Mobile Platform for Multiplexed Detection and Differentiation of Disease-Specific Nucleic Acid Sequences, Using Microfluidic Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification and Smartphone Detection

In a collaboration with University of Illinois, Dr. David Hirschberg contributed significantly to a recent publication in Analytical Chemistry involving the application of Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) to perform point-of-care diagnostics using a microfluidic chip. His role was the development of the LAMP assay for equine pathogen detection.

Genomic of Vitamin D Supplementation and Warfighter Nutritional Resilience

Dr. Stan Langevin, in collaboration with Dr. Mary McCarthy at Madigan Army Medical Center, is examining the effect of Vitamin D levels on gene expression related to musculoskeletal disorders and immune function. The clinical study involves service members with Vitamin D deficiencies and examines the effect phenotypic and transcriptomic effect of low and high levels of Vitamin D supplementation.

Affordable, Paper-based Assay for Detection of Arsenic Contamination

RAIN and Edgewood Chemical Biological Center co-sponsored a team of high school and undergraduates to participate in the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition. Over the summer, the team developed a biosensor utilizing plasmid DNA to detect the presence of arsenic in solution. We will continue to develop a synthetic biology project for iGEM 2018.

Wearable Technologies

RAIN is developing new proposals in the field of wearable technologies. Dr. Kristine Grace, DDS is spearheading efforts to develop a smart mouthguard to reduce occurrence of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and increase the effectiveness of warfighters in the field. This work will involve the engineering of mouthguards containing sensors for data collection and transmission.

Farm or Bacteria: Development of a DNA assay for the Detection of the Virginiamycin Antibiotic Transcripts in Mussel Tissue

RAIN, in collaboration with The Center for Urban Waters is working to develop an RT-qPCR (reverse transcriptase-quantitative polymerase chain reaction) assay to detect for the presence of the virginiamycin antibiotic producing bacteria Streptomyces virginiae in mussel tissue. The development of this assay is key to understanding the source of virginiamycin present in the Puget Sound.

Engineering Rhizobacteria to Improve Crop Yields and Reduce Fertilizer-Use in Legumes

Legumes have the unique ability to form a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, Rhizobia. As a result, they require little to no fertilizer and are ideal for soil revitalization to grow other crops. Improving and expanding the benefits of rhizobia colonization can promote decreased fertilizer use while improving crop quality. Bean plants inoculated with rhizobia engineered to overexpress a gene tied to trehalose synthesis has been shown to increase nitrogen fixation, as well as increase crop yields and tolerance to environmental stressors. Trehalose is a sugar used by many organisms to survive freezing or droughts. This research will be used to develop the next generation of rhizobial inoculants and eventually improve plants beyond legumes.

Detecting Chytrid Fungus Using Aptamer-based Biosensors

Executed in collaboration with the University of Washington Tacoma to develop a solution in response to the challenge laid forth by Conservation X Labs. From 2018 to 2019, the team developed a detection method for the growing amphibian threat that is the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), involving the use of an aptamer-based biosensor that utilizes specific binding of a protein-based analyte. This project is ongoing.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) Detection

Environmental DNA is used to identify species in nature without physically observing the species. Tracking and monitoring the presence of endangered, rare, or cryptic species is valuable for researchers who are involved in efforts such as native species re-introduction, invasive species monitoring, and declines in animal populations. This project will demonstrate the transfer of eDNA technology into RAIN’s laboratory and develop methodology for DNA detection that is more effective or sensitive than standard qPCR. The goal will be to establish a contract service available to the community and to develop test kits suitable for field research.

For more information regarding any of these projects, contact