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Engaging students in use-inspired research

Jeffrey La Belle, assistant research professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, is leading use-inspired research focusing on noninvasive sensing and point-of-care technologies. He is focusing on the challenges of early detection and effective management of leading diseases such as diabetes, cardiac issues, cancer and infectious diseases.

In one of his research projects, La Belle has teamed with Mayo Clinic and BioAccel on a new type of self-monitoring blood glucose sensor that enables patients to test tear samples rather than blood.

More than 23 million people in the United States have diabetes. La Belle says that many are reluctant to test blood glucose levels because of the painful finger-prick testing method used today. Testing tears provides the same accuracy and may help encourage more frequent testing and lead to better control of the disease.

La Belle is engaging students in this research and other projects, with 30 students from many disciplines working in his labs. He is also encouraging future Sun Devils through a year-long, after-school internship for high school students.

Learn more about La Belle’s research:

La Belle’s students and research abstracts from the spring 2011 FURI Symposium

Thirteen of La Belle’s undergraduate students presented at the recent FURI (Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative) Symposium, a semi-annual public event that highlights student research in the program.


Teagan Adamson, Biomedical Engineering
A Simplified and Integrated Glucose-Monitoring Biosensor

Focusing on one possible biomarker, glucose, in combination with the GDH-FAD enzyme and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) techniques easy to use, less invasive, home-based biosensor that measures blood glucose levels over a long period of time, and has the sensitivity of clinical lab instruments.

Theresa Broniak, Biomedical Engineering
Fixation of hsC-Reactive Protein on Gold Disk Electrode

The objective is to detect C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in a body correlating it to disease state. Future work will involve an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay of CRP as well as replication of lectrochemical impedance spectroscopy experiments for concentration detection using gold disk electrodes.

James Choca, Mechanical Engineering
The Muscle Staggered Array

This study aims to determine an optimal design for a prosthesis actuator that utilizes actuator-grade shape memory alloy (SMA) wires.  The actuator utilizes staggered SMA wires to achieve linear compression levels comparable to that of human muscles.

Zachary W. Decke, Biomedical Engineering
Utilization of Insulin in Multi-marker Biosensing for Better Diabetes Mellitus Management

Optimization of insulin detection techniques are currently being researched as the project moves towards electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) as the goal in effective and accurate multi-marker sensing. Ultimately, insulin and EIS will be incorporated, along with other markers, onto a device that is both highly sensitive to physiological changes and highly specific to each individual marker.

Tina Hakimi, Biomedical Engineering
Development of a Multi-Marker Stress Sensing Device

The goal of this project is to develop a biosensor which will monitor the levels of five biomarkers in the body which have shown promise as indicators of stress related injuries or illnesses. A powerful diagnostic tool which simultaneously detects the presence, decrease, or increase of all five markers, this sensor can aid health care professionals in their ability to rapidly respond to a trauma incident.


Brittney Haselwood, Biomedical Engineering
Investigation of Electrochemical Techniques of Key Bio-markers to obtain a Continuous Sensor to be applied to Traumatic Brain Injury

It is known that catecholamine concentrations (Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and Epinephrine) change with injury and are significant in monitoring Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) processes such as inflammation. The goal is to create an electrochemical sensor to track the progress of TBI, helping to avoid common issues and make treatment more customized and effective.

Kenneth Lan, Biomedical Engineering, Biology
Development of a diabetic tear glucose sensor

Evaluating two candidate enzymes, glucose dehydrogenase-flavin adenine dinucleotide (GDH-FAD) and glucose oxidase (GOx), for use in a tear glucose sensor for diabetics, GDH-FAD was found to detect glucose over a wider concentration range than GOx and exhibited a higher signal-to-noise ratio, but slightly less specificity, suggesting that GDH-FAD would be better for glucose sensing applications if measures can be taken to ensure sensor specificity.

Christopher McBride, Computer Systems Engineering
Achieving Higher Sensitivity in Noninvasive Glucose Meters

To aid in diabetes control, this project aims to create an innovative diabetes monitor which would simultaneously measure multiple chemical levels in the body and provide five times the information in a single test. Future work will consist of device testing and trivial modifications to the device design can then be made to allow for simultaneous measurement of multiple chemical levels in the body.

Anabel Murillo, Biomedical Engineering
An Integrated and Simplified HbA1c Test Sensor for Diabetes Care

Much of the damage caused by diabetes happens because of glycosylation of proteins in the body, as glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c). This research focuses on sensing the glycated hemoglobin to be able to detect the percentage of HbA1c.

Katherine A. Ruh, Biomedical Engineering
Wearable-subcutaneous, continuous electrochemical sensor

The objective of this research effort was to create a minimally invasive continuous stress sensor that can be comfortably worn on the body to measure the wearer’s stress levels. Future work includes build the adhesive patch and performing skin depth modeling.


Lindsey Ryder, Biomedical Engineering
Development of an Electrochemical Sensor for the Study of Cardiovascular Disease

The objective of this study is to develop a highly reproducible electrochemical electrode for future study of biomarkers for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Future work will include optimizing the sensor as a multi-marker device that will indicate risk for cardiovascular disease.

Neil Saez, Biomedical Engineering
Long-Term Storage Solutions for a Tear-Based Glucose Sensor

This research focused on optimizing the design of a tear-based glucose sensor, in order to increase viability of the electrochemical reagents over its shelf-life.  This new sensor assembly will allow for more extensive in-situ testing of tear-glucose levels.


Pankti Shah, Biomedical Engineering
Elimination of Electrochemical Interferents in Glucose Tear Sensor

As electrochemical interferents have been shown to affect the performance of a non-invasive tear glucose sensor, evaluation of potential solutions was completed, accomplishing slight improvement in reducing interference of ascorbic acid and acetaminophen. Further studies will involve investigating new ways to eliminate noise more effectively and integrating these changes into an updated device.

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