Available: 01/02/21, Expires: 10/31/23
Our overall goal is to develop a simple blood test that, when combined with mammographic imaging, can detect aggressive breast cancers early and accurately. Our aims are twofold:
1) Reduce the false-positive rates of mammographic screening. Mammographic screening for breast cancer is limited due to its high false-positive rate, resulting in unnecessary biopsies, high costs, and high patient morbidity. Mammography can detect a visible mass or calcifications but cannot distinguish between cancer and non-cancer in all cases. A blood biomarker test integrated with mammographic screening would provide additional biological information and disease stratification that could reduce the number of screen-detected false positives.
2) Accurately detect aggressive cancers that require treatment early. The high false-negative rate of current screening methods misses cancers that require treatment. Furthermore, our inability to differentiate aggressive from indolent cancer is a significant clinical problem that leads to overdiagnosis and overtreatment. A blood biomarker test integrated with mammographic imaging could provide additional biological information and disease stratification to improve early and accurate detection of aggressive cancers and reduce overdiagnosis and overtreatment.
The student will identify biomarker candidates, learn the process of developing an ultrasensitive immunoassay, and test for the biomarkers in clinical blood samples as we examine the ability of the panel to discriminate subtypes of breast cancer and in samples preceding clinical diagnosis.
Available: 11/01/21, Expires: 10/31/23
This project focuses on translating the ultrasensitive digital ELISA platforms developed in the Walt lab to an integrated point-of-care device for blood-based detection of tuberculosis. We have previously developed a digital ELISA strategy with attomolar limits of protein detection, based on the generation of a localized fluorescent signal on single immunocomplexes captured on antibody-coated beads. This interdisciplinary project will combine work in microfluidics, analytical chemistry, and clinical diagnostics.
Students will contribute to development and optimization of the point-of-care device, including sample processing and signal readout modules. Clinical validation of point-of-care assays for measuring both HIV and tuberculosis biomarker panels will be performed. Basic wet lab skills are required, and students with experiences in various areas such as microfabrication, programming, or infectious disease diagnostics are welcomed. The project will be carried out at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Brigham and Women's Hospital (Hale Building for Transformative Medicine).
Available: 11/01/21, Expires: 10/31/23
We are developing new highly sensitive diagnostics for the detection of neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's) from blood. The project is focused on defining and isolating brain-derived biomarkers in plasma, such as neuron-specific extracellular vesicles (and their RNA/protein contents), cell-free DNA, and proteins. We are using a variety of experimental and computational techniques to isolate and analyze these biomarkers, including high throughput sequencing and Single Molecule Array (Simoa) immunoassays. The project involves several aspects of technology development towards the isolation and measurement of these biomarkers, as well as testing them in patient biofluid samples.
Working with a team of neuroscientists and bioengineers, a medical student would help to optimize protocols for both cell type specific EV isolation from Neurons and Glia as well as to explore total EV isolation in plasma and Cerebrospinal fluid. The medical student can pursue new molecular targets they are interested in while also contributing to the team's overall methods development goals.