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Space Technology Research Grants

Microfluidic Label-Free Sensing for Rapid Multiplexed Pathogen Detection in Space Missions

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

For the success of most space programs involving environmental control and waste water management, the rapid detection and identification of pathogens under resource limitations is essential. From the basic scientific research standpoint, the capability to monitor and detect microbial responses to microgravity and other low-shear environments in situ would significantly advance the present state of knowledge. Current cell culture or molecular biology based methods are time and labor-consuming, vulnerable to contamination, demand laboratory equipment, and require sophisticated manual preparation such as lysing, staining or labeling. To overcome these barriers, the PI proposes an integrated microfluidic sensor combining automated sample handling and label-free detection via molecular and plasmonic imaging that acquires molecular fingerprints from the whole organism, surface biomarkers and intra-organism biomarkers, thus achieving multiscale ‚Äúcompartmentalization‚ÄĚ. The PI will actively collaborate with a group of microbiologists at NASA and other institutions to study microbial and viral responses to microgravity, high-energy radiation, genetic alteration, and emerging carbon materials such as nanotubes and grapheme. More »

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