Adam Woolley

Industrial Problem: Design and production of integrated microfluidic systems for complex biological analyses. Together let’s build and analyze biological molecules!

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The Woolley Research Group

Micro-and Nanometer-Scale Chemical Manipulation and Analysis:

My group works at the interface between chemistry, engineering and biology. Thus, students receive broad technical training and are well poised to contribute in these key research fields. A common theme in my research is the interrelationship between biological molecules and miniaturization. We are utilizing miniaturization tools to detect and quantify clinically relevant biomolecules, and we are also applying DNA in forming nanoscale materials.

A. Integrated microfluidic systems for preterm birth risk assessment. Preterm birth (PTB) is a serious issue, with approximately 10% of pregnancies resulting in a preterm delivery, frequently coupled with complications that lead to poor outcomes and increased medical costs. We are developing microfluidic systems that combine extraction, fluorescent labeling and separation all in a single microchip (Fig. 1). These devices will provide high-throughput, point of care screening from a finger stick quantity of blood to assess risk of a preterm delivery, weeks before contractions begin.

B. Biotemplated nanofabrication of electronics: My group is leading an interdisciplinary team whose objective is to explore bottom-up methods for the fabrication of nanoscale electronic systems. We fold DNA into controlled nanoscale designs that can be converted into functional electronic elements after purification and metallization (Fig. 2). We are presently applying these methods in making metal-semiconductor junctions with linewidths as small as 5 nm.

C. Rapid Blood Infection Determination: We are developing methods for detecting bacterial infections in blood in less than one hour, in collaboration with a group of biologists and engineers. A schematic of the proposed system is shown in Figure 3. Our focus is on the capture and fluorescent labeling of nucleic acid material from bacteria. We are developing microfluidic systems with solid supports designed to selectively capture nucleic acid sequences from pathogenic organisms in blood. The retained nucleic acids will then be labeled fluorescently for subsequent single-molecule detection.