Sagnik Basuray, an assistant professor of chemical engineering who develops novel sensors, diagnostic devices and drug delivery systems, has been named a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).
Basuray is among 66 academic inventors elected to the inaugural class of NAI Senior Members, a group that includes active faculty, scientists and administrators with success in patents, licensing and commercialization. Together, these new members represent 37 research universities and government and nonprofit research institutes, and are named inventors on more than 1,100 issued U.S. patents.
The director of NJIT’s Opto and Microfluidics Laboratory, Basuray has recently designed a device to quickly, accurately and affordably diagnose infectious diseases such as HIV and detect cancers before they progress. His device seeks to improve upon biosensors currently used in point-of-care devices such as dipsticks, for example, which often suffer from either limited specificity – the ability to identify a particular disease – or sensitivity – the ability to detect it at low levels of expression.
His blood test balances selectivity and sensitivity – if one is emphasized, the other is often compromised – while improving both, thus reducing false positives and negatives. His devices include both, “like a radio with two knobs that we can tune accordingly.” They can distinguish among diseases with very similar proteins and detect slight mutations in DNA in what are called microRNAs, messenger molecules dispatched by DNA to regulate gene expression. The latter are predictors of cancer.
Basuray is developing a new electrochemical sensing method that uses a nanoporous electrode technology. By packing nanostructures between electrodes, he is able to generate high shear forces capable of dislodging one object or material from another. Finely tuned, these forces would ensure that the so-called capture molecules deployed in the test bind with the targeted disease molecules, and that others, which represent test noise, are washed away. Similarly, the device would capture mutated RNA, while knocking off healthy genetic material.
“The idea is that anyone can use these devices. In remote settings with little health care infrastructure, people often wait days for a diagnosis. And by saving trips to the hospital to monitor chronic diseases, we hope to cut treatment costs,” he says.
NAI Senior Members have developed technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society, according to the organization, while they also foster a spirit of innovation within their communities and mentor the next generation of inventors.
"The election of the inaugural class of NAI Senior Members is a significant designation for a group of prolific inventors from NAI Member Institutions who are collectively a driving force in American innovation," said Paul R. Sanberg, NAI President. "This is truly an accomplishment worth celebrating."
Basuray has been issued four patents, of which three have already been commercialized. He has another three under review. He called his NAI membership “very gratifying, but also humbling, seeing the amazing inventors who are Fellows of NAI. They help me to set more goals.”
"It is always exciting to see our faculty tackle complex problems with powerful ideas that they are able to translate into transformative new technologies. We are, needless to say, extremely proud of Dr. Basuray for receiving this recognition from NAI for his patented inventions, which we're confident will have a lasting impact in the point-of-care arena,” said Atam Dhawan, NJIT's senior vice provost for research.
A full list of NAI Senior Members is available on the NAI website.