, J.P., Luttge, R. & den Toonder, J.M.J. Biomedical Microdevices 19: 92. (2017)
[2] Sleeboom, J. J. F., Sahlgren, C. M. & den Toonder, under review (2020).
[3] Sleeboom, J. J. F., Sahlgren, C. M. & den Toonder, J. M. J. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 19, 3047 (2018).

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Prof. Dr. Jaap M.J. den Toonder Eindhoven University of Technology

Institute of Microengineering - Distinguished Lecture

Due to the covid-19 restrictions currently in place, the lecture will take place remotely by zoom only.

Zoom Live Stream: https://epfl.zoom.us/j/86899187396

Abstract: Microfluidics technology offers the possibility to create devices in which chemical, mechanical, and physical conditions can be precisely controlled. This makes it possible to create well-defined micro-environments to realize advanced multi-cellular culture systems to investigate tissue and organ function, and to recreate aspects of diseases to understand processes and mechanisms in disease progression. This forms the new field of Organ-on-Chip. In this lecture, I will explain the philosophy of Organ-on-Chip, the opportunities it offers for biomedical research, drug development and personal diagnostics, I will give examples of organ-on-chip technologies and associated fabrication methods developed in recent years, and I will illustrate the development and possibilities of Organ-on-Chip with examples of our own research on cancer research.

Bio: Jaap den Toonder studied at Delft University of Technology where he obtained his MSc in Applied Mathematics (with honors). He received his PhD  (with honors) from the same university on a numerical/theoretical and experimental study of drag reduction in turbulent flows by polymer additives. In 1995, he joined Philips Research Laboratories in Eindhoven, and began working in mechanics of solid materials. He worked on a wide variety of applications, such as ceramic capacitors, optical storage systems, IC low-k materials, RF MEMS, soft electronics, biomedical devices, polymer MEMS, and micro-fluidics. In 2008, he became Chief Technologist, leading the R&D program on (micro-)fluidics, and (starting  2011) materials science and engineering. He was involved in research programs on molecular diagnostics, lab-on-chip, immersion lithography and energy applications. In addition to his job at Philips, Jaap den Toonder was a part-time professor at the TU/e  Materials Technology group between 2004 and 2013.  He has (co-)authored over 100 scientific papers, as well as over 40 patent applications. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Lab on a Chip, Micro-and Nanoelectromechanical Systems, Micromachines, and Biomimetics. Den Toonder is recipient of an ERC Advancd Grant in 2019.


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Games on Campus – Rencontre UNIL-EPFL autour du jeu vidéo

Estelle Doudet (UNIL), Selim Krichane (UNIL-EPFL), Phil Lopes (EPFL), Catherine Rolland et Raphaël Granier de Cassagnac (École Polytechnique Paris), Michel Schinz (EPFL)

L’objectif de ce rendez-vous régulier, né d’un intérêt conjoint d’étudiant·e·s et de chercheur·ses, est de proposer un état des lieux des activités de recherche et d’enseignement sur le campus. Qu’elles utilisent des technologies du jeu vidéo (moteurs de jeu, réalité virtuelle, gamification, etc.), ou se plongent dans l’étude de ces objets, nous souhaitons mettre en valeur les initiatives existantes et rassembler les actrices et acteurs de ce domaine présents sur le campus.

Il s'agit de la deuxième édition de l'événement. La première est disponible en rediffusion.

Le jeu vidéo est aujourd’hui un bien culturel pratiqué ou « consommé » par une part majoritaire de la société, tous âges confondus. C’est également un savoir-faire et des technologies permettant de comprendre et maîtriser de nombreuses innovations apportées par le numérique (évolution des interfaces, intelligence artificielle, etc.), mais aussi d’appréhender les nouveaux enjeux soulevés par celui-ci. De nombreux projets en tirent parti, notamment sur le campus UNIL-EPFL (projet Collart-Palmyre, Immersive Interaction Research Group, etc.). Aujourd’hui, on trouve des centres d’étude du jeu vidéo dans des universités (Universités de Paris 8, Paris 13, Metz, CNAM-CEDRIC) comme dans des écoles polytechniques (à l’ETHZ, mais aussi à Polytechnique Paris, où une chaire « Science et jeu vidéo » a ouvert fin 2019). Lausanne étant un pôle de recherche de pointe dans les humanités numériques comme dans l’étude des nouveaux médias, il est selon nous important d’intégrer à cet ensemble le jeu vidéo, ce « média natif du numérique », et de mener une réflexion à ce propos grâce à l'organisation d'un tel événement.

Le programme est le suivant :

12h30 Introduction Game* / CDH
12h38 Raphaël Granier de Cassagnac et Catherine Rolland (École Polytechnique Paris)
13h00 Estelle Doudet (UNIL)
13h15 Selim Krichane (UNIL-EPFL)
13h30 Michel Schinz (EPFL)
13h45 Phil Lopez (EPFL)

Cet événement a lieu uniquement en ligne.

