GAC Funded Research Receives Prestigious Award

HOUSTON – (July 29, 2015) – R&D Magazine named the handheld single-cell pipette, a Houston Methodist Research Institute invention funded by a Houston Golfers Against Cancer research grant, as a finalist for the 53rd annual R&D 100 Awards, which honor the 100 most innovative technologies and services of the past year.

Lidong Qin, Ph.D., associate professor in the nanomedicine department at Houston Methodist Research Institute, led a team of researchers in determining how to pick up and transfer single cells using a pipette — a common laboratory tool tweaked slightly for this purpose. Qin’s team described this engineering accomplishment and preliminary test results in a 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. An independent judging panel and the editors of R&D Magazine chose the single-cell pipette (SCP) as a finalist for an award in the Analytical/Test category.

One of the biggest challenges for single-cell research is picking out only one cell from a collection of millions. Few technologies exist that allow researchers to withdraw single animal or bacterial cells from a tube, which is why the Houston Methodist team developed the handheld single-cell pipette, or hSCP.

The prototype has two plungers. The first plunger withdraws fluid from a suspension of cells, and can also wash and separate the captured cell from other cells that may have been extracted. The second plunger pushes the captured cell out of the pipette, possibly into growth medium, or onto a slide or welled plate for study.

Qin said one of his goals is to make the technology cost $10 or less per run. Future designs of the hSCP will be developed with mass production in mind.

Also contributing to this project were Kai Zhang, Ph.D., whom Qin credits with helping to translate the initial design into a working device, and Sharon Li.

This year’s R&D 100 winners will be presented with their honors at the annual black-tie dinner on Nov. 13 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Since 1963, the R&D 100 Awards have identified revolutionary technologies newly introduced to the market.

To speak with Qin, please contact Gale Smith, Houston Methodist, at 832-667-5843  orgsmith@houstonmethodist.org.

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