Seminar – Dr. Hongshen Ma: Technology Platforms for Interrogating Single Cells

Technology Platforms for Interrogating Single Cells

Speaker: Dr. Hongshen Ma, Associate Professor at UBC Mechanical Engineering, Principal Investigator of Multi-scale Design Laboratory. Associate Appointments: School of Biomedical Engineering, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Urologic Sciences.

Dr. Hongshen Ma will present on his research in red blood cell sorting and the development of a technology platform to isolate RNA.

Location: CEME Building (6250 Applied Science Lane), room 2202


Cells are the fundamental units of life. There is an increasing desire to study their properties and behaviours at the single cell level. My research group leverages advances in microfabrication, 3D printing, biomaterials, and mechatronic instrumentation to develop platform technologies for this field. I will present two vignettes from our work. First, I will describe the development of the microfluidic ratchet device to sort red blood cells based on deformability. We are using this device to assess the quality of donated red blood cells to select the most appropriate blood donors for sensitive transfusion recipients. Second, I will present the development of See-N-Seq, a technology platform to isolate RNA from single cells identified using microscopy. RNA can be considered to be a form of temporary memory in a cell, similar to RAM in computers. Therefore, the ability to isolate RNA from single cells can be used to readout transcriptional programs executed during cellular processes. To demonstrate the utility of this approach, we sequenced RNA from immune cells interfacing with their target cells in order to understand cellular decision-making processes arising from this event.


Hongshen Ma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UBC. Dr. Ma received his bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from the University of British Columbia, M.Sc. of Media Laboratory, and PhD in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Ma remained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Mechanical Engineering postdoctoral scholar before returning to UBC. He leads the Multi-Scale Design Lab, and is also associated with UBC’s School of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and the Centre for Blood Research.