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Cancer contributes to over 1600 deaths each day in the United States . Therefore, it is in the national interest to develop new cancer treatments and diagnostic tools. The development of these tools requires an increased understanding of cancer at the cellular level. Cancerous cells and healthy cells exhibit differences in their mechanical properties such as rigidity . By measuring cells with Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), researchers discovered cancerous cells to exhibit a four times lower rigidity and narrower standard deviation of this mechanical property than healthy cells . Researchers have an array of tools to measure the mechanical properties of cells with incredible precision such as AFM; however, these devices are slow. We are engineering a new device that combines the measurement of cell rigidity and sorting of cells on that basis at high throughput of 100 cells/s. The mechanical sensing portion of the device consists of an oscillating microelectromechanical system (MEMS) based probe and sensor fabricated using methods from integrated circuit fabrication. The sensing portion is integrated within a microfluidic device to provide an instantaneous measure of mechanical properties. My part in the project is to develop the sorting component of the device that will use the measure of cell rigidity to sort cells downstream from the sensor. In this role, I will provide the engineering-based understanding of a complex, integrated system such that my colleagues in biology will have an effective tool for high throughput cell mechanobiology. Combining mechanical property measurement and sorting cells at high throughput into a single device can add a new tool to the arsenal to understand and help combat cancer.
 American Cancer Society, “Cancer Facts & Figures 2014,” 2014.
 S. E. Cross et al., “Nanomechanical analysis of cells from cancer patients,” Nat Nano, vol. 2, no. 12, pp. 780–783, Dec. 2007.