Moran Bercovici

2019 Israel Award Winner — Faculty

Moran Bercovici

Current Position:
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Institution:
Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Discipline:
Analytical Chemistry

Recognized for: Development of novel microfluidic technologies for microscale manipulations of fluids and molecules, with applications to advanced chemical and biochemical analysis.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Microfluidics, Fluid Mechanics, Electrokinetics, Lab-on-a-Chip

Biography:

BSc, MSc, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
PhD, Stanford University, USA (Advisor, Prof. Juan G. Santiago)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Stanford University School of Medicine, USA (Advisor, Prof. Joseph C. Liao)

Microfluidics is focused on the science and technology of fluids at small scales. At nanometer to micrometer scales, the physicochemical behavior of fluidic systems can be drastically different from those we are used to observing at larger scales. For example, surface forces and electronic body forces that are usually negligible at large scales, can become dominant. Understanding these small-scale processes has the potential to not only miniaturize existing large-scale processes, but also to create new capabilities that are not all possible at large scales.

A central theme in Dr. Bercovici’s lab over the past several years has been the development of new microfluidic devices and assays for applications in life and medical sciences. The field of Lab-on-a-Chip seeks to enable chemical and biological processes to be performed rapidly, efficiently and automatically in small devices, thus revolutionizing biochemical analysis and processing in a similar way that computer chips have revolutionized data processing. Dr. Bercovici’s research focused on isotachophoresis – an electrophoretic technique capable of focusing molecules of interest into a narrow channel, based on their electrophoretic mobility. He and his team demonstrated that isotachophoresis can be used for acceleration of reaction kinetics, amplification-free detection of nucleic acids, high-sensitivity immunoassays, bacterial detection, and more. They have also demonstrated that some of these techniques can be implemented on extremely simple and low-cost devices made of paper, that may potentially be useful for bringing advanced molecular diagnostics to low-resource settings.

Dr. Bercovici’s current focus is on exploring physical mechanisms for the development of highly configurable microfluidic devices. Despite much progress in the field of Lab-on-a-Chip, microfluidic devices remain rigid structures composed primarily of channels carved in a rigid substrate, with strong coupling between the geometry of the channel and the functionality of the chip. Together with close collaborators, he and his team demonstrated the ability to control flow patterns using surface chemistry, field effect electrodes, or temperature gradients, all without the use of physical walls. They are now exploring the use of such mechanisms for creating desired deformation in elastic microdevices.

“I believe that the greatest opportunities for advancement of science and technology lie not within a single discipline, but rather at the interfaces between traditional disciplines. I owe any success I may have had in research to my outstanding mentors, collaborators and students who come from a variety of disciplines, and who continuously open my mind to new approaches and different ways of looking at the world. Somehow, in a process that is still magical to me, these interactions crystalize over time to new ideas, new concepts, new discoveries, and new technologies. I am deeply honored that the Blavatnik Award committee decided to award the prize in the Chemistry category to an engineer like me. I seek to further advance our understanding of basic physicochemical mechanisms in microfluidics, and to leverage it toward the creation of technologies that the world may benefit from.”

Key Publications:

  1. T. Z. Kalman, R. Khalandovsky, E. T. Gonikman, M. Bercovici. Monitoring Dissociation Kinetics during Electrophoretic Focusing to Enable High-Specificity Nucleic Acid Detection. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2018.

  2. F. Paratore, T. Z. Kalman, T. Rosenfeld, G. V. Kaigala, M. Bercovici. Isotachophoresis-Based Surface Immunoassay. Anal. Chem., 2017.

  3. S. Rubin, A. Tulchinsky, A. Gat, and M. Bercovici. Elastic deformations driven by non-uniform lubrication flows. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 2017.

  4. S. Rubin, M. E. Suss, P. M. Biesheuvel, M. Bercovici. Induced Charge Capacitive Deionization: The Electrokinetic Response of a Porous Particle to an External Electric Field. Phys. Rev. Lett., 2016.

Other Honors:

2018Harrington Faculty Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin
2018Hershel Rich Technion Innovation Award
2015Krill Prize for Excellence in Scientific Research, Wolf Foundation
2015Daniel Shiran Memorial Prize for oustanding research in BioMedicine
2015Elected to the "40 under 40" list of The Marker magazine
2013The Henri Gutwirth Prize for the Promotion of Research
2012Horev Fellow, Leaders in Science and Technology – Taub Foundation
2006Fullbright Doctoral Fellowship

 

In the Media:

Technology Networks – New Microfluidic Chip Boosts the Sensitivity of Immunoassays by >1000x

IBM blog – Monitoring FISH Assays in Real Time

Website