Rice: Unconventional Wisdom
Thesis Defense
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Speaker: Amirali Aghazadeh Mohandesi
Masters Candidate

  Universal Microbial Sensing using Random DNA Probes
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
2:00 PM  to 3:30 PM
2014  Duncan Hall

We present a novel microbial sensing platform capable of both detecting the presence and estimating the concentration of microbial organisms in an infectious sample using a small number of random DNA probes. Our Universal Microbial Diagnostics (UMD) platform leverages the theory of sparse signal recovery (compressive sensing) to stably identify the composition of a sample containing several bacteria from a potentially large library of target bacteria. We experimentally validate UMD in vitro using a set of random sloppy molecular beacons to recover three pathogenic bacteria without DNA amplification. We also evaluate the average performance of UMD in silico for genus and species level identification of 38 common human pathogens. A particularly promising property of UMD for health care, environmental monitoring, and defense applications is that a fixed set of random measurement probes are universal in the sense that they can characterize novel organisms not present in the target library.

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