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Pathogen Detection in Low Resource Settings

Primary Investigators:
Rick Haselton
Brief Description of Project:
A major stumbling block to low resource and/or home diagnostics is simplicity of design.  Complex designs drive up the cost of manufacturing and fail to perform properly in the hands of those unskilled in the principals of operation of the device.  The goal of this project is to further develop and test a simple diagnostic design which is inexpensive to manufacture, is simple to operate and can be readily interpreted by the unskilled end-user in a low resource environment. 

We are particularly interested in developing designs which do not require instrumentation to interpret the test results.  Some sort of visible outcome would appear to be ideal.  One promising design is based on the unique radial flow present in an evaporating water drop.  As noted by Deegan (Nature 97) the radial flow produces a characteristic “coffee ring” stain of small particles (coffee bean particulates!) readily visible by eye.  We are developing and testing a detector based on modulation of this simple phenomenon.  In our design, the presence of a pathogen in a small drop of fluid triggers a visible change in the ring structure at the edge of a drop dried on a glass surface. 

Nature of Supervision:
Work with a research group consisting of Rick Haselton, Megan Pask and graduate students.
A Brief Research Plan (period is for 10 weeks):
(period is for 10 weeks): Our preliminary results suggest that this design works well. In the summer, we plan to focus on some of the following questions: What is the limit of detection of this design? Is the design sensitive enough to detect the expected number of targets?  What sort of glass surface is best?  Does the design work over a range of humidities and temperatures? Are the built-in controls adequate to assure correct assay interpretation? Will the design also work for other applications? What is the best particle design?  Can the reagents be incorporated into a slide coating or is a separate solution required?
Number of Open Slots: 1
Contact Information:
Name: Rick Haselton
Department: Biomedical Engineering