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Porter Group Lab



Goal : “To develop very small biosensors to detect pancreatic cancer and other diseases in which early detection reduces mortality rates.”


Dr. Marc Porter and his research team's primary research focuses on nanotechnology "biosensors" to detect materials in biological systems at ultra-low levels of concentration. These biosensors have great potential for use in immunoassays - the detection of proteins and viruses in biological materials like blood and urine. One of Porter's research areas, giant magnetoresistors (GMRs) centers on developing disease detection methods using the same magnetic principles as a common computer hard drive. Porter's group uses magnetic nanoparticles combined with antibodies to capture and bind proteins, viruses, and other disease markers. The GMRs use magnetic responses to detect the presence of the captured disease proteins at a nanoscale level, making early detection of diseases possible.

Dr. Porter and his colleagues developed novel uses for spherical, cubic, and rod-shaped gold nanoparticles that are used in early detection of disease. For example, Porter and his team have developed the first system to accurately diagnose pancreatic cancer at a stage early enough that therapy might be able to help decrease the current 50 percent mortality rate.

Group Members



Jennifer Granger
Dr. Granger is a research associate at the Nano Institute of Utah specializing in the interface of biology and analytical chemistry. Her research is dedicated to the development of new detection strategies for pathogens, cancer and biowarfare agents.


Robert Soto

Robert Soto
Robert is a postdoctoral research associate at the Nano Institute at the University of Utah. His research interests lie in biosensor development applied to disease detection and management. Robert holds a B.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics from the University of Arizona and a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.


Lars Laurentius

Lars Laurentius
My research interests span the fields of analytical chemistry, surface chemistry, immunological chemistry, nanotechnology, and detection techniques. This broad interest is an excellent fit in Professor Porter’s research group at the University of Utah, which focuses on designing and implementing nanostructures in pathogens/disease detection strategies that include laboratory-based diagnosis, and more importantly, rapid, field-deployable tests. These detection strategies include techniques such as Surface-enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS), Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), UV-vis Spectroscopy, Fluorimetry, and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA).


China Lim
PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Utah
BS in Chemical Engineering, Oregon State University
Research interests: point-of-need detection for biodefense and disease diagnostics, immunoassays, protein immobilization methods, interfacial/monolayer reactions, magnetic label development.


Colin Young 

Colin Young
Research interests: I am interested in applying nano and biotechnologies towards medical related fields, such as disease diagnostics and treatments. My current work is on developing a biomarker-based test for tuberculosis.


Jooneon Park
Research interests: nanoparticle assemblies, biosensors, and nanotechnology-based diagnostics.
 “I’m not a pessimist, but a realistic optimist.” “I’m the particle maker.”


 Jason Beck

Jason Beck
Jason is developing special flow cells designed to measure the concentration of disease markers without the need for standard calibrant samples.  Jason is also involved in exploring new substrates for use in surface-enhanced Raman scattering immunoassays, including pyrolyzed photoresist films.


Alex Skuratovsky

Aleksander Skuratovsky
Alex PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering with a BS in Applied Math. Research projects include the development of a calibrant-free immunoassay for the early detection of cancer and diseases, as well as the investigating the impact of laser spot size and sampling on accuracy and precision of Raman analyses to further improve limits of detection of our assays.


 Nick Owens

Nicholas Owens
B.A. Chemistry, University of Utah, 2010
B.A. Biology, University of Utah, 2011
My current research focuses on two areas with the ultimate goal of improving our ability to rapidly and reliability detect analytes of interest at increasing lower concentrations. My first area of interest employs a number of spectroscopic methods including UV-Vis spectroscopy and infrared external reflection spectroscopy to examine reactions at solid-liquid interfaces. Specifically, I am looking at chemistries used to couple molecular recognition elements to biosensor surfaces with the aim of elucidating the optimal reaction conditions and how this impacts the detection of analytes of interest. My second area of interest involves the integration of (1) rapid sample pretreatment methods, (2) handheld instrumentation, and (3) our newly developed enhancing surfaces to develop a point-of-need diagnostic method for tuberculosis detection based on a surface-enhanced Raman scattering immunoassay.


Ryan Robinson
Ryan's research interest lies at the interface of biotechnology, analytical science, automation, and nanotechnology, with a focus on improving healthcare.
Ryan has worked to progress healthcare in the following areas; gold nanoparticle-mediated plasmonic photothermal therapy for cancer treatment, guided delivery of polymer therapeutics using plasmonic photothermal therapy, improving oxygen delivery during otolaryngologist operations in the throat, larynx, and esophagus for youth through the design of a digital bronchoscope, palliative care of vaginal fistulas through device design, tuberculosis detection via SERS and ELISA, improving TB antigen extraction from serum, optimization of assay conditions through automation.




Last Updated: 2/16/17