Hossein Tavana has developed robotically operated, high throughput microtechnologies to expedite compound screening against breast cancer cells. These technologies enable identifying compounds that block the growth and compromise the viability of cancer cells in 3D tumor spheroid models, and inhibit the migration of metastatic breast cancer cells. He was selected as one of Top 20 Young Investigator Frontiers in Bioengineering in 2013 and as a Young Innovator in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering in 2014. He has published fi ve book chapters, over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles, and fi led fi ve US patents. His research is funded by NIH and NSF.


Metastatic triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive malignancy that comprises 15-20% of breast cancers in the US but claims disproportionately high patient mortality. Migration of cells is an essential process toward metastatic progression of the disease; however, existing chemotherapeutic compounds do not eff ectively inhibit cell migration. We explored the potency of a series of natural compounds, phytochemicals, to block the motility of TNBC cells. We used a novel, high throughput cell migration assay technology to robotically generate a migration niche of well-defi ned size within each well of standard microwell plates. Th is approach enabled screening a collection of phytochemicals, each compound at a wide range of sub-lethal concentrations, on the migration of two metastatic TNBC cells. Our screening showed that phytochemicals can eff ectively interfere with deregulated cell motility. Specially, fi setin and quercetin potently blocked migration of both MDAMB- 231 and MDA-MB-157 TNBC cells. Our results suggested that the anti-migratory property of these compounds is in pat due to the scavanging of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and interference with MAPK signaling pathway.