Global Health

Affiliated Faculty

Mehmet Toner, PhD
Daniel Irimia, MD, PhD
Martin Yarmush, MD, PhD
Ron Tompkins, MD, ScD
Rebecca D. Sandlin, PhD

Global Health Group

The focus of this research group is to design novel diagnostic tools for diseases of importance in Global Health, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and typhoid fever. Although several diagnostic assays exist today for these diseases, these tools are either too expensive or require an efficient infrastructure that is not available in resource-poor settings.

Our goal is to develop point-of-care (POC) diagnostic devices that will enable the decentralized delivery of health care to those who need it. In recent years, our group has developed a microfluidics-based CD4+ T-cell counter to aid in HIV/AIDS monitoring.

Specifically, the microchip uses a cell affinity chromatography approach under differential shear flow to specifically isolate CD4+ T lymphocytes with high efficiency directly from 10 microlitres of unprocessed, unlabeled whole blood. This device is currently undergoing commercialization.

In order to complement the CD4 counter, current efforts in the laboratory focus on the development of a device for HIV viral load determination from whole blood, which will serve in disease monitoring as well as infant diagnosis of HIV infection.

In addition, in the past two years, we have significantly expanded our team and efforts to contribute to the development of tools to control the current tuberculosis epidemic. Representative project descriptions are provided below.

Ongoing research projects:

  • Single-cell studies of M. tuberculosis growth and division to shed light into the mechanisms of drug tolerance during tuberculosis treatment
  • The use of CD1b T-cells as biomarkers for tuberculosis infection, which could be used in the development of an immune response-based diagnostic for tuberculosis
  • Rapid and highly sensitive POC diagnostic for tuberculosis based on the detection of M. tuberculosis bacilli in patient sputa using a miniaturized magnetic resonance detector

Representative Publications

  1. Chen, Grace D., Fabio Fachin, Marta Fernandezā€Suarez, Brian L. Wardle, and Mehmet Toner. "Nanoporous elements in microfluidics for multiscale manipulation of bioparticles." Small 7, no. 8 (2011): 1061-1067.
  2. Watkins, Nicholas N., Supriya Sridhar, Xuanhong Cheng, Grace D. Chen, Mehmet Toner, William Rodriguez, and Rashid Bashir. "A microfabricated electrical differential counter for the selective enumeration of CD4+ T lymphocytes." Lab on a Chip 11, no. 8 (2011): 1437-1447.
  3. Liong, Monty, Anh N. Hoang, Jaehoon Chung, Nil Gural, Christopher B. Ford, Changwook Min, Rupal R. Shah, Rushdy Ahmad, Marta Fernandez-Suarez, Sarah M. Fortune, Mehmet Toner, Hakho Lee and Ralph Weissleder. "Magnetic barcode assay for genetic detection of pathogens." Nature communications 4 (2013): 1752.
  4. Kelley, Shana O., Chad A. Mirkin, David R. Walt, Rustem F. Ismagilov, Mehmet Toner, and Edward H. Sargent. "Advancing the speed, sensitivity and accuracy of biomolecular detection using multi-length-scale engineering."Nature nanotechnology 9, no. 12 (2014): 969-980.
  5. Kelley, Shana O., Chad A. Mirkin, David R. Walt, Rustem F. Ismagilov, Mehmet Toner, and Edward H. Sargent. "Advancing the speed, sensitivity and accuracy of biomolecular detection using multi-length-scale engineering."Nature nanotechnology 9, no. 12 (2014): 969-980.
  6. Martel, Joseph M., and Mehmet Toner. "Inertial focusing in microfluidics."Annual review of biomedical engineering 16 (2014): 371-396.
  7. Hsu, Chia-Hsien, Chihchen Chen, Daniel Irimia, and Mehmet Toner. "Fast sorting of CD4+ T cells from whole blood using glass microbubbles."TECHNOLOGY 3, no. 01 (2015): 38-44.

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