Despite being diminutive in size, these microchips have the potential to make big impacts on drug development and medical treatment testing. At LLNL, we are replicating the human body on a miniature scale, specifically focusing on brain physiology. Capturing human physiology outside the body allows us to probe and understand the human body without using human subjects. The body is a complex marvel and capturing all that on an integrated instrumented microfluidic chip that fits in the palm of your hands is an exciting challenge. This talk will describe how researchers at LLNL are using biology, 3D bioprinting, microchips and other technology to recreate human physiology outside the body.

Speaker Bios

Dr. Elizabeth Wheeler

Elizabeth Wheeler is a staff scientist and a group leader in the Materials Engineering Division. She began her career at LLNL as a post-doc after receiving her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University. She has been involved with bioinstrumentation at LLNL for 15 years. The majority of her career has focused on integrating biology and engineering to yield new platforms or flexible devices for Homeland Security or medical applications. She has worked on numerous multidisciplinary teams that have field tested technology developed at LLNL. Currently she is a team member on a Bioprinting Vasculature project and the Principal Investigator for both the in-vitro Chip-based Human Investigational Platform (iCHIP) and a DNA Tagged Reagents for Aerosol Experiments (DNATrax) project for which she won an R&D100 award in 2013.

Dr. Monica Moya

Dr. Moya is a biomedical engineer and researcher. She received her BS in Engineering from Northwestern University and her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology. She performed postdoctoral research at UC Irvine under a prestigious National Institutes of Health fellowship. Currently, she works as the principal investigator of 3D bioprinting at LLNL and as a technical lead on another bioengineering project, building a human on a chip. Dr. Moya was a first generation college student and has been committed to empowering students in STEM. She serves as a mentor for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, and she is a member of the outreach committee of the Pedrozzi scholarship Foundation and the alumni board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship program. She was recently recognized by the Empower Her Institute with a Millennial Leader Award, which recognizes accomplished professionals under 40 who are working for the advancement of girls and women in the arts, business, public service, and STEM fields.

Dr. Sarah Felix

Sarah Felix received her Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University (2000). After working for several years in the aerospace and defense industry (2000-2004), she returned to graduate school and earned a Masters and PhD in Mechanical Engineer from the University of California, Berkeley (2010). Upon completing her graduate studies, Sarah joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where she has worked in the areas of precision engineering, microfabrication, and bioMEMS.

Dr. Heather Enright


Postdoc, Pharmacology/Toxicology, LLNL, 2011-2014

Ph.D., Chemistry, University of California-Davis, 2011

B.S., Chemistry-Biology, University of Hartford, 2005

Healther Enright received her PhD in Chemistry from UC Davis in 2011. Shortly after completing her degree, she joined LLNL’s toxicology program. Dr. Enright has experience in many different areas including nanoparticle synthesis, radiochemistry, multimodal imaging, accelerator mass spectrometry and in vitro models of the nervous system. 


Multimodal imaging

Environmental toxicology


Dr. Kris Kulp

PhD, Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of California, Davis, 1995

BA, Chemistry, Knox College, Galesburg IL, 1983

Kris Kulp is the Deputy Division Leader for the Biosciences and Biotechnology Division and the Director of the LLNL Institutional Postdoc Program. She joined LLNL as a postdoc to do research on the role of dietary carcinogens in the development of human cancer. She has also worked on developing and applying advanced mass spectrometry techniques for determining disease effects on single cells and tissues. Currently, she is the biology lead for the LLNL iChip (in vitro Chip-based Human Investigational Platform) project, which is developing a tissue-based assay system that models human physiological response. As the Director of the Institutional Postdoc Program, she leads the lab’s efforts to create an exciting and productive environment to train young scientists for successful research careers. The postdoctoral program at the Lab is a critical component of the Lab's strategy for attracting world-class scientific talent, which is essential for maintaining the intellectual capabilities that are required for executing the Lab's science.

Erin McKay

Erin M. McKay is a Biology teacher at Tracy High School in Tracy, CA. She received her BS in Biology with an emphasis in Plant biology in 2001 and her Science teaching credential in 2002 from University of California Davis.  While attending UC Davis she interned at a small startup, AgraQuest, in their microbiology department. After finishing her education, she began teaching at Tracy high in 2002, and began participating in Lawrence Livermore National Lab's Teacher Research Academy. As of the summer of 2011, she and three other west coast teachers began collaborating with Rutgers University's Waksman Institute's student scholar program.  This program trains teachers and students how to do genuine Molecular Biology research in the classroom.  In the summer of 2012, Erin helped organize and instruct the student scholar program at Lawrence Livermore Lab's Teacher Research Academy.