Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.



Committee Chair

Chen, Joseph

Committee Member

Kopechek, Jonathan

Committee Member

Harnett, Cindy

Author's Keywords

mechanobiology; glioblastoma; microfluidics


Cancer progression is linked to the emergence of aberrant mechanical signaling in the tumor microenvironment. Modulation of extrinsic signals, such as ECM stiffness and composition, have been thoroughly explored. However, the development of solid stresses within the tumor remains poorly understood. To address this, we have developed a microfluidic platform that generates deformable alginate microbeads that allow for the quantification of compressive stresses generated within a growing glioblastoma (GBM) tumorsphere. PDMS microfluidic devices were fabricated via SU-8 mold with channels ranging from 10µm-40µm in diameter. Fluorescently labeled sodium alginate underwent a cross-linking reaction within the device to generate monodisperse beads proportional to the channel size. Physical characterization of microbeads included ImageJ particle analysis to calculate average diameter and atomic force microscopy to calculate elastic modulus. Microbeads were subsequently embedded into GBM spheroids, and their deformation was tracked longitudinally. Compressive stress distributions were extracted via 2D axisymmetric finite element-based models.