James Herron, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutics & Pharmaceutical Chemistry; Research Associate Professor, Department of Bioengineering; Director, Center for Biopolymers at Interfaces
Bio-Polymer Research Building 20 S 2030 E Rm 108B Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Prof. Herron and his collaborator Prof. Doug Christensen (Bioengineering) have developed optical biosensor technology capable of performing medical diagnostics assays for multiple agents in a single patient sample using either immunoassays or molecular diagnostics assays. This platform technology is based on proven nanoscale evanescent planar waveguide technology in which a surface-selective electric field excites fluorescently tagged analyte molecules specifically captured by molecular recognition molecules (typically antibodies or oligonucleotide probes) patterned on the planar waveguide. These binding events can be monitored in real time, leading to fast kinetic assays requiring 5 minutes, or less for sub-picomolar detection. Also, the nanoscale surface selectivity allows assays to be performed in complex sample matrices such as whole blood or plasma. This technology has been tested in point-of-care settings such as field triage environments, emergency departments, and “stat” laboratories. It has also entered the translational research pathway, resulting in an FDA 510(k) premarket notification for cardiac biomarker screening system in 2004. Additional commercial applications are currently under development. These include inexpensive HIV screening assays for global health markets and a turn-key select agent screening system for biodefense.