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Confirmed Speakers

Low-Cost Portable UV-C Systems

Andrea M. Armani

Irani Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science,
University of Southern California, USA

Academic researchers typically focus efforts on grand challenges that are five to ten years from having an impact on society. However, in the face of a global pandemic, members of academia and industry came together to quickly solve shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) and in life-saving medical instrumentation. One example is in the area of disinfection methods. Previous research had shown the effectiveness of UV-C as a disinfection method for a range of bacteria and viruses, including coronaviruses. As such, due to its universal-nature, the use of UV-C in a healthcare setting began to increase in 2018 due to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, but the approach became more well-known during the current COVID-19 pandemic. This presentation will discuss a recently developed, constructed, and validated portable UV-C disinfection system built from readily accessible components. In addition, recent results from a semi-autonomous UV-C system may be discussed.

Andrea Armani received her BA in physics from the University of Chicago and her PhD in applied physics with a minor in biology from the California Institute of Technology. She is currently the Ray Irani Chair of Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Southern California. She is the Director of the two USC nanofabrication cleanrooms: W. M. Keck Photonics Cleanroom and John D. O’Brien Nanofabrication Laboratory. She is on the Editorial Board of ACS Photonics and APL Photonics, Feature Editor of Optics Letters, member of Sigma Xi and NAI, a senior member of IEEE and AIChE, and a Fellow of OSA and SPIE. She has received several awards, including the ONR Young Investigator Award, the PECASE, and the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. In addition, her dedication to mentoring has been recognized with the USC Mellon Mentoring Award for Undergraduate Mentoring and the Hanna Reisler Award for Mentoring.

SARS-CoV-2 RapidPlex: A Graphene-based Multiplexed Telemedicine Platform for Rapid COVID-19 Diagnosis

Wei Gao

Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering,
California Institute of Technology, USA

The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global challenge for public health systems. Ultrasensitive and early identification of infection is critical in preventing widespread COVID-19 infection by presymptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, especially in the community and in-home settings. We demonstrate a multiplexed, portable, wireless electrochemical platform for ultra-rapid detection of COVID-19: the SARS-CoV-2 RapidPlex. It detects viral antigen nucleocapsid protein, IgM and IgG antibodies, as well as the inflammatory biomarker C-reactive protein, based on our mass-producible laser-engraved graphene electrodes. We demonstrate ultrasensitive, highly selective, and rapid electrochemical detection in the physiologically relevant ranges. We successfully evaluated the applicability of our SARS-CoV-2 RapidPlex platform with COVID-19-positive and COVID-19-negative blood and saliva samples. Based on this pilot study, our multiplexed immunosensor platform may allow for high-frequency at-home testing for COVID-19 telemedicine diagnosis and monitoring.

Wei Gao is an Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering in Division of Engineering and Applied Science at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at University of California, San Diego in 2014 as a Jacobs Fellow and HHMI International Student Research Fellow. In 2014-2017, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a recipient of IEEE EMBS Early Career Achievement Award, IEEE Sensor Council Technical Achievement Award, Sensors Young Investigator Award, MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35 (TR35) and ACS Young Investigator Award (Division of Inorganic Chemistry). He is a World Economic Forum Young Scientist (Class of 2020) and a member of Global Young Academy (Class of 2019). His research interests include wearable devices, biosensors, flexible electronics, digital medicine, micro/nanorobotics, and nanomedicine.

An overview of COVID-19 and Photonics

Jana M. Kainerstorfer

Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering,
Carnegie Mellon University, USA

This presentation will summarize recent advances and applications of photonic devices related to COVID-19.