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Virtual MEchanics GAthering -MEGA- Seminar: Talk 1 - A Kirchhoff-like theory for the mechanics of magnetic rods; Talk 2- Magneto-active elastic shells with tunable buckling strength

Tomohiko Sano & Dong Yan (fleXLab, EPFL)

Talk 1: A Kirchhoff-like theory for the mechanics of magnetic rods, by Tomohiko Sano (fleXLab, EPFL)
Magneto-rheological elastomers (MREs) are functional materials that can undergo deformations when subject to external magnetic fields. MREs consist of hard magnetic particles dispersed into a nonmagnetic elastomeric (soft) matrix. There have been recent advances in the theoretical description of MREs using the framework of (3D) continuum mechanics. Reduced-order structural theories have also been developed for magnetic linear beams and elastica, based on the planar (2D) deformation of the centerline. In this talk, we derive an effective theory for rods made of MRE undergoing 3D geometrically nonlinear deformations. Our theory is based on the procedure of dimensional reduction of the 3D magneto-elastic energy functional of the MRE into a 1D (centerline and Kirchhoff-like) description, which encompasses the previous 2D theories under appropriate limits. We demonstrate the accuracy of our theory by performing precision-model experiments to explore a set of specific problems involving the buckling behavior of MRE rods. These experiments are also used to test the range of validity of our theory.

Bio Tomohiko Sano is a post-doc at the Flexible Structures Laboratory at EPFL. He completed his bachelor’s and Ph.D. courses at the Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Japan. After he got a Ph.D. in 2016, he worked as a post-doctoral researcher at Ritsumeikan University, near Kyoto, Japan, from 2016 to 2019. His research interests are mechanical functionalities in structures and geometry.

Talk 2: Magneto-active elastic shells with tunable buckling strength, Dong Yan (fleXLab, EPFL)
It has long been recognized that the buckling of shell structures is highly sensitive to material or geometric imperfections, leading to observed critical loads that are significantly lower than classic predictions. In this class of problems, the knockdown factor is defined as the ratio between the experimentally measured critical load and the classic theoretical prediction. This knockdown is typically regarded as an intrinsic property of the structure since the type and distribution of defects are encoded into the shell during fabrication. Here, we demonstrate the ability to actively tune the knockdown factor of pressurized spherical shells. We fabricate our spherical shells with a magneto-rheological elastomer (MRE) using a coating technique. The shells are first magnetized and then loaded by pressure under a uniform magnetic field. We find that, by adjusting the strength and polarity of the field, the knockdown factor of the magnetically active shells can be increased or decreased up to a maximum change of 30%. As such, we can externally tune their intrinsic buckling strength, on-demand. An axisymmetric shell model is used to rationalize the experimental results on how the magnetic field interacts with the buckling of imperfect shells.

Bio Dong Yan got his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Beijing Institute of Technology, China, in 2017. Then he joined the Flexible Structures Laboratory (the fleXLab) at EPFL as a post-doc, working with Prof. Pedro Reis on shell buckling and magneto-elastic structures.
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Electrolyte effects in electrocatalysis

Prof. Marc Koper Leiden University, Netherlands

Title: Electrolyte effects in electrocatalysis

In this talk, I will present some new results on the structure of the electrochemical double layer of platinum and gold single crystal electrodes. I will show that the Gouy-Chapman-Stern theory cannot explain the double layer capacitance of these interfaces, not even at low electrolyte concentrations. Based on these observations, I will suggest a new model for the electrochemical double layer. I will then discuss how this double-layer structure, or more specifically cations in the electrochemical double layer, may affect the kinetics of electrocatalytic H2 evolution and CO2 reduction, both the activity itself ànd the competition.

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MARVEL November Junior Seminar

Haiyuan Wang (EPFL) & Tobias Esswein (ETHZ)

The seminar will be given online via Zoom: 
Password: 3417

The MARVEL Junior Seminars aim to intensify interactions between the MARVEL Junior scientists belonging to different research groups (i.e. PhD & Postdocs either directly funded by the NCCR, or as a matching contribution). The seminar consists of two 25-minute presentations, followed by time for discussion.
Dielectric-dependent hybrid functionals for band gaps of inorganic halide perovskites with phonon and spin-orbit coupling impacts
Haiyuan Wang
Chair of Atomic Scale Simulation (CSEA), EPFL  

Quantum paraelectricity in SrTiO3 and KTaO3 from density functional theory
Tobias Esswein
Materials Theory, Dept. of Materials, ETHZ 

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Shedding Light on Tumour Evolution

Prof. Sarah Bohndiek, University of Cambridge 

This event is part of the EPFL Seminar Series in Imaging (https://imagingseminars.org).

Abstract. The dynamic cellular ecosystem of a growing tumour mass requires a vascular network to obtain oxygen and nutrients, as well as to remove metabolic waste products. Early in their development, tumours stimulate new blood vessel growth through a range of mechanisms to meet this need, leading to marked differences in the vasculature between normal and tumour tissue that could be exploited for early cancer detection and monitoring of therapy response. These differences in vascular phenotypes can be revealed using optics, thanks to the strong absorption of light by oxy- and deoxy-haemoglobin.

In this talk, I will introduce our efforts to harness next-generation imaging sciences to visualise tumour architecture and function non-invasively. In particular, I will introduce photoacoustic imaging and explain how its multiscale implementations can provide insight into vascular evolution and remodelling in response to treatment in animal models. I will then provide an overview of the future clinical challenges and opportunities in using photoacoustic imaging in patients.

