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Bioanalysis: cheap, simple, medically relevant, and universally available: Prof George M Whitesides

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Diagnosis of disease starts with observation and measurement. Biomedical analyses intended to aid diagnosis are important in determining treatment; they are also important in determining the cost of treatment (for better or worse), or of measures in public health. When diagnostics developed for use in the developed world are transferred into resource-limited environments, cost and simplicity of use are often critically important in allowing or denying their use to patients.

We are exploring bioanalytical methods that combine biomedical utility, affordability, and simplicity.  The core technology uses paper patterned into hydrophobic and hydrophilic regions, to achieve control of microfluidic flows similar to (or in some cases superior to those generated in) open-channel microfluidic systems. We also use other techniques—for example,  electrochemistry, a technique with the advantage of easy connectivity to the web—for specific applications.

In this talk I will describe some of our progress in science and technology.  I will also discuss a broader issue:  viz., how to develop biomedical technologies whose objectives include cost and usability, and which are intended for both capitalist and socialist applications, starting with ideas in a research university.

Speaker biography

George M Whitesides received an AB degree from Harvard University in 1960 and a PhD from the California Institute of Technology (with JD Roberts) in 1964. He was a member of the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1963 to 1982. He joined the Department of Chemistry of Harvard University in 1982, and was Department Chairman 1986-89, and Mallinckrodt Professor of Chemistry from 1982-2004. He is now the Woodford L and Ann A Flowers University Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

Memberships and Fellowships:  Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, American Philosophical Society; Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, New York Academy of Sciences, World Technology Network, and American Chemical Society; Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Science; Honorary Member of the Materials Research Society of India; Honorary Fellow of the Chemical Research Society of India, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Royal Society of Chemistry (UK); Foreign Associate of the French Academy of Sciences; Honorary Professor, Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), India.

Present research activities include: physical and organic chemistry, materials science, biophysics, water in biology, surface science, microfluidics, self-assembly, micro- and nanotechnology, science for developing economies, the origin of life, rational drug design, magnetic levitation, dissipative systems and emergence, complexity, and simplicity.



Lecture Theatre G16, Sir Alexander Fleming Building
South Kensington Campus, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2AZ United Kingdom
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