We would like to invite you to our next Early-career Researcher Seminar (IDMxS-ERS, formerly Postdoc Seminar) on 28 May 2024, Tue, 10 – 11 am in the IDMxS foyer (NTU, EMB Lvl 7). Refreshments (coffee, tea, and various snacks) will be provided for all registered attendees (beginning 9.30 am, arrive by 9.50 to enjoy). Please share this announcement widely! Register your intent to attend at https://forms.office.com/r/tCNsd1QihF.

Our talks for this event will be:

Talk #1: “A Conjugated Polyelectrolyte-Aptamer Electrochemical Transistor for Dopamine Sensing”
Presented by: Yan JIANG, PhD Student, NUS – Chemistry & I-FIM
PI: Guillermo BAZAN

Talk #2: “Observing natural light harvesting with two-dimensional ultrafast spectroscopy”
Presented by: Long NGUYEN, PhD, Research Fellow, NTU – CCEB
PI: Howe-Siang TAN

This is a continuation of our 2023 IDMxS Postdoc Seminar series, now rebranded to IDMxS-ERS to be more inclusive of other research positions. Our focus remains on giving research communication opportunities to researchers at or near the level of a post-doctoral research fellow. We are very actively looking for speakers in 2024, and anyone interested (postdocs or senior students) can use the registration form or email us at idmxs-events@ntu.edu.sg for more info. Nomination of speakers from peers or advisors is also encouraged.

Thoughts on our seminar format? Let us know what we can do better for future sessions through this feedback form.

We look forward to your attendance and support for our seminar event!

16 May 2024

Authors: Dr Andrew Breeson and Prof Atul N. Parikh

Graphics: Dr Foo Yong Hwee and Dr Andrew Breeson

Digital Molecular Analytics is an emerging science that explores the most fundamental elements of life at a molecular level. It is transforming our approach to diagnosing diseases and reshaping healthcare in the digital age by allowing researchers to detect and analyse single molecules in a biological environment. Furthermore, it has the potential to provide affordable, sensitive, and rapid diagnostic devices whenever and wherever they are needed.

This blog post will outline the principles of this exciting new field and show how the Institute for Digital Molecular Analytics and Science (IDMxS) is pioneering techniques with far-reaching implications for diagnostics and health.

For centuries, scientists have explored ways to detect the presence, amount, or activity of target molecules using procedures called assays. Scientists typically conduct these assay experiments in a single reaction vessel (like a test tube), and based on measurable responses from a bioactive substance added to the vessel, they can infer the presence or concentration of a target substance (the analyte). For example, an assay might investigate how quickly bacteria grow when exposed to a nutrient or quantify the death of cancer cells treated with a chemotherapeutic agent. In each case, the bioactive substance will produce a signal directly proportional to the analyte’s concentration (or activity), which the scientist then measures.

While these traditional assays have long been the gold standard in scientific research and clinical diagnostics, they provide a signal that averages the responses (or behaviours) of many millions of molecules. Therefore, these assays can’t offer any insights into the response of individual molecules. Moreover, the traditional assays are burdened with many practical limitations that affect their accuracy, efficiency, and scalability.

  • Traditional assays can’t detect very low concentrations of analyte. The sensitivity is affected because measurements can be influenced by similar substances present in the sample.
  • Traditional assays provide a range or an approximation of the quantity of the target analyte, which might be influenced by external factors and often needs calibration against known standards.
  • Scaling up traditional assays can be cumbersome and error-prone because they often require linear increases in sample volume and reagents and can be limited by the physical constraints of the assay setup (like the vessel size).
  • Traditional assays are difficult to automate fully because they often involve manual setup, measurement, and interpretation steps, which can also introduce variability and human error.
  • The data from traditional assays can be complex to analyse and interpret. Experts are often needed to understand the nuances and potential interferences in the readouts.
  • Traditional assays have a limited dynamic range, which can restrict the upper and lower limits of detection. This limitation can make it difficult to measure very high or very low concentrations of an analyte without multiple dilutions or concentrations.

