Supported by a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Michael Goryll is advancing fundamental research that could have significant impacts on disease diagnostics.

Goryll, assistant professor, School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, is recreating the functionality of a natural ion channel using a solid-state nanopore. Goryll is working to create a more robust, versatile solution using electrostatically controllable solid-state nanopores.

One aspect of his research is gaining a better understanding of how natural channels allow some ions and molecules to pass through the channel, but not others. That knowledge is used to reproduce electric field geometries that repel or attract molecules in a similar way to natural channels.

The use of engineered nanopores as biosensing elements is a rapidly developing area. The sensors can be used for a wide range of applications from testing water quality, to disease diagnostics.

Goryll cites drug discovery as an area of particular interest. For example, several drugs have been pulled from the market, or denied regulatory approval due to potentially life threatening reactions including clinical arrhythmia. Preclinical testing for these interactions can only be done by ion channel research.

Goryll and students in his lab have already made advances in ion channel research, including development of an acrylic cup array that allows parallel measurement of four channels at the same time and a multichannel, low-noise amplifier, which allows recording of the extremely small ionic current through the ion channels.