Mark A. Burns, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Mark Burns is Professor and Chair of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Michigan, College of Engineering. His research and teaching interests include biochemical separations, fundamental and applied fluid flow, microfabricated chemical analysis systems, and DNA genotyping. Dr. Burns’ research focuses on microfluidics and the integrated systems that can be used in health-related biochemical analysis. Future advances in these microfluidic systems could revolutionize disease diagnosis, drug discovery, and pathogen detection. His research group is working to alleviate the economic and technical complexities of the technology to make it more commercially available. Dr. Burns is the recipient of numerous awards for research and teaching, and is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.
Research Interests: Microfluidics, biochemical separations, microfabricated chemical analysis systems, DNA genotyping and sequencing -- Many chemical analysis systems require extensive measuring, mixing, and separation/detection operations before data can be collected. Some of these tests, such as hospital tests for bacterial infections, would greatly benefit by an increased processing speed; all would benefit by a decrease in labor and materials costs. In recent years, a number of companies have integrated all the required steps for a particular test into a simple format (home pregnancy kits are a good example). We are constructing miniaturized chemical analysis systems using microfabrication techniques. The devices consist of micron-scale reaction, separation, and detection systems connected by a series of micromachined channels. Samples are injected into these devices and then moved between components by a variety of techniques including surface tension control and hydrophobic/hydrophilic patterning. Reaction chambers in these devices can be used for selective amplification or digestion of reactants. The products of these reactions can then be analyzed using separation techniques such as electrophoresis. Integration of all these steps produces a micro-scale device that can act as an intelligent sensor. Currently, our main focus is the analysis and sequencing of DNA although the techniques used can be applied to a variety of chemical analysis systems.