Integrated Biosensing Platform for Waterborne Pathogen Detection: Improving Public Health

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Waterborne diseases are caused by microorganisms known as pathogens e.g. bacteria, viruses etc. that are most commonly spread through contaminated fresh water sources. These include reservoirs, rivers and wells with contamination being due to poor sanitation, agricultural runoff, illegal dumping etc. All of which may be further exacerbated by poor water/wastewater infrastructure and lack of water monitoring systems. One possible way of mitigating this issue is through the development of small portable sensing platforms that integrate techniques found in the lab onto a single device. Such a device could allow for rapid, field-based analysis of multiple freshwater contaminants and produce easy to read data outputs to provide health warnings to environmental agencies, NGOs or local communities.
The main aim of this research is to develop a novel multiplexed biosensing platform for portable integrated detection of DNA from waterborne diseases for real-time and on-site analysis of freshwater sources. In this doctorate project we will be focussing on the detection of bacterial DNA commonly found in contaminated fresh water, including but not limited to; Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Specifically, we will be developing a multiplexed biosensor with a DNA probe capable of quantifying target DNA from pathogens. We will look at various techniques for quantifying detection including amperometry, electrochemical impedance and the use of field-effect transistors. We will also look at the use of redox-active molecules known as intercalators, which bind directly to the hybridised DNA, and how these might be used to greatly amplify the detection signal to enable greater sensor capability with small target quantities. Finally, we hope to integrate off-the-shelve modular lysis and PCR-chambers that couple to the sensor components for on-device amplification of DNA samples. The end goal is to produce a lab-on-a-chip type device integrating microfluidics, filtration, lysis, PCR and DNA detection for a platform capable of truly portable and rapid detection. This research project will further provide collaborative opportunities both within and outside of the university, drawing knowledge of DNA detection and biosensor development from the department of electrical and electronic engineering, microfluidics from the department of chemical engineering, design and use of redox-active intercalators from Cardiff University and microbial biochemistry from Public Health England.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S01196X/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022
2110788 Studentship NE/S01196X/1 01/10/2018 31/03/2022 Joshua Robert Rainbow