Connie B. Chang
Montana State University
Lab-on-a-chip and diagnostic tools for COVID-19
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has rapidly evolved into a pandemic that is threatening public health, economics, and quality of life worldwide. The gold-standard for testing individuals for COVID-19 is using traditional RT-qPCR, which is expensive and can take up to several hours. Expanding surveillance across a global scale will call for new strategies and tests that are inexpensive, require minimal reagents, decrease assay time, and allow for simple point-of-care (POC) monitoring without need of trained personnel and with quick turnaround time. To expand the speed of COVID-19 surveillance, we are working on a point-of-care microfluidic chip to enable significantly faster and easier testing. This is based upon digital drop loop-mediated isothermal amplification that will allow for rapid testing of large populations at a reasonable cost. The device will employ a nucleic-acid based test called reverse transcriptase LAMP (RT- LAMP) that operates at a temperature of 60-65°C. RT-LAMP removes the bottleneck of thermal cycling and high temperatures required by traditional RT-qPCR thermocycling. The simplicity, speed, and sensitivity will enable early treatment and response to infection.
Bio: Dr. Connie B. Chang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University. Dr. Chang is a graduate of Wellesley College and received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Chang was a postdoctoral scholar at Harvard University in Physics and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Dr. Chang’s research interests include soft matter, complex fluids, biomaterials, and microfluidics. She is currently studying how subpopulations of influenza virus might be applied as a new type of therapeutic and how spatial heterogeneity of individual microbes in a bacterial biofilm community influences emergent behavior such as antibiotic resistance.