New Faculty: Daniel Roxbury

What if a wearable device, such as a wristwatch, could be used for real-time bio-imaging and bio-sensing for the purpose of detecting a wide range of biomarkers that signal the start of diseases such as
cancer?

The research that URI Chemical Engineering Assistant Professor Daniel Roxbury is conducting in his Nanobio Engineering Lab at URI could lead to such an invention.

“The focus of my work is in the engineering of fluorescent carbon nanotubes for biomedical applications, including imaging, sensing and drug delivery,” said Roxbury. “This research will lead to a better understanding of toxicological concerns, robust sensor development, and the fundamental interactions between these relatively new nanomaterials and biological environments.”

Prior to joining the faculty at URI for the Fall semester of 2016, Roxbury studied implantable carbon nanotube sensors at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His research findings were chronicled recently in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Roxbury and his co-researchers used carbon nanotubes — tiny needle-like hollow cylinders that are 100,000 times smaller than a strand of human hair — to engineer nanobiosensors.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society, demonstrated that the sensors can be embedded under the skin and imaged with the use of harmless infrared light.

At URI, Roxbury would like to take his research to the next phase.

“I would like to begin preclinical experiments on live animals, utilizing the engineered carbon nanotube sensors,” stated Roxbury. “Additionally, I would like to explore the incorporation of the developed sensors into wearable devices for real-time bioanalytical measurements.”

The wearable technology would enable patients to monitor themselves from home and it could automatically alert a physician if necessary.

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