Biography. Prof. Sarah Bohndiek is Group Leader at the University of Cambridge, where she is jointly appointed in the Department of Physics and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. The broad mission of Sarah’s interdisciplinary team, the VISIONLab, is advance our understanding of tumour evolution using next-generation imaging sciences. They are also are active in translating their findings into clinical trials. Sarah was recently awarded the CRUK Future Leaders in Cancer Research Prize and SPIE Early Career Achievement Award in recognition of her interdisciplinary research innovation.
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EPFL BioE Talks SERIES "High-Throughput Differentiation of hIPSCs From Hundreds of Individuals to Study Genetic Influences on Gene Expression"

Prof. Daniel Gaffney, Wellcome Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge (UK)

(note that this talk is number one of a double-feature seminar - see details of the second talk here)

The majority of common human trait associated genetic variation appears to alter gene expression rather than protein structure. Despite substantial progress in mapping expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs), there are significant gaps in our resources to interrogate the function of human noncoding genetic variation. For example, studying genetic variants that change expression only in activated cell states, or those whose function varies across developmental stages remains challenging. I will present two related pieces of work from our group that address some of these challenges using a model system based on human induced pluripotent stem cells (hIPSCs). In the first project, I will discuss using hIPSCs from hundreds of individuals differentiated to macrophages to map "response eQTLs" across scores of stimulated cell states. We show that, even within a single cell type, extensive disease relevant regulatory variation remains undiscovered. In the second project, I will discuss using “pooled” designs, where cell lines from multiple individuals are grown together and profiled using single cell RNA-seq. Here, we profile IPSCs differentiated to using an established dopaminergic protocol, and discover hundreds of disease relevant-associations that are not well captured by existing eQTL data bases, such as GTEx. I will also discuss some of the limitations of this system, such as extensive variation between lines in differentiation outcomes.

Daniel Gaffney earned his PhD in evolutionary genetics from Edinburgh University in 2006 under the supervision of Dr Peter Keightley. His graduate research used computational methods to study variation in the mutation rate and natural selection in noncoding DNA. From 2006 to 2008 he pursued a postdoc with Dr Jacek Majewski in McGill University and Genome Quebec Genome Centre, where he worked on the evolution of transcriptional regulation and alternative splicing in mammals. From 2008 until 2011 he worked on population genetic variation in gene expression and regulation with Dr Jonathan Pritchard at the University of Chicago.
In July 2011 Daniel Gaffney started as a Career Development Fellowship Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and was promoted to Group Leader in October 2015. The long-term goal of the group is to understand the molecular and cellular consequences of genetic changes in gene regulatory regions. His research combines statistical genetics with high-throughput experimental techniques in human cells to address these questions. Much of the group’s recent research has been focussed on using human induced pluripotent stem cells (hIPSCs) and cells derived from hIPSCs as model systems to map and characterise human noncoding genetic changes.

Zoom link (with registration) for attending remotely: https://go.epfl.ch/EPFLBioETalks

IMPORTANT NOTICE: due to restrictions resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 situation, this seminar can be followed via Zoom web-streaming only, following prior one-time registration through the link above.
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IGM Colloquium: Performing art improvisation techniques for mechanical engineering design teaching and learning

Prof. Simon Henein, Patek Philippe Chair in Micromechanical and Horological Design, EPFL School of Engineering (STI), Institute of Microengineering (IMT)

In 2017 Prof. Henein initiated a new course bridging the Engineering and Humanities faculties at EPFL: Collective Creation: Improvised Arts and Engineering (Improgineering). This year-long course, is part of EPFL’s Social and Human Sciences (SHS) program. It is open to all first-year Master’s students, with classes held once a week throughout the academic year. The course is hosted and supported by the Centre d’art scénique contemporain (ARSENIC) in Lausanne, a well-known incubator of contemporary performing arts. The course examines the creative processes in science, engineering and the performing
arts (dance, music, theatre) and put them in perspective with the design approaches used in engineering.

In 2018, the Improgineering course has been selected as a subject of study by researchers from the Institute of Psychology and Education, University of Neuchâtel (Prof. Kloetzer’s team) who launched the Performing Arts as Pedagogical Tool in Higher Education (ASCOPET) project, in collaboration with Prof. Henein. The observation and analysis of the pedagogical setting of this course covered the entire 2018-2019 academic year. The results of this study show that the use of performing arts in higher education has the potential to transform not only the relationship of the students to themselves, to the others, and to the topic under study, but also to transform the relationship between teachers and students, the relations between artistic and academic institutions, as well as the understanding of the central role of the body in collaborative activities, collective creation, and in particular in mechanical engineering design.

Since obtaining his Ph.D. in Microengineering in 2000 from EPFL, Simon Henein has become a recognised leader in the design of novel mechanisms with sophisticated dynamic properties, dedicated to mechanical watches, surgical instruments, and aerospace applications. His related undergraduate and graduate teaching focuses on micromechanical design, with an emphasis on the creative process. In parallel, he developed a strong interest in improvised arts, particularly in dance instant composition. He participated in numerous workshops led by internationally renowned improvisers, developed his own artistic practice and founded a dance company in 2013. His experience in these two creative disciplines allowed him to identify a powerful synergy: improvisation as an efficient technique for developing collective work approaches, reflexivity, situated knowledge and embodied cognition. Simon Henein is currently Visiting Professor at the Centre for Theatre Studies (CET), Faculty of Arts, University of Lausanne and Associate Professor at EPFL, Head of the
Micromechanical and Horological Design Laboratory INSTANT-LAB, Institute of Microengineering.
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IEL Seminar: Nanoscale design for large-scale challenges – New technologies for efficient power devices, effective thermal management and faster electronics

Elison Matioli is an assistant professor in the institute of electrical engineering at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), since 2015. He received a double B.Sc. degree in applied physics and applied mathematics from Ecole Polytechnique (Palaiseau, France) and in electrical engineering from University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, followed by a Ph.D. degree from the Materials Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2010. He was a post-doctoral fellow in the EECS department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) until 2014. He has received the UCSB Outstanding Graduate Student - Scientific Achievement Award for his Ph.D. work, the 2013 IEEE George Smith Award, the 2015 ERC Starting Grant Award, the 2016 SNSF Assistant Professor Energy Grant Award and the 2020 University Latsis Prize.

