Department of Chemistry and Physics Assistant Professor Fereshteh Emami has earned a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Professor Emami’s grant, in the amount of $346,576 for a period of three years, is entitled

Dr. Fereshteh Emami

“Mathematical Modeling of a Self-Assembled Probe for Non Intercalator Type Real-Time Monitoring of PCR.”  A significant portion of the grant funding will provide financial support for undergraduate and graduate students to perform research in Professor Emami’s laboratory.

Increased use of PCR technology for clinical and diagnostic research has focused attention on the need for real-time monitoring of a target DNA sequence amplification, thereby avoiding time-consuming post-PCR analysis. On the other hand, the critical barriers of the presence intercalator, electrochemical real-time detection methods, and nanopore-based technology are (1) the inhibition of PCR, (2) preferential binding to GC-rich sequences, (3) effects on melting curve analysis, (4) signal disturbance by other salts in the PCR buffer, (5) low signal resolution, (6) insufficient detection limit, (7) instability of the lipid bilayer, (8) tedious fabrication procedure of a thin ~nm pore in a solid-state substrate, and (9) utilizing expensive and bulky amplifiers.

To overcome these limitations, the proposed project by Professor Emami will use mathematical modeling of a self-assembly sensor to ascertain a highly sensitive detection scheme, which indirectly probes DNA polymerization in homogeneous solution and is interference-free. The application will also provide a useful model for identification of unknown influences on ribonucleotides detection processes, advanced understanding of self-assembled supramolecular host-guest thermodynamics, and testable hypotheses to developing novel biosensing strategies.

The broad-reaching impacts of this proposed project will affect students in chemistry, computer science, and biology departments interested in monitoring analytes of medical importance.

The work proposed here has been designed and structured in collaboration with Profs. Weiss and Alexandrova at UCLA to provide research opportunities to several students over the three-year life of the grant. The results from this study will be presented at conferences and authored for publication. Collaboration and training are key aspects of this project and are particularly important at a PUI institution like Southeastern. This study will train a new generation of scientists in a variety of scientific disciplines including biomaterials, and cell biology.

This award not only will provide research-enriched learning opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students at Southeastern but will likely have a major impact on the students’ career aspirations and goals.

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