UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The latest episode of The Symbiotic Podcast welcomes its largest-ever crew of guests, collaborators from a multi-disciplinary, multi-institution team that came together via video conference to talk about their work on a newly developed rapid diagnostic tool for COVID-19 and other viruses.
Penn State researchers Mauricio Terrones, Tim Yeh, Shenxi Huang and Sharon Huang were joined by fellow collaborator Elodie Ghedin of NYU’s School of Global Public Health. They are collectively working on research that could lead to the design and implementation of a handheld device that would detect viruses in a matter of minutes, not hours — without the presence of antibodies.
The team said a device such as this has the potential to be revolutionary for public health officials and could prevent newly emerging viruses from wreaking the same level of havoc that SARS-CoV-2 has left in its wake. The research is being supported by the
Huck Institutes-led Coronavirus Research Seed Fund.
“I’ve been studying infectious diseases my entire career,” said Andrew Read, director of the Huck Institutes, who referred to the technology as a potential “game changer.” “This is the first time I can recall a new potential diagnostic technology coming completely unexpectedly out of left field.”
The research requires cutting-edge savvy across a wide array of subjects, including: physics, epidemiology, electrical engineering, computer science, and virus identification. Team members collectively contribute expertise across technologies like lasers, carbon nanotubes, Raman spectroscopy, and artificial intelligence.
“It’s a brilliant example of what can emerge from the culture of convergence we aim to foster at MRI and Huck,” said Clive Randall, director of Penn State’s Materials Research Institute. “This project reflects the beauty and power of an interdisciplinary research approach.”
“Can Lasers Speed Up Coronavirus Detection?” is available in audio-only and video form on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast app. Audio, video, and transcripts can be accessed at The Symbiotic Podcast website.