Miami University

Instrumentation Laboratory Project Page

Project: Gut Simulator

Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry

Primary Investigator: Dr. Jiangjiang (Chris) Zhu

Purpose: Studies of human gut microbes and their metabolites are often hindered by the complexity of the ecosystem. Due to various restraints and ethical considerations, human studies of gut microbial metabolites tend to be correlative and inconclusive. Alternatively, the gut microbe studies can be examined in in vitro colonic models with carefully designed experiments. The colonic models can be “humanized” by colonizing them with human intestinal microbes, providing an exciting tool for examining the function of a specific human microbiota and testing how the microbiota interacts with specific perturbations and other environmental factors that influence gut microbial metabolism. 

Main Screen of NI program
complete backview completeside view Electronics Box View of Electronics Box Frontview Hardware

IL Comment: The PI came to the Instrumentation Lab to discuss building an “in-house” gut simulator system, requiring an instrument to simulate the different phases of the human digestion system (human "gut"). The system required automation that would run over the course of a long experiment (weeks at a time) and required precise timing to transfer the medium from vessel to vessel all while monitoring temperature and monitoring\controlling the pH level within +/- 0.1 pH. Independently selectable stirring control (for each vessel) is also part of this instrumentation. Special considerations were designed for to handle power outages along with remotely monitoring to allow for uninterrupted experiments given their long experiment time. All of this was accomplished thru advanced real-time LabVIEW programming, interface electronics, and custom machining of mechanical components; all for a fraction of the cost of a commercial system.

Commercial cost for comparable system range between $60,000 to $160,000.

Cost to researcher: $15982.34

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