INVENTED HERE! – Rebecca carrier

A revolutionary. A believer. A scientist. Rebecca Carrier has been pushing boundaries, questioning the impossible, and solving complex problems. A tissue culture hero, she has empowered cells and engineered them to dance to her tunes. But this time around, Carrier invented a device.

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Rebecca Carrier, Professor & Associate chair of Research for Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University, has stepped into the arena of cell culture inserts. Cell culture inserts are used in conjunction with well plates for the growth and differentiation of various cell types. Inserts find applications in all fields of cell culture ranging from immune-oncology to stem cell research. Carrier’s cell culture insert provides access to both apical and basal domains of the cell culture, making it possible to study both sides of a cell monolayer, or to study a co-culture of two or more cell types by creating a biomimicry boundary. These inserts increase access to the area of the cell thereby disclosing more qualitative properties for analysis.

Controlling conditions at the apical domain of a cell culture insert is difficult, however. Any manipulation at the apical domain (for example, providing media to the cell culture) typically requires exposing the apical surface of the cell culture to the environment thereby risking contamination. Moreover, the direct application of fluid to the apical surface of a cell culture can result in uneven distribution of the fluid over the cell layer causing physical disturbance to the cells themselves.

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Specialized cell culture systems have been developed that can provide more precise control of fluid flow to apical and basal surfaces of a cell culture. Yet, such specialized cell culture systems (which include custom-shaped wells, flow chambers, and cell culture channels) are fully integrated systems that are often incompatible with other cell culture equipment. Such systems are also harder to operate than conventional hanging cell culture inserts because cell seeding is not as straightforward as seeding with an open insert, which is the common practice in most labs. Additionally, hanging cell culture inserts are more widely available and more frequently used by researchers than specialized cell culture systems.

There exists a need for a device capable of controlling apical flow to a cell culture grown in an insert permitting cultures to be grown in a suspended environment relative to a well plate. Carrier met this need, and then some, by designing a robust, durable, economic, and highly efficient system that can control the flow and increase the plurality of the ports, incorporate sensors, and much more. Her multi-layered system offers less contamination, healthier cells, and, importantly, ease of operation.

As this invention illustrates, Rebecca Carrier knows how to tackle problems that loom over scientists. Her innovation propels science forward with efficiency, proving that she is, indeed, a science hero.


Invented Here! Event Information

The 2019 Invented Here! Award Event will be held on November 6th from 6:00 – 9:00pm at the Exchange Conference Center. The evening includes a networking reception, interviews with Featured Inventors, and a chance to connect with forward thinking professionals from across the region.

Come join us as we celebrate Northeastern inventorship and New England innovation! Click here for more information.


Written by Divya Parikh.

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