Umer Hassan receives NSF grant for biosensor to quantify the human blood cell’s ability to kill pathogens

ECE Assistant Professor Umer Hassan is the recipient of an award from National Science Foundation (NSF) for the project “An Electronic-Sensing & Magnetic-Modulation (ESMM) Biosensor for Phagocytosis Quantification for Personalized Stratification in Pathogenic Infections”. This is a three-year project awarded at $360,000.

The project will enable the development of a next generation in-vitro diagnostic platform equipped with Electronic-Sensing & Magnetic-Modulation (ESMM) modules integrated in a microfluidic chip to quantify the human blood cells ability to kill pathogens. The heterogeneity of the immune system activation in response to pathogenic infections is critical to strategize the correct clinical response to treat patients. Quantifying blood cells natural ability to kill pathogens i.e., phagocytosis is critical to demonstrate the effectiveness of an individual’s response in combating pathogens. This project aims to develop a novel personalized biosensor capable of quantifying the phagocytic ability to kill the pathogens. The biosensor is equipped with microfluidics, microelectrodes for electronic sensing, and quadrupole magnetic configuration to modulate the blood cells behavior on-chip. Blood cells will interact with antibody conjugated magnetic particles and will perform phagocytosis on-chip. Furthermore, the proposed biosensor will be equipped with real-time data analysis using machine learning to improve the sensor performance. The proposed sensor will enable stratification of immune response of infected patients requiring only a drop of whole blood with a rapid time to result (TOR). Sensors will be benchmarked with patient clinical samples. Sensor will have the capability to be used at the point-of-care at multiple health-care settings. More details on the project can be found at the NSF page here.

Congratulations Umer!