EE Colloquium: Single Molecule Biosensors for Dynamic Multigene Analysis in Complex Tissue Environments

Abstract: Heterogeneity is a common feature of biological systems. The heterogeneity across multiple levels collectively drives a variety of biological processes, such as tissue morphogenesis, cancer invasion, and microbial/host interactions. Conventional biosensing approaches for characterizing molecular and cellular heterogeneity, however, are often limited due to the requirement of a large number of cells. Furthermore, the existing single-cell analysis techniques often require physical isolation or lysis of cells to "snapshot" RNA and protein biomarkers in a small subset of cells. Features of the complex microenvironment, such as hierarchical organization and dynamic cellular processes, are inherently lost by studying cells in isolation, fixation, and lysis. To address this challenge in biomedical research, we are developing a biosensing platform to enable dynamic single-cell gene expression analysis in complex tissue environments. In particular, we design nanoengineered probes that will allow endocytic uptake for real-time, dynamic intracellular detection of mRNA/miRNA, protein, and small molecules in living cells and tissues. In this presentation, I will discuss the application of the biosensing platform for rapid diagnosis of bacterial infections and probing bladder cancer heterogeneity.

Biography: Pak Kin Wong is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Surgery at the Pennsylvania State University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2005. Dr. Wong's research focuses on bioengineering techniques for elucidating collective cell migration in tissue regeneration and cancer metastasis and developing microfluidic systems for clinical diagnostics. He has published 100 peer-reviewed journal articles in the area of nanotechnology and biomedical engineering and is an inventor of three patents. He is an editor of Scientific Reports, IEEE Transaction on Nanotechnology, IEEE Nanotechnology Magazine, and SLAS Technology. Among other honors, Dr. Wong received the NIH Director's New Innovator Award in 2010, Arizona Engineering Faculty Fellow in 2011, AAFSAA outstanding Faculty Award in 2013, and JALA 10 – A Top 10 Breakthrough in Innovation in 2015. Dr. Wong is a Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS).


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Media Contact: Aida Ebrahimi



The School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was created in the spring of 2015 to allow greater access to courses offered by both departments for undergraduate and graduate students in exciting collaborative research in fields.

We offer B.S. degrees in electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering and data science and graduate degrees (master's degrees and Ph.D.'s) in electrical engineering and computer science and engineering. EECS focuses on the convergence of technologies and disciplines to meet today’s industrial demands.

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The Pennsylvania State University

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