Dr. Crystal Rapier earned her PhD from the University of California, Irvine in Biomedical Engineering. She is interested in using a microfluidic platform to develop novel biomimetic materials, devices, and therapeutics.
Dr. Rapier is known for her self-motivation, creativity and strong independent research capability. Her knowledge of cell signaling of the immune system helped her conceive a method to activate the body’s defense system to specifically target a pathogen. She then formulated the idea of building microfluidic devices for producing lipid vesicles that could act as artificial cells for treating immune-deficiency diseases (e.g. AIDS).
Dr. Rapier hopes to develop new research skills in the Nanobioelectroics Laboratory (NBEL) at Ben-Gurion University, including integrating electrodes into microfluidic devices and then using these devices to model human biological responses. Eventually she would like to generate a personalized Blood Brain Barrier-on-Chip device that could biologically mimic the human blood brain barrier (BBB). She could use schizophrenic patients’ cells to personalize one of these devices, for instance, and then observe how the recapitulated BBB responds to antipsychotic drugs or artificial cells.
Dr. Rapier’s method might ultimately lead to the development of vaccines and other therapeutic measures for dealing with chronic and infectious disease outbreaks.