Abstract: Electricity is the fastest growing form of end-use energy, however a considerable portion of the electricity consumed worldwide is wasted in power conversion, especially in power semiconductor devices. The outstanding properties of Gallium Nitride semiconductors for power electronic devices can enable significantly more efficient and compact future power converters. Despite the exceptional recent progress, the performance of current GaN power devices is still far below the limits of this material. Further improvements require a reduction of the on-resistance, while maintaining large voltage-blocking capabilities, along with an improved thermal management, which will enable higher efficiency, larger power density and smaller devices.
To address these challenges, this talk will discuss new technologies to drastically reduce the sheet resistance in these semiconductors. Combined with a judicious design of the electric field distribution, based on nanostructures, this approach enables to concurrently reduce the on-resistance and increase the breakdown voltage of power devices, leading to figures of merit far beyond the state-of-the-art [1].
To manage the large heat fluxes in power devices, I will present new technologies based on integrated microfluidic cooling inside the device. By co-designing microfluidics and electronics within the same semiconductor substrate, a monolithically integrated manifold microchannel cooling structure was produced with efficiency beyond what is currently available. Our results show that heat fluxes exceeding 1.7 kW/cm2 could be extracted using only 0.57 W/cm2 of pumping power. An unprecedented coefficient of performance (exceeding 10,000) for single-phase water-cooling was achieved, corresponding to a 50-fold increase compared to straight microchannels [2]. The proposed cooling technology should enable further miniaturization of electronics, potentially extending Moore’s law and greatly reducing the energy consumption in cooling of electronics. Furthermore, by removing the need for large external heat sinks, this approach enables the realization of very compact power converters integrated on a single chip.
Finally, this talk will discuss novel approaches for ultra-fast electronics based on picosecond switches and future directions for novel electronic devices [3].

  1. J. Ma, C. Erine, M. Zhu, L. Nela, K. Cheng, E. Matioli, “1200 V Multi-Channel Power Devices with 2.8 Ω·mm ON-Resistance”, 2019 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), San Francisco, CA, pp. 4.1.1-4.1.4, (2019)
  2. R. Van Erp, R. Soleimanzadeh, L. Nela, G. Kampitsis and E. Matioli, “Co-designing electronics with microfluidics for more sustainable cooling”, Nature 585, 211–216 (2020)
  3. M. S. Nikoo, A. Jafari, N. Perera, G. Santoruvo, E. Matioli, “Nanoplasma-Enabled Picosecond Switches for Ultra-Fast Electronics”, Nature, 579 (7800), 534-539, (2020)

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Prof. Bettina Lotsch Max Plank Institute for Solid State Research Stuttgart, Germany


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IMX Seminar Series - Injectable synthetic building blocks to regenerate soft anisotropic tissues

Prof. Laura De Laporte, Leibniz Institute / RWTH Aachen, Germany

We apply polymeric molecular and nano- to micron-scale building blocks to assemble soft 3D biomaterials with anisotropic and dynamic properties. Microgels and fibers are produced by technologies based on fiber spinning, microfluidics, and in-mold polymerization. To arrange the building blocks in a spatially controlled manner, self-assembly mechanisms and assembly by external magnetic fields are employed. For example, the Anisogel technology offers a solution to regenerate sensitive tissues with an oriented architecture, which requires a low invasive therapy. It can be injected as a liquid and structured in situ in a controlled manner with defined biochemical, mechanical, and structural parameters. Magnetoceptive, anisometric microgels or short fibers are incorporated to create a unidirectional structure. Cells and nerves grow in a linear manner and the fibronectin produced by fibroblasts is aligned. Regenerated nerves are functional with spontaneous activity and electrical signals propagating along the anisotropy axis of the material. Another developed platform is a thermoresponsive hydrogel system, encapsulated with plasmonic gold-nanorods, which actuates by oscillating light. This system elucidates how rapid hydrogel beating leads to a reduction in cell migration, while enhancing focal adhesions, native production of extracellular matrix, and nuclear translocation of mechanosensitive proteins, depending on the amplitude and frequency of actuation.

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EPFL BioE Talks SERIES "DNA Origami Coating Strategies for Enhanced Stability and Delivery"

Prof. Mauri A. Kostiainen, Aalto University, Espoo (SF)

(note that this talk is number one of a double-feature seminar - see details of the second talk here)

Fully addressable DNA nanostructures, especially DNA origami, possess huge potential to serve as inherently biocompatible and versatile molecular platforms. However, their use as delivery vehicles in therapeutics is compromised by their low stability and poor transfection rates. Our studies have shown that DNA origamis can be coated non-covalently by various materials to tackle the aforementioned issues. In detail, we have demonstrated that coatings utilizing either virus capsid proteins, serum albumin, phthalocyanine dyes or cationic lipids can enhance the delivery, and especially stability of the structures. The electrostatic complexation strategy is highly modular and suitable for a wide range of DNA-based templates.

