Dino Di Carlo, an assistant professor of bioengineering, was awarded a Young Faculty Award (YFA) from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The goal of the DARPA YFA program is to identify and engage rising research stars in junior faculty positions in academia and expose them to Department of Defense (DoD) needs and DARPA’s program development process. The long term goal is to develop the next generation of academic scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in key disciplines who will focus a significant portion of their career on DoD and national security issues.
Specifically, Di Carlo’s project aims to monitor the immune state of an individual by examining shape changes in white blood cells when precisely squeezed. A key challenge is developing an automated and miniaturized tool that can repeatedly deform and measure thousands of white blood cells in a short time. The project leverages the strong ties between the Bioengineering Department and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to explore new territory for diagnosis of disease based on physical rather than molecular properties of cells.
Di Carlo has previously been awarded an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.
This year, DARPA awarded 39 young faculty awards. UCLA had two recipients of the award this year: Di Carlo, and Anastassia Alexandrova, a UCLA assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry.