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Lateral Flow Diagnostic for Sickle Cell Disease

Primary Investigators:
Christina Marasco
 
Brief Description of Project:
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the world's most prevalent genetic disorder affecting people in both resource-limited regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, and developed countries, such as the United States. Early diagnosis and management of the condition are necessary for reducing the effects of SCD and improving quality of life. Current laboratory diagnostic technologies remain unsuitable for addressing this need as they rely on expensive capital equipment and skilled operators. These issues create a barrier to diagnosis in low-resource regions most severely afflicted by SCD, but also contribute to the high financial costs of managing the disorder (over $1.1 billion in the US alone). Novel testing methods implementing point-of-care diagnostic devices are needed to rapidly screen and manage patients with SCD in low-resource, clinical, and home care settings. Initial work has shown a reliable, paper-based screening tool for less than $0.50, but further testing must be performed to validate the use of this device and assay for clinical and home care settings.

Desired Qualifications: 
Basic chemistry and biology skills
Basic data analysis and statistics
Design and prototyping of medical devices (or desire to learn)
Desire to improve medical care both in the US and low-resource settings
Independent and self-motivated
An entrepreneurial interest 

Nature of Supervision:
The student will work under the guidance of Dr. Marasco and a post-doctoral fellow in the lab. The student will be trained in all aspects of the project and regular guidance will be provided. We like to see the student become confident and take ownership of the project.
 
A Brief Research Plan (period is for 10 weeks):
Prior to starting - familiarize yourself with the current status of the project and meet with the PI and post-doc for initial training
Week 1 - Refine and select additional factors to evaluate diagnostic, complete safety training and necessary compliance steps to test human samples
Week 2 - Run a few control material samples to learn the assay, imaging methods, and data analysis tools
Week 3-7 – Calibrate the reader and Run all available samples
Week 8-10 - Run additional samples to test and validate; finalize data analysis 

Number of Open Slots: 1
 
Contact Information:
Name: Christina Marasco
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Email: c.marasco@vanderbilt.edu