Dr. Mutharasan Awarded NSF Grant

Dr. Raj MutharasanProfessor Raj Mutharasan was awarded $339,984 from the National Science Foundation for his research titled "Detection and amplification of DNA at near room temperature". The funding period will start July 1 , 2012 and expires June 30, 2015. See Dr. Mutharasan's abstract below for more information on the project.


The overall goal is to investigate both detection and improvement of DNA using a device known as cantilever sensor. We will investigate systematically the role of intense surface vibration on bound double stranded DNA behavior. We hypothesize that the intense vibration will open up the molecule. Currently we do such a reaction by heating. Our preliminary work suggests that vibration directionally applied will cause double stranded DNA to come apart. We will investigate if a method of increasing the DNA on the sensor can be accomplished. If these two goals are accomplished we may be able to detect DNA that is present in extremely small amounts. The implication of such a capability is we can detect harmful bacteria quickly saving lives; detect human and animal diseases rapidly and inexpensively.

The intellectual merits are: merits are: (1) A new and inexpensive approach will be developed for the detection of DNA at a low copy number. (2) We will also develop a fundamental understanding of how vibration intensity affects DNA melting behavior, (3) Training of PhD students in the interdisciplinary area at the intersection of the broad fields of nucleic acid chemistry (kinetics and thermodynamics), electromechanical resonators, and measurement science.

An important broad impact will be the development of a new methodology that has sensitivity similar or better than the current expensive methods used in disease diagnosis and the presence of harmful bacteria.

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