Silicon Valley of Medicine

Rice scientists have recently pioneered “programmable nano-bio-chip sensors” capable of sophisticated measurements of the molecules of life present in such complex bio-fluid samples as blood, urine and saliva. Here, a large collection of high quality, ultra-small size sensor systems that exhibit outstanding performance characteristics and compare favorably to their modern, expensive, large in size, laboratory-confined counterparts have been developed. These devices can be reprogrammed, like software, so that new clinical applications can be created quickly and in a cost-effective manner. Rice University is based in Houston, an ideal site for these activities because it hosts the Texas Medical Center (TMC), the largest medical complex in the world, supporting 2 of the 3 largest cardiac efforts and is the location of MD Anderson Cancer Center, the largest cancer institute on the planet.

Award Winning Technology

Rice scientists pioneered the development of powerful, programmable sensors that have the potential to serve as universal clinical tools that can revolutionize the diagnostics industry. This new technology has been named "Best of What’s New" by Popular Science magazine and "Best Advance of the Year" by the Science Coalition. The miniature test ensembles detect various analytes associated with cardiac disease, cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases, drug of abuse and neural degenerative diseases with high accuracy and at low cost.

Human Impact

This marriage of in-vitro diagnostics and electronics that is embodied in the Rice-programmable bio-nano-chip initiative will lead to major decreases in healthcare costs and major increases in quality of care. This modular approach uses a common high performance analyzer platform for all major types of diagnostics for the likes of acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, cardiac risk assessment, diabetes and chemical additions. The devices will serve as universal data-gathering hubs and have glucometer-like sampling interfaces that can be upgraded for new tests, just like updating the software on a computer or cell phone. The new technology pioneered at Rice in now moving into 6 major clinical trials and has led to the recent formation of the “Texas Cancer Diagnostics Pipeline”.