As an electrical engineer, Associate Professor Jennifer Blain Christen has spent a good portion of her career dabbling in different fields.
Her enthusiasm for exploring new and different ways of applying electrical engineering earned her the funding to leverage her expertise to create an innovative new diagnostic tool.
The project aims to develop a disposable, point-of-care biosensor for rapid diagnosis and health monitoring, supported by a four-year, $1.8 million Smart and Connected Health award from the National Science Foundation.
Working in conjunction withArizona State University’s Flexible Display Center and Professor Karen Anderson of the Biodesign Institute, Blain Christen envisions a sweat-absorbing patch about the size of a nicotine or birth control patch with the ability to provide an immediate window into a patient’s health.
This is accomplished with a small screen within the patch, much like a miniature TV screen, which uses light to examine molecules within sweat. The screen projects light through the molecules and the color of light that emerges indicates the presence or absence of disease.
An added benefit of this approach is that each pixel on the screen can look for different biomarkers, or measurable indicators that can be used to diagnose disease, to look for a variety of illnesses or health conditions.
Blain Christen, a faculty member in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, also wants to enable these sensors to communicate with mobile devices, leveraging the computing power we all carry around with us in our smartphones.