Jan Engels - The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

Jan's research focuses on bioanalytical methods for detecting infection/disease. Current methods for diagnosing diseases involve withdrawing blood for analysis in a laboratory, which requires time and money.

Jan is developing new methods aiming to bring medical diagnostics to third world countries and patients which could otherwise not afford them. Therefore his research is based on the development of a low-cost paper-based biosensor, similar to a pregnancy test, which can be used to test a range of diseases. However, in order to make such a test that does not require a laboratory and a large sample volume, the sensitivity of the test has to be increased. For this reason, Jan makes fluorescent nanoparticles, which increase the coloured signal given by a positive result - therefore allowing these diseases to be tested on-site, quickly, cheaply, and using little blood.

Full Name: Jan Engels
Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Department: Department of Analytical Chemistry
Position:  PhD candidate
Department URL: http://www.ust.hk/
What do the images show? These nano, or ridiculously small, shapes are an example of a new wave of technology: building structures that are nano-scale in size. Why so tiny you ask? By reducing the size of materials, the properties and characteristics also change, giving rise to many new applications in a range of fields from medicine to electronics. For example, nanostructures are small enough to penetrate a human cell, so they can be used as 'vehicles' to deliver drugs to the body. Drugs and targeting proteins are attached to the surface, allowing these nano-vehicles to speed through the body to seek out cancer cells and destroy them. This is just one example of how incredible, and pretty, these tiny structures can be.

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