Mikkilä, J.; Eskelinen, A.-P.; Niemelä, E.; Linko, V.; Frilander, M.; Törmä, P.; Kostiainen, M. A. Virus Encapsulated DNA Origami Nanostructures for Cellular Delivery, Nano Letters, 2014, 14, 2196-2200.
Auvinen, H.; Zhang, H.; Nonappa; Kopilow, A.; Niemelä, E. H.; Nummelin, S.; Ikkala, O.; Santos, H. A.; Linko, V.; Kostiainen, M. A. Protein Coating of DNA Nanostructures for Enhanced Stability and Immunocompatibility, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 2017, 6, 1700692.
Shaukat, A.; Anaya-Plaza, E.; Julin, S.; Linko, V.; Torres, T.; de la Escosura, A.; Kostiainen, M. A. Phthalocyanine-DNA Origami Complexes with Enhanced Stability and Optical Properties, Chemical Communications, 2020, 56, 7341-7344.

Mauri A. Kostiainen obtained his Ph.D. in engineering physics from Helsinki University of Technology, Finland (2008). After receiving his doctoral degree, he spent 2.5 years at the Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands) developing new approaches for chemical and physical virology. He returned to Aalto University in 2011 as an Academy of Finland postdoctoral fellow and joined the School of Chemical Engineering in 2013, where he is currently an Associate Professor. His research interests focus on the integration of biological and synthetic building blocks in a designed manner to create biohybrid materials.

Zoom link (with registration) for attending remotely: https://go.epfl.ch/EPFLBioETalks

IMPORTANT NOTICE: due to restrictions resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 situation, this seminar can be followed via Zoom web-streaming only, following prior one-time registration through the link above.
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EPFL BioE Talks SERIES "The Challenges and Promises of DNA as Programmable Biomaterial"

Prof. Maartje M.C. Bastings, Institute of Materials and Institute of Bioengineering, EPFL, Lausanne (CH)


(note that this talk is number two of a double-feature seminar - see details of the first talk here)

DNA-nanotechnology offers unprecedented control over the precise structure and location in a nanostructure since each element has a unique sequence. In the DNA-origami method, a 7-kilobase “scaffold” strand is self-assembled with hundreds of shorter “staple” strands to form a parallel array of double helices.[1] Using this method, one can approximate any desired three-dimensional shape up to the size of a small virus.[2][3] The technology suffers however from inherent stability challenges when used in cellular environments.[4]

In this talk, I will start with a brief overview of the DNA nanotechnology principles and will go into depth on stabilization solutions that allow for cellular manipulation using DNA architectures.[5][6] We developed DNA-nanostructures with the aim to selectively target cells as well as study the shape related cellular uptake in various cell types.[7] Finally, I will touch upon our activities to explore precise activation of the immune system through controlled maturation of dendritic cells. By systematic screening of immune-pathway activation of DNA-origamis combined with antigens and danger-signals, we are making small steps into a better understanding of the complex mechanisms of our immune system. This knowledge holds potential to be translated toward the development of vaccines for autoimmune diseases and cancer.

[1]P. W. K. Rothemund, “Folding DNA to create nanoscale shapes and patterns,” Nature, 440, 7082, 297–302, 2006.
[2]S. M. Douglas, H. Dietz, T. Liedl, F. Graf, W. M. Shih, and B. Högberg, “Self-assembly of DNA into nanoscale three-dimensional shapes,” Nature, 459, 7245,  414–418, 2009.
[3]H. Dietz, S. M. Douglas, and W. M. Shih, “Folding DNA into twisted and curved nanoscale shapes,” Science, 325, 5941, 725–30, 2009.
[4]J. Hahn, S. F. J. Wickham, W. M. Shih, and S. D. Perrault, “Addressing the Instability of DNA Nanostructures in Tissue Culture,” 8, 9, 8765-8775, 2014
[5]N. Ponnuswamy et al., “Oligolysine-based coating protects DNA nanostructures from low-salt denaturation and nuclease degradation,” Nat. Commun., 8, 15654, 2017.
[6]H. Bila, E. E. Kurisinkal, and M. M. C. Bastings, “Engineering a stable future for DNA-origami as a biomaterial,” Biomater. Sci., 2019.
[7]M. M. C. Bastings et al., “Modulation of the Cellular Uptake of DNA Origami through Control over Mass and Shape,” Nano Lett., 2018.

Maartje Bastings, PhD (1984), studied Biomedical Engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (2003-2008). University of California, Santa Barbara and California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. Maartje combined her undergraduate studies in Biomedical Engineering with a professional education in classical flute on the Fontys Conservatory, Tilburg (BMus, 2007).
She performed her PhD research in the group of prof.dr. E.W. (Bert) Meijer, working on the understanding of multivalent binding mechanisms for directed targeting and the development of dynamic biomaterials for tissue engineering and successfully defended her thesis titled “Dynamic Reciprocity in Bio-Inspired Supramolecular Materials” in September 2012. Her thesis was awarded the University Academic Award (2013) for best university-wide PhD thesis.
From November 2012 – December 2016, Maartje worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute / Harvard University in Boston, USA.
Since January 2017, she is appointed at EPFL as tenure track assistant professor, heading the Programmable Biomaterials Laboratory (PBL). Her quest is to use DNA as a precision engineering tool to unravel the role of spatial organization in multivalent interactions.

