Prof. Eric Henderson was awarded a $100,000 grant from The Discovery Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for his research project titled, “DNA Nanodevice for Pathogen Detection.” For this research project, Dr. Henderson will use DNA as a building material to create an inexpensive and robust biomolecular nanodevice for molecular detection and measurement. In Phase I of the research, Dr. Henderson’s research team will create a self-assembling DNA-based biomechanical nanodevice with a moving platform. Motion in the platform will be induced by the presence of specific nucleic acid sequences in a test sample. This motion will be detected by a fluorescence energy resonance transfer (FRET) system embedded in the DNA nanodevice. Phase II will include expansion and refinement of the system developed in Phase I so that it will respond to many of the pathogens of interest to the Foundation. A portable FRET detector will be implemented to ensure that the entire platform is field deployable and real world robust.
This grant is part of the Grand Challenges Explorations initiative. Grand Challenges Explorations fosters creative projects that show great promise to improve the health of people in the developing world.