IIN Frontiers in Nanotechnology Seminar Series – Jorge Chavez
Dr. Jorge L. Chavez
Human Signatures Branch,
Airman Systems Directorate
711th Performance Wing
Air Force Research Laboratory
Hosted by George Schatz
Challenges in Biorecognition Element Selection Sensing Platforms
In this presentation, research performed in the Molecular Tools for Biosignature Tracking group at the 711th Human Performance Wing, US Air Force Research Laboratory will be discussed. Many detection platforms have been proposed in the last years to detect biomarkers of interest to the USAF and the DoD. However, one of the bottlenecks on the application of these sensors beyond the “proof of concept” level is the lack of biorecognition elements (BREs) to selectively detect non-model analytes. To address this issue we are currently working on the selection of peptide- and nucleic-acid based BREs targeting biomarkers related to fatigue and stress. In order to accelerate the selection process, we proposed to combine computational methods to design binding sequences and high throughput experimental screening of their binding properties in high density microarrays. Our results indicate that this pipeline could lead to the identification of promising aptamer and peptide candidates for biomarker detection. The integration of these BREs in different sensing platforms will be described with a few examples based on the use of aptamer-plasmonic nanoparticles conjugates to create colorimetric sensors. To rationally improve these sensors’ design, a better understanding of the interactions occurring at the interface of the BRE and the nanomaterial is critical. Therefore, we are using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and computational models to understand the different steps of the sensing process at the molecular level. Finally, research being performed as part of the Synthetic Biology for Military Environments program in collaboration with the Army Research Laboratory and the Navy Research Laboratory will be briefly described.
Dr. Jorge Chávez obtained a B.Sc. in Chemistry in Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, performing research in polymer science. He received a Ph.D. working in nanotechnology under the supervision of. Prof. Randy Duran in the Chemistry Department of the University of Florida. He then moved to the Air Force Research Laboratory where he started as a post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Morley Stone’s group. Jorge is currently leading a research group working at the intersection of nanotechnology and biology.