The objective of the Biodetection Core is to provide and develop practical and effective systems for detecting various biological agents in support of Region IX RCE's overall efforts in biodefense and infectious disease. Current diagnostic tools for detecting infectious agents rely heavily on serum antibody expression, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and/or culture. Although reliable, these methods all require substantial time, extensive human involvements, laboratory-based equipment, and relatively high pathogen loads. The significance of such limitations is clearly illustrated by the initial efforts to detect the delivery of anthrax-laced letters in September, 2001 in Florida and Washington, D.C and identify and quarantine patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China in 2003. In countering bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases effectively, we believe that one of the major challenges is rapid and reliable detection of the nature and breadth of an infectious event. To meet this challenge, we will create the Biodetection Core in the Region IX RCE. The Caltech portion of the effort will have two principal areas of focus: - Professor Y.-C. Tai will develop micro/nanofluidics-based mass spectrometry biosensors. Immunology, mass spectrometry (MS) and micro/nanofluidics techniques will be integrated to facilitate both the discovery of pathogen protein antigens and the assay for their presence in biological fluids. The goals of this aim are to provide portable sensitive MS-based equipments for early pathogen detection. - Professors Fraser and Roukes wilt focus upon nanoelectromechanical biosensors (BioNEMS). These are label-free microfluidics-embedded nanoelectromechanical biosensing devices that can detect individual pathogens. In this program they will be refined to achieve single-molecule sensitivity for genomic and proteomic array profiling of pathogens.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1)
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University of California Irvine
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