Building Better Diagnostic Tools
“That’s pretty exciting,” says Yanina Shevchenko, a PhD electronics student at Carleton, who is spending a year researching at a leading Harvard lab renowned for its work on tissue engineering.
At Carleton, Shevchenko has been working with her supervisor, Electronics professor Jacques Albert, and co-supervisor, Chemistry professor Maria DeRosa, on developing a very sensitive, low-cost and compact fiber biosensor.
This device could potentially be used in situations outside hospitals to diagnose patients with certain diseases such as cancer or HIV infection.
Says Shevchenko: “Dr. Albert has been exceptionally supportive, as he provided me with a lot of freedom and let me choose a research group and topic that I wanted to explore.” Albert is also Canada Research Chair in Advanced Photonic Components.
Now at Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology division, Shevchenko is researching a slightly different application.
Shevchenko explains: “We use the same device but for analysis of cellular reactions. Cells are grown on top of our sensors in incubators and we use fiber to analyze what happens inside these cells.”
Ultimately this research should help scientists working with engineering artificial body parts and tissues by providing them with an understanding of what happens inside cells.
Shevchenko says her Harvard experience is providing her with a fresh perspective on what happens in other research fields. “I have learned so much about various lab settings, team dynamics and new technologies.”
Shevchenko also appreciates the interdisciplinary approach to her research. “I am at the Department of Electronics, studied Photonics and Biophotonics, have a co-supervisor from the Chemistry Department and currently work growing and studying cells at Harvard. At both institutions, I am working with top-notch scientists, cutting-edge technologies, while helping to solve real issues.”
Shevchenko’s work has been funded through a CIPI TEN grant and NSERC Michael Smith Supplement from NSERC. She returns to Ottawa and Carleton in March.
Postscript: Shevchenko finished her PhD at Carleton in December, 2012. She is now a PostDoc at Harvard.