Zoom link (with registration) for attending remotely: https://go.epfl.ch/EPFLBioETalks

IMPORTANT NOTICE: due to restrictions resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 situation, this seminar can be followed via Zoom web-streaming only, following prior one-time registration through the link above.
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Imaging the Planet for a Sustainable Future

Prof. Gilberto Camara, Secretariat Director of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

With the special participation of 
  • Prof. Martin Vetterli, EPFL President 
  • Prof. Meredith Schuman, UZH 
  • Prof. Devis Tuia, EPFL 
Abstract. Satellite images are the most comprehensive source of data about our environment; they provide information for measuring deforestation, crop production, food security, urban footprints, water scarcity, and land degradation. In recent years, space agencies have adopted open distribution policies and as result experts now have access to repeated acquisitions over the same areas; the resulting time series improve our understanding of ecological patterns and processes.
The availability of big Earth observation data has led the experts in the field to focus on the technologies of cloud computing, data cubes, and machine learning. However, continuous monitoring of land dynamics using remote sensing data differs from applications such as spam filters, automatic translation, and object detection. This talk will focus on the challenges of using machine learning to analyse large satellite image time series and argue that long-term progress will depend on a new generation of methods that combine machine learning with functional ecosystem models.

Biography. Prof. Dr. Gilberto Câmara is a Brazilian researcher in GIScience, Geoinformatics, Spatial Data Science, and Land Use Change who is affiliated with Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and is currently serving as Secretariat Director of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). Before joining GEO, Gilberto was INPE’s assistant director for Earth Observation (2001-2005) and INPE’s director general (2005-2012).He is internationally recognized for promoting free access for geospatial data and for setting up an efficient satellite monitoring of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Gilberto has advised 53 graduate students, published more than 130 scholarly papers, and cited more than 13000 times (h = 48, Google Scholar, 11/2020). He was inducted as a Doctor honoris causa from the University of Münster (Germany) and as a Chevalier (Knight) of the Ordre National du Mérite of France. He received the William T. Pecora award from NASA and USGS for "leadership to the broad and open access to remote sensing data".

This event is part of the EPFL Seminar Series in Imaging (https://imagingseminars.org).
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CIS - Colloquium - Verdical data science for the practice of responsible data analysis and decision making by Prof. Bin Yu

Prof. Bin YU

Prof. Bin YU is currently Chancellor's Professor in the Departments of Statistics and of Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

Title: Verdical data science for the practice of responsible data analysis and decision making

Abstract: Veridical data science aims at responsible, reliable, reproducible, and transparent data analysis and decision-making. Predictability, computability, and stability (PCS) are three core principles towards veridical data science. They embed the scientific principles of prediction and replication in data-driven decision making while recognizing the central role of computation. Based on these principles, the PCS framework consists of a workflow and documentation (in R Markdown or Jupyter Notebook) for the entire data science life cycle from problem formulation, data collection, data cleaning to modeling and data result interpretation and conclusions.
Employing the PCS framework in causal inference and analyzing data from clincial trial VIGOR, we developed staDISC for stable discovery of interpretable subgroups via calibration for precision medicine. The sugroups discovered by staDISC using the VIGOR data is validated to a good extent with the APPROVe study.

The Center for Intelligent Systems at EPFL (CIS) is a collaboration among IC, SB, and STI that brings together researchers working on different aspects of Intelligent Systems. In June 2020, CIS has launched its CIS Colloquia featuring invited notable speakers.
More info https://www.epfl.ch/research/domains/cis/prof-bin-yu/

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IGM Colloquium: Supramolecular Approaches to Design Novel Antivirals

Prof. Francesco Stellacci, Supramolecular Nanomaterials and Interfaces Laboratory, EPFL School of Engineering (STI), Institute of Materials (IMX)

Viral infections are among the main causes of death in the world. When prevention is not an option, antiviral drugs are the last resort to prevent the spread and the mortality of these infections. There are only a few effective drugs on the market, for the most part they prevent intracellular viral replication. Unfortunately, they are too few when compared to the many viruses that threaten humans.

In this talk, I will show a new design rule to achieve drugs that fight viruses extracellularly by irreversibly inhibiting their infectivity, i.e. I will show how to create virucidal compounds. The design of these macromolecular virucidal agents starts by a bio-mimic approach and is characterized by the limited toxicity towards host cells that one would expect from such compounds. Yet, I will demonstrate that the multivalent binding to the viruses, coupled with a large hydrophobic contact between the compounds and the virus leads to a loss of integrity of the virion that obviously leads to an irreversible loss of infectivity. Results in and ex-vivo will be illustrated especially for the cases of influenza, herpes, and respiratory syncytial virus.