Because traditional assays measure analytes indirectly, it’s a bit like counting the average number of people at a party by measuring the total amount of food consumed. While this method gives a good ballpark estimation, it can lead to inaccuracies, especially if some guests are much hungrier than others… But imagine if you could check each guest as they entered the party instead of guessing based on food. Not only would you know the exact number of people at the party, but you would also know precisely who showed up. Welcome to the world of digital assays!

How can we digitise an assay? The method is surprisingly simple. Rather than conducting the experiment in the same large vessel like traditional assays, digital assays partition the experimental sample into thousands or even millions of “microreactors”. In these tests, each tiny partition is a reaction vessel that either contains the analyte (we call this a “1”) or it doesn’t (a “0”). There’s no ambiguity—each reaction is either positive or negative. Just as digital cameras transform a visual image into a series of pixels, each represented by 0s and 1s, digital assays transform a sample into a series of clear, discrete test results.

  1. By simply counting how many partitions contain the analyte, digital assays can be incredibly accurate, even when detecting molecules at minuscule concentrations.
  2. They are absolute, without requiring reference measurements, and sensitive, even in the presence of interfering components. For example, they can detect low concentrations of rare markers in blood that indicate early-stage diseases.
  3. These tests use very small amounts of sample and reagents, making them efficient and less wasteful.
  4. Digital assays are often faster, as they can be automated using advanced technologies like microfluidics, which handle liquids at incredibly small scales.
  5. Just like adding more pixels to a digital image can improve its clarity, increasing the number of tiny reactions in a digital assay can enhance its precision without a significant increase in cost or complexity.

For these reasons, digital molecular analytics has profound implications for global health. By enabling precise quantification of pathogens, cancer biomarkers, and genetic mutations – long before the earliest symptoms of the disease become evident – these technologies can lead to earlier intervention and more personalised treatment strategies. Digital assays can detect viruses at very low concentrations for infectious diseases, making it possible to identify infections before they become widespread. These technologies thus may herald a new era in individual and public health – characterised by very early detection and pre-symptomatic intervention – thereby delaying (if not entirely eliminating!) the disease states.

In addition, quick and cost-effective analyses mean that high-quality diagnostics can be brought to resource-limited settings where traditional laboratory infrastructure is lacking. This democratisation of advanced diagnostic tools has the potential to transform public health landscapes across the globe and is the overarching goal of IDMxS.

IDMxS is a collaborative environment that integrates various aspects of biological and digital sciences to push the boundaries of molecular diagnostics. The institute is organised into several clusters, each focusing on different stages of the analytics process.

  1. Detection – This cluster focuses on developing new generic platform technologies to selectively capture and sensitively measure low-abundance biomolecules. It uses engineered nanostructures, sophisticated molecular recognition, and novel signal enhancement or amplification techniques that can identify single molecules of DNA, RNA, or protein in complex biological samples partitioned into FemtoLitre (a volume of 0.000000000000001 Litres) droplets, chambers, or wells.
  2. Transduction – This cluster transforms the biochemical interactions detected by the arrays of partitioned sensors into readable digital signals. It involves converting changes in molecular interactions into optical or electrical signals that can be easily quantified and analysed.
  3. Analytics – This cluster interprets the generated digital data using advanced data analysis techniques, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. This allows for the extraction of meaningful insights from complex datasets, facilitating rapid and accurate diagnostics.
  4. Translation – This cluster works on two parallel fronts. One goal of the translation cluster is to integrate these technologies into practical, user-friendly devices that can be deployed in various settings, including clinical laboratories and point-of-care locations. The goal is to make advanced diagnostics accessible and feasible for widespread use. The second goal of the translation cluster is to apply the generic platform technologies developed in other clusters to specific biomarkers associated with ageing and infectious diseases – two broad classes of medical challenges of our time.

By converting the complexity of molecular interactions into digital data, the IDMxS approach promises to enhance our understanding of the biological and chemical world around us, leading to significant advances in medicine, environmental science, and beyond.

Click here to learn more about our research and how we are unlocking the power of every molecule in the digital age.

ICCAS-IDMxS Joint Workshop on Biosensors

 

You are invited to an upcoming joint workshop between The Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ICCAS) and The Institute for Digital Molecular Analytics and Science (IDMxS) on 7 May 2024, 9 am – 5 pm.

