Bioscience

ASU institute working on improving health worldwide

July 28, 2008

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Nick Smith , The Arizona Republic]- The key to unlocking some of the most complex health issues facing society today may be found in some of the research being conducted in Tempe.

At the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, doctors, scientists and students are using state-of-the-art technology to improve the quality of life for people all over the world.

Some of the projects at the institute include pursuing nanotechnology improvements in solar energy, creating in-home diagnostic and treatment devices and developing a bio-diesel fuel from photosynthetic bacteria. Research at the institute has been going on for nearly four years and has resulted in patented inventions.

“The work being done there is pretty incredible,” said Mike Hicks, a recent ASU graduate who works on a research team at the institute. “It really could make a big difference.”

The institute receives funding from contributors that include state and federal government, industry grants and different philanthropies.

For the past year, researchers have been working on a system that simultaneously purifies dirty water on a mass level and turns the extracted bacteria into bio-diesel, according to institute staff. The research is being conducted on a small level inside labs, but the ultimate goal would be to receive funding to produce it on a marketable level. Other researchers are working on a personalized diagnostic and treatment system known as “Doc-in-a-Box.” The goal is to have the system in every home to serve as a personalized doctor, according to Stephen Albert Johnson, the director for the Center for Innovations in Medicine at the Biodesign Institute.

“Doc-in-a-Box” would allow for detection of diseases before any symptoms arise by analyzing blood samples on a regular basis.