Gerard Markx was recently appointed as Professor in Bioprocessing at Heriot-Watt University. Before his appointment at Heriot-Watt he was in the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science at the University of Manchester. Prof Markx's research is primarily aimed at the development of novel physical techniques for the characterisation, separation and micromanipulation of cells. He has particularly strong expertise in the study of the dielectric properties of cells and its applications, but also has interests in other techniques such as ultrasound and optical techniques.
Research efforts within his research group concentrate on the investigation of multicellular systems such as tissues and biofilms, investigating how they emerge, how they can be artificially created, and what consequences architecture has for cellular growth, activity and differentiation. A range of microbial, plant and animal cells are used in the experiments. To be able to create and investigate biomaterials with spatial structure at the micro scale you have to be able to grow cells, investigate their properties, separate them, bring them together selectively and in the right position and orientation, and immobilize them. In addition, you have to be able to monitor subsequent changes in cell numbers, cell properties and cell activity. As a result, the research group has an interest in a wide variety of techniques, including cell culture, analytical biotechnology, miniaturisation and microfabrication, separation technology and modelling. The work has applications in a variety of areas, in particular tissue engineering/regenerative medicine and environmental biotechnology.