Apr 2024

Bioengineering Seminar

Engineering Next-Generation Platforms for Ultrasensitive and Multiplexed Detection of microRNA Biomarkers

Professor Dana Alsulaiman
02 Apr, 2024
12:00 PM – 01:00 PM

The development of ultrasensitive, rapid, and robust point-of-care devices for biomarker detection holds great promise to revolutionize clinical diagnostics and enable precision medicine approaches in healthcare. Notably, microRNAs have emerged as a promising class of short (22-25 nt) non-coding RNA, which hold great promise as liquid biopsy biomarkers due to their gene regulatory functions and dysregulated patterns in many diseases including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. However, their short lengths and low endogenous concentrations make them challenging to detect, even with gold-standard techniques. There is thus an urgent need to develop simple and robust microRNA biosensors that offer high sensitivity and specificity, while being amenable to point-of-care testing. This presentation will introduce a number of next-generation platforms for multiplexed microRNA detection, which exploit the specificity of bespoke Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA) probes functionalized on a variety of biosensing surfaces and devices. At the intersection between polymeric biomaterials, nanomaterials, and microtechnologies, our research includes advancements in point-of-care electrochemical biosensors, graphically-encoded hydrogel microparticles, minimally-invasive dermal microneedles, and solid-state nanopores for single-molecule sensing applications to drive personalized and precision healthcare.

Dana Alsulaiman is an Assistant Professor of Material Science and Bioengineering at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Principal Investigator of the BioMAD Lab, which focuses on developing advanced biomaterials and next-generation technologies for minimally-invasive disease diagnosis and personalized therapy. Her research includes advancements in encoded hydrogel microparticles, smart microneedles, as well as optical and electrochemical point-of-care biosensors.

Dr Alsulaiman completed her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London in 2015 and was then granted the President’s PhD Scholarship to support her doctoral studies. In 2019, she moved to the USA to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT. Throughout her academic career, she received many prestigious awards including the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) Healthcare Technologies Award (2019), the MIT Innovator’s Under 35 Award (2021), and most recently the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talent Award (2023). Her translational efforts have also received international recognition, earning her a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 (MENA) List for 2023. 

Outside of academia, Dr Alsulaiman strives to promote youth in STEM and foster international collaborations through her involvement in outreach programs, renowned youth forums, and international symposiums, most notably co-chairing the Precision Medicine session at the 2023 Arab-American Frontiers Symposium and moderating panel discussions during the 2022 Misk Global Forum and the 2023 Global Sustainable Development Congress.

Event Quick Information

02 Apr, 2024
12:00 PM - 01:00 PM
Building 9 - Lecture Hall 2325