Biothermal Sciences Laboratory

Vials of CHO cells, used in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, are cryopreserved and stored frozen at a temperature of –196°C.

About the BSL

The Villanova University Biothermal Sciences Laboratory (BSL) is dedicated to the investigation of multiscale thermal and transport phenomena in biological systems. It is the home of an interdisciplinary research group directed by Prof. Jens Karlsson in the Mechanical Engineering Department.

The BSL is a modern research facility located in the Center for Engineering Education and Research on Villanova's main campus, which is only 10 miles away from downtown Philadelphia. The laboratory houses state-of-the-art instrumentation for undergraduate and graduate research, including facilities for cell and tissue culture, cryopreservation, advanced biological microscopy, ultra-high speed imaging, and bioMEMS fabrication. More»

News and Announcements

WHYY Airs Interview with Dr. Karlsson March 21, 2014

A radio interview with Dr. Karlsson about his research in tissue cryopreservation was broadcast by WHYY-FM, the flagship NPR station in the Delaware Valley. The interview aired on The Pulse, a weekly program that focuses on issues of health, science, and innovation. Dr. Karlsson sat down with Maiken Scott, host of The Pulse, to discuss recent advances in cryopreservation research and the implications for regenerative medicine. More»

BSL Paper Makes Cover of Biophysical Journal November 5, 2013

The cover of the most recent issue of Biophysical Journal, one of the top journals in the field of biophysics, showcases a new research article from the Biothermal Sciences Laboratory. The study, titled "Effects of Intercellular Junction Protein Expression on Intracellular Ice Formation in Mouse Insulinoma Cells," was also the only paper in the journal's November 5, 2013 issue to receive the prestigious New and Notable designation, a recognition that includes publication of an accompanying overview article authored by an invited expert in the field. More»

BSL Awarded NSF Grant to Study Freezing of Zebrafish Eggs September 22, 2011

The National Science Foundation has awarded $660k to fund a collaborative research project between Villanova University and the Georgia Health Sciences University titled "Cryopreservation of Zebrafish Oocytes by an Interdisciplinary Approach". The Villanova University portion of this grant will support research in the Biothermal Sciences Laboratory over a three-year period starting in October, 2011. The award resulted from a grant proposal submitted jointly by Dr. Jens Karlsson of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Villanova University and Dr. Ali Eroglu from the Department of Medicine of the Georgia Health Sciences University. Dr. Angela DiBenedetto from the Villanova University Department of Biology will also participate in the research. More»

Recent Publications

  • Higgins and Karlsson. Effects of intercellular junction protein expression on intracellular ice formation in mouse insulinoma cells. Biophysical Journal 105: 2006-2015 (2013). doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2013.09.028 PubMed
    In this paper, we report the unexpected finding that the magnitude of the intercellular ice propagation rate does not depend on levels of gap junction expression. Instead, we found that correlation between intracellular ice formation events in neighboring cells can be caused by the synchronizing effects of paracellular ice penetration at the cell-cell interfaces.
  • Higgins and Karlsson. Effect of intercellular junction protein expression on water transport during freezing of MIN6 cells. Cryobiology 67: 248-250 (2013). doi: 10.1016/j.cryobiol.2013.07.005 PubMed
    This companion study to our 2013 paper in Biophysical Journal  demonstrates that membrane permeability changes are not responsible for the increased intracellular ice formation rate in cells with knocked-down expression of tight junctions and other intercellular junction proteins.
  • Higgins and Karlsson. Comparison of cell membrane water permeability in monolayers and suspensions. Cryo-Letters 33: 95-106 (2012). PubMed
    This study reports measurements of membrane permeability for endothelial and pancreatic cells, comparing the water transport characterics for cells in intact adherent cultures and in suspension. Our computer simulations based on the measured material properties revealed substantial differences in the susceptibility of monolayers and suspensions to intracellular ice formation.
Villanova University

Department of Mechanical Engineering · 800 E. Lancaster Avenue · Villanova · PA 19085-1681 · (610) 519-6250