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The Levinson Emerging Scholars Program

Tinny Liang - Bioengineering

Tinny LiangInitially pre-med focused, Tinny Liang joined the joint lab of Professors Paul Yager and Elain Fu during her freshman year; joining the lab has since opened the doors to biomedical research as a career. Currently a senior In the Department of Bioengineering, Tinny was drawn to technology’s ability to expand access to health care. Her interest and motivation to pursue research on paper-diagnostics for low resource settings is motivated by the fact that while there are cures for many infectious diseases (e.g. malaria, dengue) millions of people in developing countries still die from them. Millions of lives can be saved, and quality of life can be improved if given the tools for accurate diagnosis. With her mentor Professor Elain Fu, she has designed a novel paper-based malarial diagnostic test with improved sensitivity for the detection of infectious diseases in low resource settings. Tinny is currently working on incorporating a new paper-based tool to control reagent transport through this novel test for further improved sensitivity and improved test usability. She plans to continue her passion for biomedical research by pursuing an MD/PhD. Outside of the lab, Tinny is an active Biomedical Engineering Society Officer, volunteers at the Anatomic Pathology department at the University of Washington Medical Center, and leads several Bioengineering outreach events for high school students. She also enjoys playing badminton and cooking with friends.

Mentor: Elain Fu, Bioengineering

Project Title: Development of a Prototype Paper-based Malarial Diagnostic Device

Abstract: Millions of people in developing countries die from infectious diseases (e.g. malaria and dengue), yet many of these deaths can be prevented if giving the tools for accurate diagnosis. However, current diagnostic capabilities with the required clinical sensitivity are confined to laboratory settings due to cost, electrical, and personnel requirements. The current method for diagnosis of infectious diseases in low resource settings is lateral flow tests (LFTs), which have the appropriate usability but confined to single chemical step lack the required sensitivity. Thus there is a medical need for diagnostic tools with the required level of clinical sensitivity and usability for use in low resource settings. I will design a novel device capable of controlling fluid steps within a two dimensional paper networks (2DPN), which enables more sophisticated chemical processes for diagnosis in low resource settings for improved sensitivity and usability. The novel device will utilize commercial enhancement solutions for signal amplification via a metal catalytic reaction to increase sensitivity. I will determine the optimal set of reagents and reagent volumes that yields the highest sensitivity. A new 2DPN assay device will be designed to accommodate the reagent set and volumes, where sequential delivery of reagents is achieved through manipulation of paper geometry. I will then incorporate a fluidic on-switch into the paper network to improve usability (i.e. by reducing the size of the device and the time to read out).