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Dr Séverine Le Gac


Severine Le Gac studied chemistry at the ESPCI (Ecole Superieure de Physique et Chimie de la ville de Paris) and received her diploma as an engineer in Chemistry in 2000. During the last year of her study she prepared a DEA (French Master-like diploma) on the topic of "Biological activity of natural compounds; molecular recognition and cellular communication" at the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris (France).

Thereafter, she prepared a Ph.D at the University of Sciences and Technologies of Lille (France) on the topic of "Microfluidic systems for mass spectrometry analysis and proteomics applications". She finished her Ph.D cum laude in 2004, and her work was rewarded by the Ph.D prize of the French Society for Mass Spectrometry. In 2004, she was awarded a JSPS grant to spend two months in a research lab in Japan.

From January 2005 she has been working in BIOS, The Lab-on-a-Chip group at the University of Twente (The Netherlands). During her 3-year post-doctoral period she has worked on the development of microfluidic tools for cell experimentation and analysis. In January 2008, she was appointed Assistant Professor in the same group. Her current research focuses on the development of microfluidic platforms for cell-related experimentation.

Her work on the use of microfluidic devices for embryo culture started in 2007 in collaboration with the group of Dr Bioani at the Max Planck Institute (Muenster, Germany). In the frame of a bilateral German-Dutch grant, together with Professor Schlatt at the CeRA (Muenster, Germany), they have demonstrated the potential of microfluidics to culture single (mouse) embryo during their pre-implantation development. The present GFI grant will focus on the application of such microfluidic devices for the culture of human embryos. 


Project: C-μART - Culture in Microfluidics for Assisted Reproduction Techniques

The project C-μART which stands for Culture in Microfluidics for Assisted Reproduction Techniques of Dr Le Gac and Professor Lambalk focuses on the use of microfluidics for developing a novel integrated platform for embryo culture and characterization. 

The main goals of the project are as follows. First, we propose to employ a novel format for the culture of the embryos, with the use of a close system with a well-defined culture volume of 30-500 nL. With this format, the embryo microenvironment is well-defined, and embryo can be cultured in a dynamic way. Such microfluidic devices have been developed in my group and successfully tested on mouse embryos, cultured in groups or single, in the frame of another collaboration with the Max Planck Institute and Professor Schlatt, in Muenster. In the frame of this project, we will validate their applicability for human embryos. Second, the use of a microfluidic format enables to perform measurements in real-time on the embryo microenvironment. For instance, sensors can be integrated in the device, and we will focus here on the integration of an oxygen sensor to characterize the embryo environment and its growth rate and quality. Alternatively, the culture microchamber can be coupled for on-line measurements of the culture medium. This will be applied here for characterizing the embryo viability using metabolic profiling and the technique of near-infrared spectroscopy that is routinely used in the group of Professor Lambalk. 

The resulting integrated sensing microfluidic platform can be applied not only to generate higher quality embryos (improved culture conditions), but also as a research tool to screen various culture parameters and investigate their impact on the embryo development.