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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/H046593/1
Title: Microdroplet technology - the next stage
Principal Investigator: Abell, Professor C
Other Investigators:
Huck, Professor W Edel, Professor JB de Mello, Professor AJ
Hollfelder, Professor F
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2010 Ends: 30 April 2014 Value (£): 1,067,243
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Analytical Science Bioprocess Engineering
Chemical Biology Microsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
16 Feb 2010 Basic Tech Translation Grants Call 5 Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This application is for funding a newly established microdroplets technology after the current Basic Technology grant ends. In this grant research at the two centers, at Cambridge and Imperial, was arranged to be complementary to tackle biological, chemical and physical challenges. At Imperial the focus is to create and define sophisticated optical techniques for droplet interrogation (including fluorescence, IR, Raman, RI), create functional components for droplet manipulation and to integrate these activities with the biological programmes at Cambridge. At Cambridge the focus is on developing biological applications, including DNA amplification, in vitro transcription and translation, enzymatic and cell based assays. There has also been a major effort to integrate microfluidics with mass spectrometry. At the review meeting at the end of year three, we were ahead of schedule in meeting the objectives of the grant, as we have been throughout. The research enabled us to become one of the leading groups in the emerging microdroplets area. Our output to date includes 30 publications and two patents. In this application we propose 6 proof-of-principle studies that will underpin future grant applications, and if successful, will form the foundation for a spin-out company (for which we have carried out patent landscaping and market analysis) and/or significant licensing deals. All the proposed projects are novel and outside the scope of the original BT grant. Several relate to high content screening of cell based systems, essentially screens where we get multi-parameter information out of a system over an extended period of time. Others explore the power of compartmentalisation, and the opportunities this brings to do novel experiments. The proposed studies are in: algal biofuels; analysis of secreted proteins; calcium flux assays; passive, disposable devices for DNA amplification; single cell sequencing; and separation of complex mixtures of proteins. We consider that using microdroplets will enable a transformational change in research in each of these areas, some of which are of potentially huge commercial value. In each case we have identified academic collaborators and potential commercial partners. The Translational Grant provides a funding mechanism to maintain momentum and develop this potential. It enables us to retain key personnel and support the research infrastructure funded on the BT grant. It provides the kind of flexible support we need while negotiating industrial collaborations, and also provides travel funding for us to actively collaborate with groups internationally, and for us to stimulate interaction with interested parties e.g. by encouraging extended visits by researchers keen to learn about the technology.An active programme of dissemination is planned. We have already given 84 talks, met with 11 companies and organized a major symposium to disseminate the research. Two further symposia are planned as well as a very active interaction with industry. The resources requested are primarily for six PDRAs each funded for 50% of their time, limited consumables, and a significant sum for travel and dissemination. The management of this grant will broadly follow that for the BT grant, which has been acknowledged to be very successful.
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Organisation Website: http://www.cam.ac.uk