Free and open to the public
Research Pavilion, Room 475 (NanoScience Technology Center)
The horrific terrorist events of September 11, 2001, followed by the surprisingly wide-spread dissemination of anthrax spores by contaminated U.S. Postal Service mail, brought home to Americans the realities and potential dangers of biological warfare. As a result of these events, Homeland Security Presidential Directives 7 and 9 established protection of critical infrastructures and key resources, including food and water, as this Nation's highest priority. Unfortunately, conventional procedures to detect and identify biothreat agents in food, water, and other materials can take days to perform and may provide inconclusive information. Research at the University of South Florida's Advanced Biosensors Laboratory (ABL) focuses on development of evanescent wave biosensor assays for real time/near real time detection of biothreat agents and microbial pathogens. The ABL develops innovative sample processing techniques and biosensor assays utilizing antibodies and other receptor molecules to rapidly identify biothreat agents such as Bacillus anthracis, E. coli O157:H7, Vibrio cholerae, smallpox virus, and ricin. Biosensor assays developed by the ABL are optimized for reproducibility, sensitivity, and specificity, and tested on various platforms. The ABL also develops enrichment protocols and rapid processing methods for complex matrix samples such as ground beef, apple juice, produce, potable water, recreational water, human blood, and saliva, enabling such samples to be directly tested by biosensor assays for target analytes. An Automated Concentration System (ACS) developed by the ABL and licensed by USF is capable of rapidly concentrating Bacillus spores, E. coli O157:H7, enterococci, and other target analytes from large volumes of water for identification by biosensor or other platform assays. The ABL collaborates closely with industry, government agencies, and other universities in joint partnerships to transition its research from the laboratory to field and commercial applications. Such collaboration is a prime example of a successful academic/industry/government partnership that has led to new discoveries to protect the Nation's critical infrastructures and the public health.