Prof. Francesco Stellacci is a Materials Engineer graduated at the Politecnico di Milano with a thesis on photochromic polymers. He did a post-doc with Prof. J.W. Perry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Arizona on two-photon microfabrication. In 2002 he became an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT (Cambridge, USA). There he became an associate professor with tenure in 2009. In 2010, he moved as a full professor to EPFL. He has won numerous awards, among them the Technology Review TR35 ’top innovator under 35’, the Popular Science Magazine ’Brilliant 10’, and the EMRS EU40. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, of the Global Young Academy, and of the European Academy of Sciences, and he is a Member of the Academia Europaea.
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Mechanical behavior of fluid-induced earthquakes

Prof. Marie Violay, Laboratory of Experimental Rock Mechanics, EPFL Lausanne  

Abstract: Fluids play an important role in fault zone and in earthquakes generation. Fluid pressure reduces the normal effective stress, lowering the frictional strength of the fault, potentially triggering earthquake ruptures. Fluid injection induced earthquakes (FIE) are direct evidence of the effect of fluid pressure on the fault strength. In addition, natural earthquake sequences are often associated with high fluid pressures at seismogenic depths. Although simple in theory, the mechanisms that govern the nucleation, propagation and recurrence of FIEs are poorly constrained, and our ability to assess the seismic hazard that is associated with natural and induced events remains limited. Here we study the role of pore fluid pressure on fault mechanical behavior during the entire seismic cycle. i.e., strain rates from ~10-9/s (fault creep) to ~103/s (co-seismic slip). We reproduced at the scale of the laboratory miniature injection experiments. The velocity of the rupture propagation front, fault slip, dynamic stress drop and acoustic emission were recorded with a state of-the-art monitoring system. We demonstrated that the nature of seismicity is mostly governed by the initial stress level (i.e pore fluid pressure) along the faults and that the dynamic fault weakening depends on both fluid rheology and thermodynamic.
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Becoming sustainable, the new frontier in soft electronics and robotics

Prof. Dr. Martin Kaltenbrunner
Johannes Kepler University Linz

Institute of Microengineering - Distinguished Lecture

Due to the covid-19 restrictions currently in place, the lecture will take place remotely by zoom only.

Zoom Live Stream: https://epfl.zoom.us/j/841073972

Abstract: The advancement of technology has a profound and far-reaching impact on our society, now penetrating all areas of our life. From cradle to grave, we are supported by and depend on a wide range of electronic and robotic appliances, with an ever more intimate integration of the digital and biological spheres. These advances however often come at the price of negatively impacting our ecosystem, with growing demands on energy, contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution - from production to improper disposal. Mitigating these adverse effects is amongst the grand challenges of our society and at the forefront of materials research. The currently emerging forms of soft, biologically inspired electronics and robotics have the unique potential of becoming not only like their natural antitypes in performance and capabilities, but also in terms of their ecological footprint.
This talk introduces materials and methods including tough yet biodegradable biogels for soft systems that facilitate a broad range of applications, from transient wearable electronics to metabolizable soft robots. These embodiments are reversibly stretchable, are able to heal and are resistant to dehydration. Our forms of soft electronics and robots – built from resilient biogels with tunable mechanical properties – are designed for prolonged operation in ambient conditions without fatigue, but fully degrade after use through biological triggers. Electronic skins merged with imperceptible foil technologies provide sensory feedback such as pressure, strain, temperature and humidity sensing in combination with untethered data processing and communication through a recyclable on-board computation unit. Such advances in the synthesis of biodegradable, mechanically tough and stable iono-and hydrogels may bring bionic soft systems a step closer to nature. Pushing the boundaries further, design concepts for fast actuation in soft robotics systems, from exploiting mechanical instabilities to leveraging magnetic interactions on the millimeter scale are introduced.

Bio: Kaltenbrunner is a full professor at the Johannes Kepler University, heading the Soft Matter Physics Division and the LIT Soft Materials Lab. He received his master’s and PhD degrees in physics from the Johannes Kepler University in 2008 and 2012, respectively. He then joined the Someya-Sekitani Lab for Organic Electronics at The University of Tokyo as postdoctoral researcher prior to his present position. Kaltenbrunner’s research interests include soft electronics and machines, biodegradable soft materials, photovoltaics, lightning and thin film transistors, soft transducers and robotics, flexible and stretchable electronics, and electronic skin.

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IMX Seminar Series - The challenges and opportunities of sustainable materials

Prof. Fiorenzo Omenetto, Tufts University, USA

Natural materials offer new avenues for innovation across fields, bringing together, like never before, natural sciences and high technology. Significant opportunity exists in reinventing naturally-derived materials, such as structural proteins, and applying advanced material processing, prototyping, and manufacturing techniques to these ubiquitously present substances.  This approach help us imagine and realize sustainable, carbon-neutral strategies that operate seamlessly at the interface between the biological and the technological worlds. Some of these opportunities include biomaterials-based applications in edible and implantable electronics, food preservation, functional packaging, energy harvesting, wearable sensors, compostable technology, distributed environmental sensing, medical devices and therapeutics, biospecimen stabilization, advanced medical diagnostics, and will be outlined in this talk.
Bio: Fiorenzo G. Omenetto is the Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering, and a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University. He also holds appointments in the Department of Physics and the Department of Electrical Engineering. His research interests are in the convergence of technology, biologically inspired materials and the natural sciences with an emphasis on new transformative approaches for sustainable materials for high-technology applications. Prof. Omenetto was formerly a J. Robert Oppenheimer Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratories, a Guggenheim Fellow.  He is a 2017 Tällberg Foundation Global Leader,  a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, the National Academy of Inventors, and of the American Physical Society. His research has been featured extensively in the press with coverage in the most important media outlets worldwide. 

