Our Faculty

Steve Soper

Steven Soper, Ph.D.

Professor Steven A. Soper received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1989, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked on single-molecule detection for high speed sequencing of the human genome. In 1991, he joined the faculty at Louisiana State University, LSU, within the Department of Chemistry, where he filled the William H. Pryor Distinguished Chair of Chemistry. Professor Soper also held joint appointments in the Mechanical Engineering Department and Department of Biological Sciences. While at LSU, he founded the Center for BioModular Multi-Scale Systems, which has as its primary charge to develop enabling and transformative tools for making health-related measurements at unprecedented speeds with full process automation directly at the Point-of-Care. Some of these tools include integrated systems for determining bacterial/viral infections of unknown strains in patients, evaluating brain damage/injury, sampling blood for rare cells such as circulating tumor cells and their molecular analysis, and sequencing genomes in near real time. These tools consist of microfluidic and nanofluidic devices made in polymers via micro- and/or nanoreplication.

Professor Soper is currently a Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kansas. He also holds an appointment at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in Ulsan, South Korea, where he is a World Class University Professor. He is also serving as a Science Advisor for a number of major worldwide companies, such as Roche Diagnostics and EMD Millipore. Professor Soper is also the Editor of the Americas for the Analyst and on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Fluorescence and Journal of Micro- and Nanosystems. Professor Soper is also serving as a permanent Member of the Nanotechnology study panel with the National Institutes of Health.

As a result of his efforts, Professor Soper has secured extramural funding totaling more than $47M and has published over 260 manuscripts, h index = 56, and is the author of 12 patents. He is also the founder of a startup company, BioFluidica, which is marketing devices for the isolation and enumeration of circulating tumor cells. His list of awards includes Chemical Instrumentation from the American Chemical Society, the Benedetti-Pichler Award for Microchemistry, Fellow of the AAAS, Fellow of Applied Spectroscopy, Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, R&D 100 Award, Distinguished Masters Award at LSU and Outstanding Scientist/Engineer in the state of Louisiana in 2001. Finally, Professor Soper has granted 40 PhD and 5 MS degrees to students under his mentorship.

Francis Barany

Francis Barany, Ph.D.

Professor Francis Barany received his Ph.D. in 1981 in Microbiology at The Rockefeller University with Professor Alexander Tomasz. He was a Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellow with Professor Hamilton O. Smith at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1982-1985. Upon appointment as an Assistant Professor in Microbiology at Weill Cornell Medical College in 1985, he was named a Cornell Scholar in Biomedical Sciences, and in 1992 received a five year Hirschl/Monique Weill-Caulier Career Scientist Award. He currently holds the rank of Full Professor in the Department of Microbiology at Weill-Cornell. He held adjunct appointments at The Rockefeller University in the Dept. of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Structural Biology, as well as Director of Mutation Research at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center. Dr. Barany has served as the chair of Partnerships for Point of Care, POC, Diagnostic Technologies, and Innovative Technologies for the Molecular Analysis of Cancer NIAID and NCI review groups.

A prolific inventor with 48 issued US patents, he is best known for developing the ligase chain reaction, LCR, ligase detection reaction, LDR, and Universal DNA arrays, which are the foundation of commercial tests to diagnose genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, detect infectious pathogens, identify cancer mutations, and identify diseases using DNA microarrays and targeted Next-Gen sequencing. The Barany Laboratory patents and intellectual property have generated over $30 million in NIH, NIST and Industrial Grants, over $13 million in royalties to Weill-Cornell, and over $5 billion in sales to biotechnology companies. In 2009 he co-founded Coferon, Inc., $19M raised, based on his invention of a new class of drugs that enter cells and self-assemble on the target. With Coferon, Inc., the Barany Laboratory established in vitro inhibition of beta-tryptase with coferons, as well as potent inhibition of the target in animals. In 2012 he co-founded iCareDx Inc., to develop a highly accurate blood test for early detection of colorectal cancer. Dr. Barany was honored as Medical Diagnostics Research leader, Scientific American 50 in 2004, the Ezra Innovation Award, Cornell University in 2011, and the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry Award for Significant Contributions in Molecular Diagnostics in 2014.


David Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor David G. Kaufman majored in Physics as an undergraduate at Reed College. He received his M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, Missouri) in 1968; and his Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology (with an emphasis on molecular biology) in 1973. He did his residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Barnes-Washington University Hospital. He did postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Maryland), focusing on lung cancer and DNA replication research. He was recruited to the Department of Pathology at the University of North Carolina in 1975 and he has remained there to the present. He is currently Professor in the department and formerly was Vice Chair. Throughout this interval Dr. Kaufman has practiced medicine as an attending anatomic pathologist at the University of North Carolina Hospitals. Concurrently, he pursued an active and diverse research program. Related to clinical service in gynecologic oncologic pathology, he participated in an epidemiologic study of the relationship between post-menopausal estrogen therapy and endometrial cancer. This study provided powerful evidence that estrogen therapy caused endometrial cancer. In a subpopulation of this study patients that received progestins in addition to estrogen he recognized that progestins not only eliminated the excess risk from estrogen but actually lowered the risk below that of controls who were not taking hormones. Based on his interest in endometrial cancer he studied human endometrial tissue in organ and cell culture. Eventually he was able to reconstitute human endometrial tissue in co-cultures with the morphology of endometrial tissue in vivo and the ability to respond to hormones with physiologic changes characteristic of the menstrual cycle. Other studies revealed that the mitogenic effects of estrogen on endometrial epithelial cells involved paracrine responses resulting from estrogen effects on co-cultured endometrial stromal cells.

He also studied the relationship between the cell cycle and carcinogenesis. He showed that synchronized cells were most vulnerable to malignant transformation when treated with chemical carcinogens as they entered the S-phase of the cell cycle. He also showed that DNA at the site of replication was exquisitely vulnerable to attach by chemical carcinogens. In efforts to characterize DNA replication and repair the adopted single fiber (molecule) analysis, tracing the localization of newly replicated DNA and DNA damage sites tagged with fluorescent probes.

Dr. Kaufman has received many extramural grants from the NIH to support his research, to support graduate and postdoctoral training and to purchase high end common-use equipment. He has published nearly 200 papers and book chapters. He has trained 12 students granted PhDs and about 40 postdoctoral trainees.
Dr. Kaufman has served in a number of capacities in national societies and advisory bodies. He was a committee member, committee chair and council member for grant awarding agencies, including the NIH, National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. He was a member of several scientific committees of the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. He served on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board and on the Advisory Board of the Association of American Medical Colleges. He was President the leading society in his discipline, the American Society for Investigative Pathology. Later, he was President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, which represents nearly 100,000 scientists.

Michael C. Murphy

Michael C. Murphy

Michael Murphy, a Roy O. Martin Lumber Company Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, received his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1977, and an MS in Aeronautics from Caltech in 1978. Between 1978-1985 he was with the Missile Systems Group of Hughes Aircraft Company in Canoga Park, CA, as a member of the technical staff and staff doctoral fellow. He earned his Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering in 1990 and spent the next two years as an instructor for design there, before joining the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1992. He spent 1992-1993 as a visiting scientist at the Institut für Mikrostrukturtechnik at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, IMT-FzK. At LSU, he helped establish the microsystems research facilities and program. In 1995, he was awarded an NSF CAREER proposal for work in medical applications of microsystems. He spent his sabbatical in 2005 at the Center for Engineering in Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Toner.

Professor Murphy's research is focused on biomedical applications of microsystems and modular micro-/nanofluidic systems. The work on modular systems addresses the factors affecting the limits of modularity and includes work on the use of passive alignment structures in polymer devices, <12 µm, thermal isolation of temperature zones in stacked and planar modules, highly parallel micro-titer plate formatted systems with microfluidic reactors at each well location, demonstration of gasketless seal technology, two phase flow for high throughput, and high flow rate capture of target cells, 750 µL/min. His group has also pioneered novel tools for assembling multi-scale polymer microfluidic systems. These have been applied to a diverse set of biomedical applications including CTC capture, rapid thermal reactors for mutation detection using PCR/LDR, and the characterization of the type of stroke.

Sunggook Park

Sunggook Park, Ph.D.

Professor Sunggook Park received his Ph.D. in 2002 in Physics at Technical University Chemnitz, Germany with Professor Dietrich R.T. Zahn. He was a postdoctoral researcher in the Laboratory for Micro- and Nanotechnology at Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland where he gained expertise in nanofabrication with nanoimprint lithography as the key technology. H joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at Louisiana State University in 2005. He was a recipient of the prestigious Young Investigator’s CAREER Award from NSF. He currently holds the rank of Associate Professor and L.R. Daniel Professorship in the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department. He is also serving as the Graduate Advisor and Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee of Mechanical Engineering.

