The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience awards the Suddath Symposium graduate student awards to three students for their grand achievements in biological or biochemical research at the molecular or cellular level. The first place awardee presents their work to the Petit Institute community during the annual Suddath Symposium.
"Biosensor Development for Field-deployable Diagnostic Assays"
2019 Suddath Award Winner
Monica McNerney, Doctoral Candidate
Georgia Institute of Technology
Mark Styczynski, Ph.D. - Advisor
Almost all current tests for biomarkers require venous blood draws, extensive sample processing, and analysis with complex equipment. Inexpensive, easy-to-use tests are critical for expanding healthcare to under-developed regions, but the requirement for reliable quantification in complex sample types (like blood) has been a critical roadblock in developing such diagnostics. I will present the development of an inexpensive, “field-friendly” diagnostic platform that uses cell-free expression systems to generate colored readouts that are visible to the naked eye, yet quantitative and robust to the interference effects seen in complex samples. Using this platform, I created a nearly field-deployable test for zinc deficiency (which is estimated to kill over 100,000 children annually) that accurately measures clinically relevant zinc concentrations. The test requires just a finger-prick of blood, is robust to temperature variation, and can be freeze-dried for long term storage. We have also used this approach to measure other classes of biomarkers, demonstrating a generalizable platform for low-cost quantitative diagnostics.
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