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Nanoscale Beta-Lactamase Sensor

Primary Investigators:
Todd D. Giorgio, PhD 
Charleson Bell, PhD

Brief Description of Project:
Our lab is interested in developing a sensor of beta-lactamase activity that can be carried out by unaided visual observation.  The eventual application is instrument-free sensing of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  We have designed a sensor based on gold nanoparticles that are cross-linked by a beta-lactamase cleavable bridge.  We anticipate that, in the presence of beta-lactamase activity, microscale aggregates will be dispersed into nanoscale objects, producing a color change observable by eye under white light over a range of normal intensities.  The project involves the manipulation of bacterial cultures and the organic synthetic chemistry of the beta-lactamase/gold nanoparticle sensor.  Performance testing will be carried out using optical instrumentation and by photography.

Desired Qualifications:
Highly motivated students interested in research that involves aspects of organic chemistry, microbiology, and nanoscale optical sensing. A background in chemistry is highly recommended. Previous knowledge/experience with microbiology methods is also desired, but not required.
 
Nature of Supervision:
The undergraduate researcher will have the opportunity to meet at least once per week with the PI to discuss progress and next steps. Hands-on lab training and support will be provided by a research assistant professor who will serve as the mentor and primary point of contact.
 
A Brief Research Plan (period is for 10 weeks):
Phase 1 involves the fundamental laboratory skills associated with microbiology methods and beta-lactamase detection using a commercial kit based on optical sensing.  Phase 2 involves the design and synthesis of a sensor based on gold nanoparticles and a beta-lactamase cleavable target.  Phase 3 involves quantitative assessment of beta-lactamase sensing using the novel nanoscale construct.
 
Number of Open Slots: 1
 
Contact Information:
Name: Todd Giorgio
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Email: todd.d.giorgio@vanderbilt.edu