Jana Kainerstorfer is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and holds courtesy appointments in the Neuroscience Institute and Electrical & Computer Engineering. She earned a PhD in Physics from the University of Vienna in Austria in partnership with the National Institutes of Health and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts University. Her lab’s research is focused on developing noninvasive optical imaging methods for disease detection and/or treatment monitoring, with an emphasis on diffuse optical imaging. She serves on program committees at national and international conferences (including the SPIE Photonics West as well as OSA Topical Meetings) and served as Program Chair for the OSA Biophotonics Congress: Optical Tomography and Spectroscopy in 2020. She further is an associate editor for Journal of Biomedical Optics (SPIE), served as associated editor for IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, as a guest editor for Opportunities in Neurophotonics in APL Photonics, and as editor for the Virtual Journal of Biomedical Optics (a journal of the Optical Society of America). She served on the APL Photonics Early Career Editorial Advisory Board and got elected as a senior member of the Optical Society of America.

Optical biosensors for analyzing the human response to COVID-19 and other upper respiratory infections

Benjamin L. Miller

Dean’s Professor of Dermatology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, and Optics,
University of Rochester, USA

The urgent need for antibody detection tools has proven particularly acute in the COVID-19 era. While most clinical diagnostics have focused on detection of antibodies to single antigens, mulplex (multi-analyte) tools are particularly useful for assessing broader patterns of antigen-specific responses, as well as providing information on SARS-CoV-2 immunity in the context of pre-existing immunity to other viruses. To that end, this talk will describe the development of two sensor platforms for quantifying antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and other upper respiratory pathogens. The first, Arrayed Imaging Reflectometry (AIR), uses a label-free microarray for detection of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1, MERS, three circulating coronavirus strains (HKU1, 229E, OC43) and several strains of influenza. In the second method, our group and collaborators working through AIM Photonics are developing a simple and rapid integrated photonic sensor for anti-coronavirus and other antibodies.

Prof. Benjamin L. Miller completed his undergraduate studies at Miami University (Ohio), receiving degrees in Chemistry (B.S.), Mathematics (A.B.), and German (A.B.) in 1988. He next moved to Stanford University, where he carried out his Ph. D. research in Chemistry under the direction of Paul Wender. Following a stint as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Harvard in Stuart Schreiber’s laboratory, he joined the University of Rochester faculty in 1996, where he is currently Dean’s Professor of Dermatology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, and Optics. His group’s expertise in molecular recognition, combinatorial chemistry, nanotechnology, and optical sensing has been applied to the development of novel optical biosensor platforms, and synthetic compounds targeting RNAs involved in several human diseases. Miller is a founder of Adarza BioSystems, Inc., a multiplex optical biodetection company located in St. Louis, MO. He is also the Academic Lead for Integrated Photonic Sensors in AIM Photonics.

Massively multiplexed viral nucleic acid detection with CARMEN-Cas13

Cameron Myhrvold

Postdoctoral Fellow, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, USA
Transitioning to Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology,
Princeton University in January 2021

Inexpensive, scalable technologies for pathogen detection and surveillance are crucial to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we introduce Combinatorial Arrayed Reactions for Multiplexed Evaluation of Nucleic acids (CARMEN), a technology that enables parallelized CRISPR-Cas13 detection with up to 5,000 crRNA-target pairs tested in a single assay. CARMEN increases multiplexing and throughput while simultaneously decreasing the reagent cost per test by >300-fold. Using CARMEN-Cas13, we designed and extensively tested a 169-plex assay that simultaneously differentiates all human-associated viruses with ≥10 available genome sequences. CARMEN-Cas13 also enables comprehensive subtyping of influenza A strains and multiplexed identification of dozens of HIV drug-resistance mutations. More recently, we have developed a CARMEN respiratory virus panel (RVP) for the differential diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses. The CARMEN RVP and other such panels can catalyze the rapid molecular diagnosis and characterization of wide-ranging pathogens, greatly benefiting patients and public health.

Cameron Myhrvold is a postdoctoral fellow in the Sabeti Lab. He is developing Cas13-based technologies for viral detection and destruction. In 2016, Cameron completed a PhD in Systems Biology PhD at Harvard University, jointly advised by Pamela Silver and Peng Yin, working at the interface of synthetic biology and nucleic acid nanotechnology. In 2011, Cameron received an A.B. from Princeton University, majoring in molecular biology with a certificate in quantitative and computational biology. Cameron was awarded a Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Fellowship to support his graduate studies, and was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for 2019. In January 2021, Cameron will be joining the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University as an Assistant Professor.

