Bioscience

Detecting and identifying contamination from bacteria, viruses, and other microbes at UA

May 30, 2007

By Flinn Foundation

Self-decontaminating surfaces and inexpensive devices that can be used anywhere to rapidly diagnose disease are two areas of research for new BIO5 member Linda S. Powers, PhD. The projects are part of her interest in developing technology to detect and identify contamination from bacteria, viruses and other microbes. Microbe detection is accomplished with light (the intrinsic florescence of the microbes) and the detection instrument is very sensitive and measures small numbers of microbes in real time. Once the microbe is detected, a second test (small molecules that binds to specific microbes) reveals what it is within a few seconds.

Dr. Powers joined The University of Arizona (UA) faculty this year, coming from Utah State University. Also moving to Tucson this year is the company Dr. Powers founded, MicroBioSystems, which manufactures and licenses the detection and identification of microbes. The company builds and tests prototypes for other companies, and licenses the technology. Dr. Powers is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and the Thomas R. Brown Chair of Bioengineering, and director of the National Center for the Design of Molecular Function at the UA.

Dr. Powers is joined by BIO5 member Walther R. Ellis, Jr., PhD, who also relocated to the UA from Utah State University. He is a research professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and associate director of the National Center for the Design of Molecular Function.