Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering


Adrienne Minerick


Type 1 diabetes affects over 108,000 children, and this number is steadily increasing. Current insulin therapies help manage the disease but are not a cure. Over a child’s lifetime they can develop kidney disease, blindness, cardiovascular disease and many other issues due to the complications of type 1 diabetes. This autoimmune disease destroys beta cells located in the pancreas, which are used to regulate glucose levels in the body. Because there is no cure and many children are affected by the disease there is a need for alternative therapeutic options that can lead to a cure.

Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are an important cell source for stem cell therapeutics due to their differentiation capacity, self-renewal, and trophic activity. hMSCs are readily available in the bone marrow, and act as an internal repair system within the body, and they have been shown to differentiate into insulin producing cells. However, after isolation hMSCs are a heterogeneous cell population, which requires secondary processing. To resolve the heterogeneity issue hMSCs are separated using fluorescent- and magnetic-activate cell sorting with antigen labeling. These techniques are efficient but reduce cell viability after separation due to the cell labeling. Therefore, to make hMSCs more readily available for type 1 diabetes therapeutics, they should be separated without diminishing there functional capabilities. Dielectrophoresis is an alternative separation technique that has the capability to separated hMSCs.

This dissertation uses dielectrophoresis to characterize the dielectric properties of hMSCs. The goal is to use hMSCs dielectric signature as a separation criteria rather than the antigen labeling implemented with FACS and MACS. DEP has been used to characterize other cell systems, and is a viable separation technique for hMSCs.