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Ali Ahmadi, PhD

Ali Ahmadi, PhD


Assistant Professor, Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering

EXPERTISE

  • Biomedical engineering
  • Sensing and liquid handling technologies
  • Microfluidics
  • Electrohydrodynamics

RESEARCH AREAS

  • Lab-on-a-chip
  • Point-of-care devices
  • Bioprinting
  • Biosensing

CAPABILITIES FOR INDUSTRY COLLABORATORS

  • Automated liquid handling systems for lab procedures
  • Microfluidic-based assays
  • In vitro tissue models for drug discovery and tissue engineering
  • Biodegradable implants and scaffolds
  • Systems for portable lab and diagnostic tools for use in field work
  • Diagnostic tools for testing food and water quality, pipeline monitoring, remote detection of gases and pathogens, and more

Personal loss refocused Ali Ahmadi’s studies and career. His father died while Ahmadi was studying mechanical engineering. From then on, rather than explore how to make cars travel farther on less fuel, Ahmadi looked for ways that engineering could improve health and possibly save lives. 

No larger than a business-card, Ahmadi’s lab-on-a-chip technology can replace centrifuges and other bulky, common tools in typical lab settings to automate repetitive tasks like mixing, separation and liquid handling. Lab-on-a-chip mimics those traditional processes at a micro-scale. Requiring only tiny samples translates into benefits for chemistry, biology and pharmaceutical labs: savings on reagents and pricey compounds; speedier incubation and reaction times; and easier observations and analysis.

Beam me up

Ahmadi’s technologies look suited for a medical bay on the Starship Enterprise. Lab-on-a-chip can be added to point-of-care systems. Picture a device like handheld grocery scanners, but average citizens, not medical professionals, can easily use these scanners to carry out blood tests and other health monitoring. For the seafood industry, point-of-care systems could test water and food quality by searching for pathogens and bacteria. Likewise, the systems could serve as mobile labs in emergency situations, natural disasters, conflicts, or even underdeveloped countries lacking labs. 

Bioprinting—Ahmadi’s other fascination—is where inkjets meet 3D printing with a biology twist. Instead of printing with just ink or plastics, bioprinting uses live cells, collagen and solutions to print tissue or bone grafts that repair injuries. Keeping the cells alive is complex business, yet applications for drug discovery are promising. Instead of testing pharmaceuticals on animals or relying on mere cells in a petri dish, bioprinting can create a test model to act like a body prior to clinical tests.

Ahmadi’s research pushes boundaries, crosses disciplines and inspires industry and engineering students alike.

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