The enabling technologies that are prevalent in life science research and those more desirable for translational applications have a major difference: The former emphasizes the capability of quantitative analysis of multiple components, while the latter weighs more heavily on the efficiency and robustness of the system, even though in some cases only qualitative results are provided. There lies the problem: the bench-based methods are not translational to patient-oriented applications, and the clinical tools are suffering from low sensitivity, long response time, etc. Nanosensors may offer a solution to bridge this gap, as their sensitivities approach the single molecule level and their architectures are adaptable to various clinical needs. In this talk, I will present optical nanosensors as a tool to extend our capability for the applications of translational medicine. Two examples will be given to represent two distinct architectures to solve medical problems at single molecule and single cell level, respectively. The first example is an integrated silicon photonic device that can measure binding kinetics between two single molecules without fluorescent labeling. The second example is a “lab-on-a-tip” device that monitors protein expressions in single living cells over a time course. These nanosensor approaches, complementary to fluorescent imaging, will broaden our understanding of basic life processes at molecular level and will provide new ways for drug discovery and disease diagnostics.
Qimin Quan is a Principal Investigator, Rowland Junior Fellow at Rowland Institute at Harvard University. Qimin received his B.S. degree in Physics from Peking University (2007) and Ph.D. degree in Applied Physics from Harvard University (2012). His Ph.D. research focused on developing nanophotonic devices to study light and matter interactions. After graduation, he joined Rowland Institute at Harvard as a Principal Investigator and has been focusing on integrating methods in nanotechnology, biochemistry and device physics to innovate new tools at nanoscale to address challenges posed by traditional approaches in biomedicine.