Registration link: https://forms.office.com/r/ZrPV9erVdT

Download pdf version of programme: click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Seminar – Dr Charles Wang

Dear IDMxS Community

On behalf of the IDMxS Seminar Committee, we would like to invite you to our Seminar on Apr 17, Wednesday, followed by lunch.

Our speaker is Dr Charles Wang, Principal Research Scientist and Group Manager, from SIMTech (Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology), and he will be presenting his talk on

Automated (Digital) microfluidics for Lab Automation, Diagnostic & Healthcare Applications

Please register your intent to attend at https://forms.office.com/r/FuPKNK9RaS, before 11 Apr Thursday, 12 noon.

Registration will commence at 10:45am on the day of the seminar event and all attendees are to be seated by 10:55am. After the talk, lunch will be provided.

We look forward to your attendance and support for our seminar event.

Thank you.

We are thrilled to announce a new chapter in IDMxS as we welcome Professor Guillermo Carlos Bazan, a renowned chemist and materials scientist who is Provost’s Chair Professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS), as our new Centre Director!

Prof Bazan succeeds Prof Jay T Groves, Founding Director of IDMxS, who left Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in October last year.

Prof Bazan will also be a Professor at NTU’s School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology (CCEB), as well as hold a joint appointment as Professor at NUS.

Prof Bazan is well known for his work in molecular architectures with optoelectronic properties, including bioelectronic devices. Holding numerous patents and having founded five startup companies, his extensive expertise in biodetection technologies, coupled with his commitment to pioneering innovations in bioanalytical sciences, will drive IDMxS to become the leader in single-molecule digital molecular analytics.

We are incredibly excited to invite you to our first-of-the-year Early-career Researcher Seminar (IDMxS-ERS, formerly Postdoc Seminar) on 26 Mar 2024, Tue, 10 – 11 am in the IDMxS foyer (NTU, EMB Lvl 7). Refreshments (coffee, tea, and various snacks) will be provided for all registered attendees (beginning 9.30 am, arrive by 9.50 to enjoy). Please share this announcement widely! Register your intent to attend at https://forms.office.com/r/LMvS2bpiAQ..

Our talks for this seminar will be:

Talk #1: “Engineering Artificial Lipid Membrane Systems Toward Biomedical Applications”
Presented by: Hyunhyuk TAE, PhD Candidate, NTU – MSE
PI: Nam-Joon CHO

Talk #2: “Neurophysiology-inspired Graph Neural Networks for Brain-computer Interfaces”
Presented by: DING Yi, PhD, Research Fellow, NTU – SCSE
PI: GUAN Cuntai

This is a continuation of our 2023 IDMxS Postdoc Seminar series, now rebranded to IDMxS-ERS to be more inclusive of other research positions. Our focus remains on giving research communication opportunities to researchers at or near the level of a post-doctoral research fellow. We are very actively looking for speakers in 2024, and anyone interested (including students!) can use the registration form or email us at idmxs-events@ntu.edu.sg for more info. Nomination of speakers from peers or advisors is also encouraged.

Thoughts on our seminar format? Let us know what we can do better for future sessions through this feedback form.

We look forward to your attendance and support for our seminar event!

Seminar – Dr Patrick CHIA

Dear IDMxS Community

On behalf of the IDMxS Seminar Committee, we would like to invite you to our Seminar on 20 Mar, Wednesday, followed by lunch.

Our speaker is Dr. Patrick Chia, Director, Data Insights Unit, NUHS Deputy CE (Research & Education) Office, National University Health System (NUHS), who will be presenting his talk on

Medical Technologies and Data Science – Its role in transforming healthcare from a practitioner’s lens

Please register your intent to attend at https://forms.office.com/r/AnAXUJeLkn, before 14 Mar, Thursday, 12 noon.

Seats are limited, and registration will close once max capacity for the seminar is reached. We seek your kind understanding on this.

Registration will commence at 10:45 a.m. on the day of the seminar event, and all attendees are to be seated by 10:55 a.m. Lunch will be provided after the talk.

We look forward to your attendance and support for our seminar event.

Thank you.

Seminar – Prof Frank Scheffold

On behalf of the IDMxS Seminar Committee, we would like to invite you to our Seminar on 31 Jan, Wednesday, followed by lunch.

