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iOptics Seminar: Brian T. Cunningham

Event Type
iOptics at Illinois and the Center for Label-free Imaging and Multi-scale Biophotonics
Beckman Institute Room 3269 (3rd Floor Tower Room)
Aug 31, 2023   11:00 am  
Brian T. Cunningham, Intel Alumni Endowed Chair, Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Bioengineering, Holonyak Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, The Grainger College of Engineering, University of Illinois Urban Champaign.
Alexander Ho

Title: “Ultrasensitive and Ultraselective Liquid Biopsy: Nanophotonics-Driven Digital Resolution Biomolecule Sensing Combined with Target Molecule Recycling.”

By combining biosensor microscopy that provides high contrast for detecting individual biomolecules with novel biochemistry methods that can effectively turn each target molecule into many digitally counted sensing events, it is possible to achieve attomolar-scale limits of detection for disease-specific nucleic acid target molecules (miRNA and cfDNA) while simultaneously obtaining thousands-to-one selectivity against single base variants. The presentation will describe the use of photonic metamaterials and associated detection instruments to amplify optical absorption and fluorescence emission. The biodetection technology platforms are used to perform assays using nucleic acid strand displacement reactions and CRISPR/Cas chemistry to sense target biomarkers from complex media. The “amplify-then-digitize” approach represents a new and powerful paradigm for molecular diagnostics, compared to the “digitize-then-amplify” approach utilized in methods such as droplet digital PCR (ddPCR). Overall, Dr. Cunningham’s team seeks simple, rapid, room temperature, single-step assay methods that can operate with small, inexpensive, and robust detection systems for applications in point of care diagnostics, laboratory-based diagnostics, and life science research applications. While his team has focused their efforts upon detection of protein and nucleic acid biomarkers for cancer and infectious disease, they are eager to explore applications in neuroscience and neurological disease diagnostics.

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