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Welcome to the BMB Lab

The Bioanalytical Microsystems and Biosensors Laboratory (BMB) focuses on developing biosensors and micro-Total Analysis Systems (µTAS) that can be employed to ameliorate the situation of pathogenic organism and toxin detection in our food and drinking water supply, the environment, as well as their analysis related to medical diagnostics and biological warfare agents. Basic and applied research are intertwined, as are biochemistry and molecular biology with engineering. For example, we investigate the hydrodynamics of mixing of biological fluids in microsystems and calculate their flow patterns in channels of different dimensions and shapes. Then, we apply this knowledge to the design of an RNA isolation and purification chamber as a module of a simple µTAS. In addition, this is combined with the investigation of new fabrication strategies in order to enable a rapid prototyping and simple manufacturing of future devices.

Our biosensor and our microfluidic system, are cutting edge devices that exhibit extremely high sensitivity, very high specificity and, ultimately, simplicity of use. Overlooked in the mainstream bioanalytical sensor research is the need for real-world application of the sensing systems. This is in part due to the extreme variability of sample matrices (ranging from hamburger meat to apple cider, from surface water to manure, from whole blood to saliva) and the difficulty in specifically identifying cells and proteins within these matrices. Microfluidic and fiber-based sample preparation modules are therefore part of our research efforts.

Addressing real-world challenges such as combating HIV/AIDS in resource-limited countries, providing tools for ensuring safe water and food, developing diagnostic tools for rapid and inexpensive testing are driving forces of our research. For example, biosensors we developed are capable of detecting Cryptosporidium parvum at a level of only 1 organism per sample, E. coli at 40 organisms/ml and Dengue virus at 10 pfu/ml.

Microfluidics

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Using fabrication techniques originally developed for microelectronics, networks of fluidic channels can be created. We employ this technology to produce small-scale devices for detection of pathogens and other analytes of interest. Our fabrication technologies include photolithography, soft lithography and nanoimprinting technology.

Lateral Flow Technology

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Using a strip of porous membrane material as a platform, we can employ our liposome technology in the detection of target analytes in a lateral flow assay format. This format lends itself for inexpensive, rapid and extremely simple to use devices for point of care diagnostics, resource-limited settings and alike. Employing liposomes in this format allows for the visual detection of as little as 1 fmol of RNA.

Microtiter Plate Assays

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Microtiter plates have become a standard assay platform in many labs, with plate readers becoming increasingly less expensive. We have investigated the adaptation of our lipsome-based signal amplification technology in this format and studied their use for multiplexing and cell-based assays.

Liposomes

liposome

Fluorescent image of a liposome with a fluorophore-labeled phospholipid incorporated in the bilayer.

Liposomes have been developed in our research group as bioanalytical tools for signal generation and instantaneous signal amplification based on early work in Dr. Richard Durst's group. Over the last five years, we have established protocols that allow for reliable liposome synthesis and for physical, chemical and biological characterization. Comparing liposomes to other signal generation and amplification means, such as enzymes, quantum dots, gold nano-particles, and fluorescence molecules, has demonstrated their superior performance for bioanalytical sensors. We also study liposome stability under extreme conditions including dehydration, lyophilization, and storage at temperatures above 40oC, in blood, urine and other matrices. We have studied liposomes for nucleic acid, protein, and whole cell detection, investigating also the use of liposomes for bioimaging and for multiplexing.

Funding Sources

The CD4 Initiative:

Imperial College London The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

DARPA NIH NYSTAR NSF USDAGerman Science Foundation (DFG)Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Innovative Biotechnologies International, Inc (Grand Island, NY)EPARehonix, Inc. (Ithaca, NY)NIBIB