The complexity of living organisms presents many challenges for a precise determination of the underlying causes of illness and disease. Systems biology provides a holistic framework for the investigation of biological function and dysfunction that allows observation of parallel pathways and unanticipated interactions through analysis of the entire organism. However, even with best methods available, most molecular species in living organisms escape detection and have been dubbed the “dark molecules of life.” This inability to detect most of the molecular species in living systems, is a key limitation that must be overcome for the full potential of systems biology to be realized. Therefore, improved analytical methods will provide enabling technology for fundamental discoveries that provide new diagnostics and therapeutics. As new diagnostic methods and biomarkers are discovered, their translation into inexpensive point-of-care medical diagnostic devices promises to improve and democratize healthcare.
With this current landscape, our research explores a variety of approaches to develop new laboratory based instrumentation and point-of-care diagnostic devices while covering a broad range from basic to translational research. Our more translational work is anchored by basic research on a number of phenomena, including the investigation of mass transport at the microscale and nanoscale. For example, we are continuing fundamental studies of mass transport at nanofluidic/microfluidic interfaces, and are applying these basic discoveries to improve the enrichment and analysis of low abundance proteins in comprehensive proteome analyses.