BIEN 470: Bioengineering Design Projects 2019-2020

The Capstone Design Project Proposals listed below are available to undergraduate students registered in the Department of Bioengineering. Students interested in a particular project are welcome express their interest by sending an email to the supervisor offering the project. Note that each project has been created for teams of 3 to 4 bioengineering students.

If you have any questions, please email designproject.bioeng [at] 


  • Building a software tool for multi-scale data integration and visualization of the human interactome

    • Supervisor: Professor Yu (Brandon) Xia
    • Description: The cell is the fundamental unit of life, yet the inner workings of the cell are far more complex than we ever imagined. Indeed, the development of a predictive model of the cell remains a fundamental challenge in bioengineering. Without a good model of the cell, it is difficult to develop new drugs to repair disease cells, or build new cells to produce much-needed chemicals and materials. A key ingredient of a predictive model of the cell is multi-scaleness, where atomic-level perturbations of the molecular circuitry are causally linked to systems- and network-scale changes in cell behavior.
  • Optimization of cryogenic freezing of bacterial cells 

    • Co-supervisors: Professor Allen Ehrlicher, Dr. Emilie Desfossés-Foucault (Biena Inc)
    • Description: The pelletizing machine instantly freezes the microbial cells protected by Cryoprotectants using liquid nitrogen forming microbeads of probiotic bacterial cells (shape of pearls). Instant Freezing allows to keep the integrity of cell walls and thereby enhance viability of the cells. However, there is an absence of data on the influence of pelletizing conditions on the viability of probiotics in microbeads. Therefore, the goals of this project are 1) to design/modify and establish a feeding system or conditions of production for optimum production capacity without causing the clogging of the distribution lines of nitrogen and 2) study the effect of all production parameters of pelletization on the cell viability before and after lyophilization.
  • Design of a high-resolution, fluorescence, open-source microscope 

    • Supervisor: Professor Adam Hendricks
    • Description: High-resolution fluorescence microscopy is often limited to specialized labs in high-resource settings. At the same time, 3D printers are becoming widely available. In this project, the team will design a microscope that can be built from a combination of 3D printed parts and widely-available lenses, fasteners, and cameras. The microscope will be capable of fluorescence imaging such that it could be used for immunohistochemistry in low-resource or remote settings.
  • Bio-Computation using biological agents

    • Supervisor: Professor Dan Nicolau
    • Description: Many mathematical and real-life problems, e.g., “travel salesman problem” (TSP), protein structure, cryptography, cannot be solved, if reasonable large, by the present computers, which process the information sequentially (albeit with extreme precision and speed). These mathematical problems can be solved if (i) they are translated in a graph; (ii) this graph is translated into a design of a microfluidic network; and (iii) the fabricated microfluidic structure is explored by individual biological agents, e.g., microorganisms, which act as simple CPUs.
  • Bio-Simulation using biological algorithms

    • Supervisor: Professor Dan Nicolau
    • Description: Many network-based real-life problems, e.g., travel and production scheduling, are not difficult mathematically, but the number of myriad possibilities makes computer simulations difficult. Additionally, real-life problems are at times difficult to be encoded in computer codes, due to the enormous variability of the agents involved in traffic situations. These problems are solved, however, easily by individual biological agents, from microorganisms, to ants and humans, who do not process the information sequentially, but in parallel, and who trade precision for heuristic decision-making.
  • Causes, prevention and treatment of gas embolism 

    • Supervisor: Professor Dan Nicolau
    • Description: One of the important causes of “accidental” death during, or occasioned by, surgery is air embolism, with obscure causes [2]. Importantly, many advanced surgery procedures today rely on catheters and on laparoscopy, which are sources of pressured gas introduced in human body, and conceptually prime causes of gas embolism.
  • Adeno-Associated Viral Vectors Manufacturing

    • Co-supervisors: Professor Amine Kamen, Dr. Parminder Chahal (NRC)
    • Description: Adeno-associated Virus (AAV) is considered a safe gene delivery system for gene therapy applications to cure genetic diseases. However, to meet the amount of AAV needed for the treatment, the production and purification have to be optimized to make it an economical method for gene therapy. The production is facing problems with low yields, and generation of empty viral particles that do not carry genetic material. The purification has recovery issues at different unit operations that needs improvement.
  • Process analytical tools to enable more cost-effective cell and gene therapy 

    • Co-supervisors: Professor Amine Kamen, Dr. Sven Ansorge (NRC)
    • Description: Cell and gene therapy offers tremendous promises to treat a wide variety of diseases. Some of these treatments are now commercially available, but remain limited to a small number of individuals, primarily due to their restrictive prices. One way to reduce therapy prices in the future is reducing the manufacturing costs of cell and gene therapies. Viral vectors are key tools in delivering cell and gene therapies, and lowering viral vector manufacturing costs will be directly translatable in reduced treatment price