Features

One Small Step for DNA Sequencing

Posted on | July 6, 2011 | No Comments

DNA Sequencing

Gregory L. Timp

  • Gregory L. Timp
    Keough-Hesburgh Professor
    Electrical Engineering and Biological Sciences

Since Watson and Crick first discovered the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), researchers have been building on their findings to try to unlock the mysteries of life. The Sanger method of DNA sequencing, which provided the first draft of the human genome, also transformed genetics and biology, but it is now being replaced by next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies that deliver faster and more accurate genomic information. The challenge with NGS comes from the enormous volume of data produced — in some cases more than one billion short reads per instrument per day. Taking NGS one step further, a Notre Dame-led team has developed a revolutionary concept that can sequence one molecule of DNA using a single nanopore. In short, the team is offering a giant leap in sequencing sensitivity that provides equally reliable outcomes but with a smaller price tag and a smaller sample size. >Read more

Detecting and Deciphering the Telltale Signs of Biomarkers

Posted on | July 5, 2011 | No Comments

Screening Biomarkers

Paul W. Bohn

  • Paul W. Bohn
    Arthur J. Schmitt Professor
    Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

In Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-tale Heart” the killer confesses because he believes the police officers visiting him can hear the beating of his victim’s heart, indicating that a crime had been committed. A fictional work, the concept of the human body sending signals has its roots in reality. All biological systems have “telltale” signs, biochemical signatures that when detected and correctly interpreted provide enormous insight into the state of an organism. It is these biomarkers — through the development of a nanoscale biofluidic transportation system — that a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame and Purdue University is working to better understand. >Read more

Perfecting Portable Microfluidic Diagnostic Devices

Posted on | August 4, 2011 | No Comments

Handheld Biosensors

Hsueh-Chia Chang

  • Hsueh-Chia Chang
    Bayer Corporation Professor
    Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Much smaller now than when they were first introduced, today’s cell phones can call anyone, anywhere in the world. They can also check the weather, plan a menu, identify a bird, create a custom workout program, read the Wall Street Journal, and confirm a flight departure time. Medical laboratories, at least the work that has traditionally been conducted in them, have also shrunk dramatically in size in the last two decades … so that they too can fit in one hand. Most people are familiar with the personal glucose monitors used by diabetics; in a matter of seconds they can measure blood sugar levels. Imagine that same concept applied to miniature diagnostic kits in order to detect a range of diseases, pathogens, or physiological markers. Faculty at the University of Notre Dame have done more than imagine; they are developing microfluidic technology for use in a handheld biosensor that can identify different diseases and toxic substances on-site and in real time. >Read more

The Effects of Microdamage and Aging on Loadbearing Bone

Posted on | August 4, 2011 | No Comments

Osteoporotic Triggers

Glen L. Niebur

  • Glen L. Niebur
    Roth-Gibson Associate Professor
    Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Some of nature’s strongest structures can also be the most fragile. Consider the egg; it cannot be broken from its domed ends but cracks easily on its side. Bone, particularly loadbearing bone, is similar in that it can become more directionally dependent and susceptible to microcracks in its structure as it ages. This microdamage affects its mechanical abilities and has been linked to osteoporosis. Notre Dame faculty are studying the causes of microdamage, its relationship to osteoporosis, and its effect on the mechanical properties of bone, the results of which will be applied to the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis, prosthesis loosening, the development of artificial bone substitutes, and the design of drugs to combat bone disease. >Read more

Smarter Bonds for Smarter Chemotherapy

Posted on | August 4, 2011 | No Comments

Targeted Chemotherapeutics

Z. Basar Bilgicer

  • Z. Basar Bilgicer
    Assistant Professor
    Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Millions of people around the world are either living with cancer or have a loved one who is living with cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly half of all of the men and approximately one-third of all of the women in the United States will develop cancer. One of the most effective measures in treating the disease, depending upon the type of cancer involved, is chemotherapy. Yet, anyone who has gone through “chemo” or watched a loved one go through it knows the side effects all too well. Because in addition to killing diseased cells, chemotherapy destroys healthy ones. Researchers in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics initiative at Notre Dame are working to redesign already effective drugs to make them more selective in seeking and eliminating cancerous cells while bypassing healthy ones. >Read more

Working on a Different Wavelength

Posted on | August 4, 2011 | No Comments

Terahertz Frequency Imaging

Terahertz Imaging System Team

  • Terahertz Imaging System Team
    From left to right: Kirk Reinbold, associate director of the Advanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics initiative at Notre Dame; Lei Liu, research assistant professor of electrical engineering; Emily Yunshan Wang and Berardi Sensale-Rodriguez, graduate students; and Huili (Grace) Xing, the Rev. John Cardinal O’Hara, C.S.C., Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering. Not pictured are Paul W. Bohn, the Arthur J. Schmitt Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Hsueh-Chia Chang, the Bayer Corporation Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Patrick Fay, professor of electrical engineering; Debdeep Jena, associate professor of electrical engineering; and Chrislyn D’Souza-Schorey, associate professor of biological sciences.

Within 10 years of Wilhelm Röntgen’s 1895 discovery of a new form of electromagnetic radiation, hospitals around the world were using X-rays to help diagnose and treat patients. The first X-ray tubes, however, were very low power and required long exposure times to the radiation — several minutes — to produce an image. Imaging technologies have evolved considerably since then and are now, according to Notre Dame researchers, on the brink of a new generation of devices and systems that would employ electromagnetic waves in the terahertz frequency, making them safer than traditional X-rays while providing more accurate images. >Read more

Single-minded Dedication, Singular Result

Posted on | August 4, 2011 | No Comments

Calculating Radiation Schemes

Danny Z. Chen

  • Danny Z. Chen
    Professor
    Computer Science and Engineering

No one is surprised when Olympic athletes push beyond what they thought their limits were to run faster, throw farther, and perform at a much higher level than they have ever done. It is considered a natural outcome of their hard work, in many cases years of commitment, to capture a gold medal. Society doesn’t always use the same thought processes in regard to researchers. Instead, people expect a “eureka” moment. The truth is that first-generation technologies are often the fruit of years of work conducted by dedicated researchers. The same is true for second- and third-generation technologies. Proving that point, the same researchers who helped develop the latest generation of intensity-modulated radiation therapy have now introduced a new medical treatment technology that can deliver a prescribed radiation dosage using a single pass. This new technique provides equally effective treatment with much less potential damage to healthy tissue in half of the time. >Read more