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CIS - "Get to know your neighbors" Seminar series - Prof. Mackenzie Mathis

Prof. Mackenzie Mathis

The Center for Intelligent Systems at EPFL (CIS) is a collaboration among IC, SB, STI and ENAC that brings together researchers working on different aspects of Intelligent Systems.
In order to promote exchanges among researchers and encourage the creation of new, collaborative projects, CIS is organizing a "Get to know your neighbors" series. Each seminar will consist of one short overview presentation geared to the general public at EPFL.
The CIS seminar will take place live on Zoom: https://epfl.zoom.us/j/92425058558

Monday, 14th December 2020 from 3:15 to 4:15 pm

NB: Video recordings of the seminars will be made available on our website and published on our social media pages

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IGM Colloquium: Softer Faster Better Stronger: Elastomer Actuators

Prof. Herbert Shea, Soft Transducers Laboratory, EPFL School of Engineering (STI), Institute of Microengineering (IMT)

Our research at EPFL-LMTS centers on mm- to cm-scale elastomer-based actuators driven by electrostatic forces. Using examples from our work in soft robotics and wearable haptics, I will illustrate how we have addressed several key limitations of directly electrically-driven soft actuators, including obtaining high forces (16 N holding force from a 1 g device), high speeds (5 kHz), complex motion, and reducing drive voltage to 300 V, a level at which we can use SMD components for very compact control electronics. This enabled us to make fast untethered soft robots, robust yet sub-mm thick wearable haptic interfaces, high-force textile clutches for VR gloves, and compliant grippers able to delicately manipulate fruit and vegetables. Our ongoing work is aimed at embedding intelligence into these soft machines.

Herb Shea is a professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where he leads the Soft Transducers Lab (EPFL-LMTS). His research is centered on elastomer-based actuators for wearable haptics and for soft robotics. He is the president of the EuroEAP Society since 2018. Herb holds a PhD in physics from Harvard University (1997), and worked for 7 years at IBM Research and Bell Labs prior to joining EPFL in 2004.
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Innate immune sensing of DNA through the cGAS-STING pathway

Dr Andrea Ablasser, SV / GHI / UPABLASSER

The life of any organism depends on the ability of its cells to recognize and respond to pathogenic microbes. To accomplish this vital task cells rely on intricate signaling pathways that couple sensing of pathogen-associated danger signals to the execution of antimicrobial immune responses. The cGAS-(cGAMP)-STING signaling pathway is at the core of a highly conserved innate immune strategy that originated in bacteria to protect from phage infection. In mammals, the pathway detects intracellular DNA to promote an antiviral and inflammatory state. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the cGAS-STING pathway plays a critical role in regulating a number of (patho-)physiological processes that fall outside its traditional function in host defense. As such, the cGAS-STING pathway is implicated in a number of inflammatory disease states where homeostasis is compromised and out-of-context self DNA accumulates, including autoimmunity, cancer, and neurodegeneration.
In this talk I will present advances in our understanding of the activation and regulation of the cGAS-STING pathway. I will also discuss how aberrant cGAS-STING signaling contributes to inflammatory phenotypes and highlight opportunities for pharmacologically targeting cGAS-STING pathway activity.

Andrea Ablasser obtained her MD at the University of Munich. After her post-doc at the University of Bonn, she joined EPFL as an assistant professor. Her research focuses on mechanisms of innate immunity. She played a major role in deciphering how cells respond to DNA as a signal of infection via the so-called cGAS-STING pathway - a fundamental discovery, which paved the way for promising new immunotherapies. Amongst several distinctions, Andrea Ablasser is recipient of the Coley Award, the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award, the  National Latsis Prize, the ACTERIA Prize, and the Eppendorf Award, and she was elected member of EMBO. She is the founding scientist of IFM Due, a biopharmaceutical company developing cGAS-STING antagonists for the treatment of inflammatory disorders.
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Cancer Genomics: from 3D chromatin structures to new therapeutic targets

Dr Elisa Oricchio, SV / ISREC / UPORICCHIO

Cancer is a genetic disease that arises from the accumulation and selection of multiple genomic lesions including mutations, chromosomal rearrangements and epigenetic alterations. These lesions affect the expression and activity of multiple genes, lead to modifications of the chromatin tri-dimensional (3D) organization, and influence response to therapies. In my lab, we are interested, on one side, in elucidating the impact of cancer genomic lesions on the 3D structure of the chromatin and, on the other side, in integrating genomic analyses with functional studies to gain insights into tumor biology and develop new therapies. In my talk, I will discuss both topics. I will present recent studies where we demonstrated how epigenetic modifications and chromosomal changes influence the 3D structure of the chromatin to drive and sustain oncogenic programs. Then, I’ll present an example of a functional cancer genomic study that led to the discovery of a new therapeutic target and the design of new therapeutic compounds.

A short bio
Elisa Oricchio, PhD, is a tenure track assistant professor at EPFL in the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research, School of Life Science. Her research focuses on cancer genomics and B-cell malignancies. Over the course of her career she has identified oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes as new therapeutic targets or as biomarkers to better classify cancer patients. As an independent investigator, she moved beyond the liner interpretation of the cancer genome and she has integrated cancer genomic analyses in B-cell malignancies with the study of 3D chromatin conformation. Her work has been recognized with the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientist by the New York Academy of Science and the Lorini Award for Italian Scientist in Cancer Research. Recently, she was appointed as board member of the European Association of Cancer Research (EACR), which represents the major association for cancer research in Europe.
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