Our speaker is Prof. Frank Scheffold from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, who will be presenting his talk on

Shedding Light on Soft and Bio-Systems: Characterization Through Multi-Angle Light Scattering (MALS) and Diffusing Wave Spectroscopy (DWS)

Please register your intent to attend at https://forms.office.com/r/ndwgdtbK3e, before 25 Jan Thursday, 6 pm.

Seats are limited, and registration will close once max capacity for the seminar is reached. So, please register early.

Registration will commence at 10:45 a.m. on the day of the seminar event, and all attendees are to be seated by 10:55 a.m. Lunch will be provided after the talk.

We look forward to your attendance and support for our seminar event.

Thank you.

Major advances in biomedical sciences (e.g., omic biology, epigenetics and precision medicine), optics (e.g. new low cost, high pixel resolution cameras; compressive sensing and other mathematical imaging techniques and development of injection mouldable optical plastics), biotechnologies (e.g., whole genome sequencing, genome editing and synthetic biology) and many other developments in soft chemistry, nanotechnology and material sciences, provide both opportunities and drivers for the next generation of ultrasensentive, miniaturised and parallel diagnostic devices.

We would like to welcome you to join us for the 2nd Annual Scientific Symposium for Institute of Digital Molecular Analytics and Science (IDMxS). We convene on Friday 5 Jan 2024 in NTU for the whole day, to explore novel and emerging technologies for next generation diagnostics and biodetection. The aim of this annual meeting is to bring together scientists, engineers, researchers and applications experts in NTU, NUS, A*STAR, government agencies, hospitals, industry and the local ecosystem, to ideate concepts, communicate cross-disciplinary developments and foster collaborations that could form the basis of biodetection platforms of the future.

Full programme can be download here: IDMxS 2nd symposium programme book

Invited speakers profile

CHEN Wei Ting

Dr. Wei Ting Chen obtained his Ph.D. in Applied Physics with the prestigious Dean’s Award from National Taiwan University in 2014. During 2012, he was a Visiting Student at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton, U.K. from 2015 to 2020. He was a Research Associate in Prof. Federico Capasso’s group at Harvard University. Subsequently, from 2020 to 2022, he transitioned to a role as a Senior Staff Engineer at ams-OSRAM in New Jersey. He is currently the Chief Technology Officer of SNOChip Inc. Dr. Chen is an active member in the optics and photonics community and the chair of OSA technical group of photonic metamaterials for three years. During his service, he initialized an incubator meeting on Flat Optics, which becomes a topical meeting in Optica topical meetings. Dr. Chen have published more than 60 journal articles in metasurface, particularly in achromatic and dispersion-engineered metalenses. He has reviewed manuscripts for journals, including Nature, Science, Nature Communications, Nano Letters, Materials Today and various Optica journals. 

David DUFFY

Dr. Duffy is Chief Technology Officer and VP (Research) of Quanterix Corp. in USA. He joined Quanterix in 2007 and leads a team of scientists and engineers in developing digital ELISA on microbeads assay for protein biomarkers, called Single Molecule Array (Simoa) technology. He was the first Sir Alan Wilson Research Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, and holds a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. He was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. He is an inventor on 12 U.S. patents and has more than 20 publications in the fields of surface chemistry, microfluidics, and bioanalysis. He was previously at Surface Logix, where he was the Director of Pharmacomer Technology. There David oversaw the development of a novel chemical technology that resulted in two drug candidates currently in Phase II clinical trials. Prior to that, David was at Gamera Biosciences where he was a co-inventor of a centrifugal microfluidic that was acquired and commercialized by Tecan.

Daniel A. FLETCHER (IDMxS External Advisory Board member)

Professor Fletcher is the Purnendu Chatterjee Chair in Engineering Biological Systems, Department of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley. His is also a Faculty Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Deputy Division Director at Physical Biosciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He was a White House Fellow during the Bush to Obama transition. His lab uses a combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches to understand how biological systems are built, how they break, and what to do to fix them. Through in vitro reconstitution and experiments with live cells, they are linking the behavior of a system with the properties of its molecular parts, discovering general principles that control assembly of biological structures, and identifying strategies for therapeutic intervention. By developing custom experimental methods to control and quantify the assembly of cellular structures and tissues, they are adding what has been lost in the sonicator, centrifuge, and chromatography column – the physical constraints and boundary conditions that shape the structures and dynamics of cells. Prof. Fletcher is also known as an early developer of cell phone-based diagnostics.

