Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
Postdoctoral Fellow

Timothy Sanchez
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Tim Sanchez is an experimental biophysicist currently researching embryo metabolism. Since joining the Needleman Laboratory, he has developed and optimized advanced microscopy methods to non-invasively measure natural signatures of metabolic state. In an interdisciplinary MRSEC collaboration, first as a seed project and now part of the Center's IRG2, they have worked to quantitatively measure energy production and consumption in a single cell in real time through a combination of Needleman microscopy techniques and ultra-sensitive, calorimetry measurements developed with the Vlassak group. In addition, these methods have not only allowed the team to measure novel metabolic features and events, but also demonstrated great potential as an embryo assessment tool for in vitro fertilization. Recognizing these discoveries could have a dramatic impact on success rates, Tim and his colleagues created a start-up, LuminOva, to translate this technology into a useful tool for clinicians and patients who struggle with infertility. They have been particularly interested in the relationship between metabolic energy production and spindle structure/function. The spindle is an elegant instance of self-organization, which is defined by the emergence of order in systems that consume energy to do work. This topic resonates with his earlier graduate work at the Brandeis MRSEC, during which he engineered a well-controlled model system, using microtubules and molecular motors, for studying self-organized phenomena.