Virus Counter: Rapid and sensitive diagnostics based on digital detection of individual pathogens

M. Selim Ünlü

Professor (ECE, MSE, BME), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Boston University, USA

The response of modern infectious disease diagnostics to the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 has exposed the challenges in viral disease diagnostics. PCR-based diagnostic systems for SARS-CoV-2 are in overwhelming demand resulting in a widespread lack of accessibility to testing similar to the 2009 flu pandemic and 2014 Ebola outbreak. Efforts to solve supply-line issues for PCR will not solve the disadvantages for the method including tedious sample preparation and time consumption. Lateral flow assays (LFAs) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) are also potential solutions for viral diagnostics, however, their limited sensitivity at low viral titers hinders the early stage diagnostic capabilities of the techniques. Considering the shortcomings of the current point of care (POC) tools, diagnostic testing for 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is desperately in need of a development of a sensitive high-throughput POC platform. Single-particle interferometric reflectance imaging sensor (SP-IRIS) technique relies on different supply lines for testing, ensuring the response resilience. SP-IRIS offers optical visualization and characterization of individual nanoparticles without any labels. The already established viral enumeration system has shown the ability to detect viruses such as Ebola and Marburg viruses. Here, we discuss how this platform will be modified with a functionalized assay for SARS-CoV-2. Adapting this sensing technique for compatibility with microwell plates will allow for an automated detection biosensor for viral particles in a high-throughput platform.

Professor M. Selim Ünlü is a Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Boston University. His research interests are in nanophotonics and biophotonics focusing development of biological detection and imaging techniques, particularly in high-throughput digital biosensors based on detection of individual nanoparticles and viruses. Dr. Ünlü was the recipient of the NSF CAREER and ONR Young Investigator Awards in 1996. He has been selected as a Photonics Society Distinguished Lecturer for 2005-2007 and Australian Research Council Nanotechnology Network (ARCNN) Distinguished Lecturer for 2007. He has been elevated to IEEE Fellow rank in 2007 for his “contributions to optoelectronic devices” and OSA Fellow rank in 2017 for his “for pioneering contributions in utilization of optical interference in enhanced photodetectors and biological sensing and imaging.” In 2008, he was awarded the Science Award by the Turkish Scientific Foundation. His past professional service includes serving as the Editor-in-Chief for IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics.

Mango Fluorogenic Aptamers and RNA Imaging Strategies

Peter J. Unrau

Professor, Department of Molecular Biology and Molecular Biology,
Simon Fraser University, Canada
Co-Authors: Amir Abdolahzadeh, Lena Dolgosheina, Kristen Kong, Sunny Jeng, Shyam Panchapakesan, Adam Cawte, Haruk Iino, David Rueda

RNA is essential for life but is still difficult to study owing to a lack of RNA imaging tools. Recently, we have evolved small (< 30 nt) RNA Mango fluorogenic aptamers that bind to a set of thiazole orange derivatives with high affinity (nM). Once bound to a Mango aptamer, these fluorogenic ligands become thousands of times more fluorescent and can exceed the brightness of enhanced GFP. These aptamers have several unexpected properties: Upon photobleaching, the aptamers can undergo fluorophore exchange giving them a practically unlimited imaging lifetime, and several are highly resistant to formaldehyde. To complement our Mango aptamer studies, we have developed a new class of fluorogenic aptamers, called “Peach” that offer the potential for dual colour imaging. I will discuss how the Mango and Peach aptamers simplify RNA imaging tasks and explain how we are currently using these aptamers for rapid COVID-19 detection in human saliva samples.

Peter Unrau’s education includes a B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics from McMaster University (1992) and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from MIT (1996). Following his graduation from MIT, Peter became interested in the emerging field of RNA catalysis and decided to join David Bartel’s laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. His work there, which includes isolating the first RNA nucleotide synthase ribozyme, has been cited numerous times in the literature as a highly significant contribution to the RNA catalysis and aptamer fields.