2022 Suddath Award Winner Presentation


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"Protocell Arrays for Simultaneous Detection of Diverse Analytes"

Yan Zhang, Doctoral Candidate

Mark Styczynski, Ph.D., Advisor
School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Georgia Tech

Simultaneous detection of multiple analytes from a single sample (multiplexing), particularly when done at the point of need, can guide complex decision-making without increasing the required sample volume or cost per test. Despite recent advances, nearly all analyte multiplexing strategies require a library of orthogonal reporters, cannot measure analytes from diverse molecular classes, and are challenging to implement at the point of need. Here, I will present the development of a protocell array platform created by cell-free biosensors and polymer-based aqueous two-phase systems (ATPS) to address the current limitations in analyte multiplexing. I showed that compartmentalizing cell-free biosensors in multiple phase-separated “droplets” formed by ATPS yield what are essentially membrane-less protocells. These protocells, each performing a distinct sensing reaction, can be arrayed in the same microwell to detect chemically diverse targets (ions, small molecules, and nucleic acids) from the same sample. Furthermore, these protocell arrays are compatible with human biofluids, maintain function after lyophilization and rehydration, and produce visually interpretable results, illustrating this platform’s potential as a minimal-equipment, field-deployable, multi-analyte detection tool. 

The F. L. (Bud) Suddath Memorial Award has been established by the family, friends and colleagues of Bud Suddath to stimulate graduate research in the fields of biology, biochemistry and biomedical engineering. The award is given annually to a doctoral student of Georgia Tech who has at least one year remaining in his or her doctoral program and who has demonstrated significant research achievement in the field of biology, biochemistry or biomedical engineering. The awardee is provided an award of up to $1,000 in value which may be used to facilitate the completion of his or her scholarly development. The recipient will also be presented with an award as well as having his or her name engraved on the School's commemorative plaque. The recipient of this award will speak at a special event hosted by the Petit Institute the following year to present his or her research and talk about how the award impacted their research.