Monthly Meeting

Next meeting:

Monday, October 10

Host Your Own Virtual Meeting

Grants are available for institutions that broadcast our Technical Program.

Technology Forum

Dr GardulloLou Coban

Manager, University of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory / President of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh

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“Balloon-Borne Observations of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse “

This talk is about using a helium filled weather balloon to collect data in the upper atmosphere using light sensors and a multitude of cameras to observe the 2017 total solar eclipse.  The subject of our interest is a phenomena known as shadow bands.  Shadow bands both precede and antecede a solar eclipse.  When we began thinking about this project we had no idea how to fill and launch a helium balloon.  The trials and tribulations, the successes and failures of flying various types of camera systems, payloads and equipment into the atmosphere will be presented.  Additionally, some of the technology systems used will be discussed.

Technical Program

Dr JonesDr. Steven A. Soper

2022 Ralph N. Adams Award Winner

Department of Chemistry, Department of Mechanical Engineering, BioEngineering, University of Kansas, Lawrence (KU-L) / Director, NIH Biotechnology Resource Center of BioModular Multi-scale Systems for Precision Medicine KU Comprehensive Cancer Center (KUCC)/ University of Kansas Medical Center / Kansas Institute for Precision Medicine (KIPM)

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“Use of Microfluidics and Single Cell Imaging for Analyzing Liquid Biopsy Markers: Circulating Tumor Cells and Extracellular Vesicles”

Liquid biopsies are generating significant interest for both basic and translational research. Indeed, the NIH/NCI is launching a national effort to explore the use of liquid biopsies for the early detection of cancer. For oncology, these markers include but are not limited to cell free DNA (cfDNA), circulating tumor cells (CTCs), and extracellular vesicles (EVs). While liquid biopsies have their advantages compared to solid tissue biopsies (minimally invasive acquisition of markers, frequent sampling, monitoring metastatic sites, and potential for early detection), they do have challenges: (i) They are a vast minority in a mixed population; (ii) limited molecular cargo for conventional cellular or molecular assays; and (iii) pre-analytics that highly affect the quality of downstream results. We have developed extensive infrastructure and know-how to analyze liquid biopsy markers in terms of their selective isolation and subsequent cellular and molecular analyses. In this presentation, we will discuss two projects that involve the use of microfluidics for the analysis of CTCs and EVs: (1) Using CTCs for monitoring response to therapy for pancreatic cancer patients; and (2) EVs for molecular sub-typing of breast cancer patients. (1) We have developed a CTC selection microfluidic that employs two chips modified with antibodies with each selecting a distinct CTC subpopulation from a single blood sample. In addition to the common marker used for CTC positive selection (EpCAM), Fibroblast Activation Protein alpha (FAPα) expressing CTCs are also selected. We have also developed a novel microfluidic for the fluorescence immunophenotyping of single cells and performing fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) assays on single cells to search for prognostic cytogenetic modifications. (2) Both EpCAM and FAPα were used as affinity agents to select EVs from plasma samples using a novel microfluidic, which consisted of a high density array of micropillars that provided high recovery and purity of the target EVs as well as a large dynamic range for securing quantitative results. Following selection, the exosomal RNA was used for expression profiling by labeling the exosomal mRNA with fluorescent bar-codes to identify relevant mRNAs, which permitted subtyping breast cancer patients into one of four types, Luminal A, Luminal B, Basal-like, and HER2 positive; subtype elucidation is critical in breast cancer patients to assure proper treatment.

Please note that the October Monthly Meeting will be held on a Monday.

Attend In-Person

The monthly meeting will be held in the Power Center Ballroom, Duquesne University. Registration for dinner is required.


5:00 PM – Social Hour
5:30 PM – Technology Forum
6:30 PM – Dinner
7:15 PM – Business Meeting
8:00 PM – Technical Program

Attend Virtually

The monthly meeting and Technical Program are accessible via the Zoom platform. Registration is required.


7:15 PM – Business Meeting
8:00 PM – Technical Program

PARKING: Duquesne University Parking Garage entrance is on Forbes Avenue. The Power Center can be accessed from the 8th Floor of the Forbes Garage. Bring your parking ticket to the dinner or meeting for a validation sticker.If there is a special event, please note that you are there for the SACP/SSP meeting.

About the Program Speaker

Prof. Soper is a Foundation Distinguished Professor in Chemistry, Bioengineering, and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kansas. At the KU Medical Center, Soper is a member of KU Cancer Center and has an adjunct appointment in Cancer Biology. Prof. Soper also holds an appointment at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in Ulsan, South Korea, where he is a World Class University Professor. As a result of his efforts, Prof. Soper has secured extramural funding totaling >$165M, published over 255 peer-reviewed manuscripts (h index = 70; 18,989 citations), 31 book chapters, 71 peer-reviewed conference proceeding papers, and is the author of 12 patents. He is also the founder of a startup company, BioFluidica, which is marketing devices for the isolation of liquid biopsy markers.

About the Forum Speaker

Lou Coban is the manager of the University of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory and the current president of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh.  He has been working at the Allegheny Observatory for nearly 30 years.  Starting out a part time telescope operator then becoming a full time technician and finally the manager.  Lou has his name on 9 scientific papers on varying subjects from astrometry to extrasolar planetary systems.