SHEN Zuowei

Professor Shen is Vice Provost (Graduate Education & Special Duties) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He was Head of the NUS Department of Mathematics from 2012 to 2014, and Dean of the Faculty of Science from 2014 to 2020. In recognition of his contributions and service to NUS, he was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2021. Prof. Shen is well-known for his fundamental contributions in mathematical foundations of data science, especially in the areas of approximation and wavelet theory, image processing and compressed sensing, computer vision and machine learning. Together with his collaborators, he has several signature theorems and algorithms that include developing a duality analysis that leads to three mathematical principles: the duality principle, the unitary extension principle and the oblique extension principle in approximation and wavelet theory; sparsity based balanced model and algorithms by using redundant systems in image processing; and the singular value thresholding algorithm in compressed sensing. His recent research interests focus on approximation theory of deep neural networks.

Anderson H.C. SHUM

Professor Shum is currently a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Vice-President (Research and Innovation) at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), also serving as the Director of the Advanced Biomedical Instrumentation Centre. His research interests include emulsions, microfluidics, emulsion-templated materials and soft matter. Prof. Shum is widely recognized by honors, including the inaugural Hong Kong Engineering Science and Technology Award 2022, Croucher Senior Research Fellowship 2020, Rising Star Award by Ton Duc Thang University (Vietnam) 2019, NSFC Excellent Young Scientist Fund 2019, Young Scientists Award in Microsystems and Nanoengineering Summit 2019, IEEE Nanomed New Innovator 2018, and Early Career Award by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong in 2012. He has been named Fellow of Hong Kong Institution of Engineers in 2023, Member of Global Young Academy (First in Hong Kong) in 2021, Founding Member (2018) and President (2021) of Hong Kong Young Academy of Sciences, and Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in 2017. He serves as an Associate Editor for Biomicrofluidics (American Institute of Physics), Editorial Board Member for Microsystems and Nanoengineering (Springer Nature) and Scientific Reports (Springer Nature), and Editorial Advisory Board Member for Lab on a Chip (RSC).

TAN Boon Huan

Associate Professor Tan is a senior virologist with the Respiratory and Infectious Disease Program, where she teaches Virology and Biosafety. She holds a co-appointment as Distinguished Scientist with DSO National Laboratories, serving as senior advisor. She also holds a visiting scientist appointment with the National Centre of Infectious Disease (NCID). Her current interests range from method development in broad-based virus diagnostics to understanding the transmission of emerging viruses in appropriate in vitro disease model. She uses a system biology approach in her work, employing a range of expertise ranging from conventional virology to cell biology and molecular biology.

Postdoc Seminar

Dear colleagues and friends,

We would like to invite you to the next seminar in our postdoc series on 28 Nov, Tue, 10 – 11 am in the IDMxS foyer (NTU, EMB Lvl 7). Refreshments (coffee, tea, and various snacks) will be provided for all registered attendees (beginning 9.30 am, arrive by 9.50 to enjoy). Please share this announcement widely! Register your intent to attend at https://forms.office.com/r/8CYRwRuKRK.

Our talks for this seminar will be:

Talk #1: “Studying the role of extracellular chaperone in disaggregation of corneal amyloid fibrils”
Presented by: Bhargy SHARMA, PhD, Research Fellow, NTU – SBS
PI: Konstantin PERVUSHIN

Talk #2: “Ensuring Data Reliability & Stability via Solderless Electronic Packaging Strategy”
Presented by: ZHU Ming, PhD, Research Fellow, NTU – IDMxS/MSE
PI: CHEN Xiaodong

We have filled our schedule for the rest of the year! But we will continue this series in 2024 and anyone interested in speaking (postdocs or senior students) can email us at idmxs-events@ntu.edu.sg. Please share this with anyone that might like to present.

Thoughts on our seminar format? Let us know what we can do better for future sessions through this feedback form.

We look forward to your attendance and support for our seminar event!

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