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Biomedical Microdevices Lab


Other Research Projects


Nanoporous membranes for renal replacement therapy - the implantable bioartificial kidney


  • End-stage renal disease (ESRD) or chronic kidney failure affects 500,000 Americans and is increasing in prevalence at an annual rate of 5-7%.
  • Dialysis is an expensive, short-term solution with a high mortality rate. Only 35% of patients remain alive after five years. Dialysis does not perform all of the functions of the natural kidney.
  • Treatment of ESRD patients by transplant is hindered by the shortage of donor organs, while dialysis is expensive and confers significant morbidity and mortality.
  • A bioartificial kidney has been developed by clinical collaborators at the University of Michigan, called the extracorporeal Renal Assist Device (RAD), it occupies an entire room and, like dialysis, the patient is tethered to the device.
  • The UCSF Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory is using MEMS technology to miniaturize a bioartificial kidney that performs many of the functions of the natural kidney (beyond the filtering provided by dialysis alone) is surgically implanted into a patient, requires no tethers to machines outside the body, and requires no pumps or electrical devices to operate.

Note on the Implantable Bioartificial Kidney Project:
The bioartificial kidney project as a whole is led by Shuvo Roy, PhD, associate professor, UCSF Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences and director of the UCSF Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory. Dr. Roy also leds the membrane research component of the work.   
Phase 1 of the comprehensive project has been funded by a $3.2 M Quantum Grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) to assess feasibility and identify best approaches.  As of September 2010, results have demonstrated proof of concept for the essential components of the device, including high performance membranes for hemofiltration, surface coatings for enhanced biocompatibility, and cell isolation, propagation and preservation techniques for bioreactor development, and efficacy in animals.   See the initial Phase 1 Quantum Grant summary: http://www.nibib.nih.gov/Research/QuantumGrants/Roy
Phase 2 of the project, will integrate the Phase 1 successes made possible by the Quantum Grant by continuing engineering and development to show additional efficacy of the device in animals and functionality in end stage renal disease patients.


Wireless pressure microsensors for spine fusion monitoring


  • Conventional methods to monitor healing of the spine after intervertebral fusion surgery cannot provide the patient and surgeon with accurate real-time information on fusion status or the possibility of spinal instrumentation
  • The Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory at UCSF is developing implantable wireless MEMS pressure sensors for real-time evaluation of the bone fusion status.
  • The wireless pressure sensor chip consists of a variable capacitor and a spiral coil fixed inductor, which combine to create a LC tank circuit with a characteristic resonant frequency.
  • Typical chip sizes range from 2 mm x 2 mm to 8 mm x 8 mm.
  • Pressure fluctuations within the bone would be monitored to provide an accurate and reproducible assessment of intervertebral fusion status.

High resolution ultrasonic microtransducers for vulnerable plaque detection


  • Recent medical discoveries reveal that heart attacks are primarily caused by undetected vulnerable plaques that are embedded in the artery
  • A promising approach to identification of vulnerable plaque may be based on Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)
  • Unfortunately, the image resolution of the current IVUS systems (~100 μm in the axial direction) is insufficient for vulnerable plaque detection.
  • The Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory at UCSF is collaborating with interventional cardiologists at the Cleveland Clinic and IVUS companies to reduce the ultrasonic microtransducer into a format suitable for catheter implementation while maintaining high image resolution.



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Roy Laboratory
1700 4th Street
Building QB3
Room 204 Box 2520
UCSF Mission Bay Campus
San Francisco, CA 94158-2330

Fax Number: 415-514-9656
Phone Number: 415-476-5714
University of California, San Francisco
Department of Bioengineering and
Therapeutic Sciences
QB3: California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research