Electrical and Computer Engineering

WIMS Seminar

Applications of Ion Channels for Diagnostics and Affinity Sensors

Professor Michael Mayer

Professor Michael Mayer, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan

ABSTRACT: Ion channel proteins play essential roles in all living cells. They are responsible for regulating the electric potential across cell membranes, they regulate intracellular ion concentrations, and they are important in signal transduction between cells. Ion channels also act as sensors with amazing signal amplification: binding of only one ligand molecule to certain ion channels can induce the flux of 10,000 ions per millisecond.
This talk will present two approaches to harbor these amazing characteristics of ion channels. In the first approach, we are using high-throughput technology to record the ion channel activity in human T lymphocytes (a type of immune cells). The goal of this research is to develop a blood-based assay for early diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is the most common neurodegenerative disease in young adults and early diagnosis of the disease is often very challenging. In the second approach, we are exploring a bio-inspired strategy for sensing. We are using femtosecond-pulsed lasers to prepare sub-micrometer-sized pores in glass substrates. These artificial ion channels are then used to detect viruses, staphylococcus enterotoxin B (an agent with bioterrorism potential), as well as immune complexes.
Ion channels are fascinating molecular “machines” that can respond to chemical, mechanical, and electrical stimuli in an extremely efficient fashion. These nanometer-sized switches provide ample inspiration for nano-science and -technology.

Education: PhD: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland, Biophysical Chemistry, 2000; Diplom Thesis: University of Washington, Seattle, Bioanalytical Chemistry
1996; BS and MS: Technical University Carolo Wilhelmina, Braunschweig, Germany, Bioengineering, 1992 and 1996 respectively.
Professional Experience: Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Departments, University of Michigan, 2004; Postdoctoral Associate in Biological Chemistry, Harvard University, Cambridge, 2001-2003; Scientist (part of Ph.D.), Bioanalytical Research, Novartis Pharma, Basel, Switzerland, 1996-1998.

Sponsored by

WIMS ERC Seminar Series