Professor Park's research focuses on developing low cost and high throughput technologies to produce micro/nanostructured tools and platforms that enable controlling and manipulating matter in the component, device and system levels. While at LSU, he has developed innovative molding technologies for complex and multi-scale structures comprising 2D/3D micro/nanostructures for bioanalytic micro and nanofluidic applications, and also contributed to understanding and improving demolding process for nanoimprint lithography by studying interfacial properties and deformation behavior at the resist/stamp interfaces. He is an author or co-author of over 65 publications in archival journals and 38 publications in conference proceedings, on topics concerning thermal and mechanical properties of polymer thin films on Si wafers, electronic structures and electrical transport behavior at interfaces between organic semiconductors and inorganic substrates, and fundamentals and applications of nanoimprint lithography, NIL, and nanofabrication including low cost manufacturing of nanopore and nanochannel-based fluidic devices, patterning of biomaterials, polymer optical components, liquid crystal displays and surface coating for anti-adhesive layer of NIL stamps.

Maggie Witek

Maggie Witek, Ph.D.

Dr. Maggie A. Witek received MSc. and Chemical Engineering degree from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Technology at Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice, Poland in 1997. She earned Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Michigan State University in 2002 under tutelage of Prof. Greg M. Swain. Her doctoral work focused on the development of new micro- and nano-crystalline boron-doped diamond thin film electrodes. She joined Prof. Steven A. Soper research group at LSU Department of Chemistry in 2002. During her post-doctoral appointment, she evaluated controlled biological cell transport via electro-migration in polymeric microfluidic devices, specifically she focused on electrophoretic pre-concentration of bacterial cells from blood. In 2004 she joined the CBMM as a Research Associate. During next 6 years she developed polymer-based, lab-on-a-chip devices for biomedical applications such as the separation, high throughput solid-phase nucleic acid purification and molecular testing (i.e., PCR, LDR, microarrays). Dr. Witek established a working group for undergraduate, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, professors organizing Professional Development Seminar Series in the Department of Chemistry and CBMM at LSU. Monthly meetings for chemistry, biochemistry, and engineering fellows ranged from traditional research seminars to informal discussions with young faculty whom shared their academic experiences, inviting entrepreneurs to talk about opportunities in industrial-academic collaborations, and hands-on workshops on resume writing and effective presentation skills. This working group allowed for scholars to become acquainted with one another, discuss new research ventures, and build a network throughout the university.

Dr. Witek is currently an Assistant Research Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her main focus of research is microfluidic-based isolation of liquid biopsy markers including low abundant circulating tumor cells (CTCs) using Ab modified microfluidic chip, followed by molecular profiling/sequencing of CTCs; and also selection of exosomes and cell free DNA for cancer and stroke diagnostics. Dr. Witek developed a diverse background from extensive collaborations with chemists, biologists, and engineers at LSU, and oncologists at the UNC School of Medicine. Collaborations with the UNC School of Medicine have been especially important in the testing of microfluidic technology with clinical samples.

Collin McKinney

Collin McKinney

Collin McKinney is currently the Director of the Electronics Design Facility at the Chemistry Department at UNC Chapel Hill. In this capacity, he leads a team of engineers and technicians in the research, design, and construction of instrumentation. Additionally, he directs the design of software used in a wide variety of disciplines, including electrochemistry, electrophysiology, NMR, mass spectrometry, ophthalmology, pharmaceutics, and laser particle analysis. Specifically, he directs the design and manufacture of instrumentation for the electrochemical measurement of neurotransmitter concentrations in the brains of freely-moving animals. This instrumentation, along with the popular HDCV software, is used in laboratories worldwide. He is also involved in systems design for miniature mass spectrometry, including RF sources, amplifiers, magnetics, and feedback control. In addition, he is currently president of two technology companies, M2 Innovations, Inc. and VoChor, Inc. and was previously a co-founder of startup companies Tracera and Biosystems Technologies. He holds 2 patents, has 1 book chapter and 16 refereed publications along with numerous posters and presentations.

Prior to coming to UNC, he was an Associate in Research in the Radiology Department PET Facility at Duke University Medical Center where he designed laboratory automation equipment, performed research in nuclear targetry and radiopharmaceutical synthesis, and assisted with ANDA submissions for new PET radiopharmaceuticals. Collin began his professional career as an engineer with the Digital Systems Division of Texas Instruments.




Precision Medicine

Precision Medicine