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Caltech and Integrated Diagnostics Researchers Receive Grand Challenges Point-of-Care Diagnostics Grant

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Jim Heath, Ph.D., co-founder and Board member, Integrated Diagnostics; Gilloon Professor, Caltech will pursue an innovative point-of-care diagnostics project, titled Protein Capture Agents with 40 oC shelf life for developing world point-of-care HIV-1 diagnostics.

The Grand Challenges Point-of-Care Diagnostics program provides funding to scientists and researchers worldwide to create technologies and components to assess conditions and pathogens at the point-of-care in the developing world. Dr. Heath’s project is one of 22 Grand Challenges Point-of-Care Diagnostics grants announced today.

“New and improved diagnostics to use at the point-of-care can help health workers around the world save countless lives,” said Chris Wilson, Director of Global Health Discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Our hope is that these bold ideas lead to affordable, easy-to-use tools that can rapidly diagnose diseases and trigger timelier treatment in resource-poor communities.”

Projects that are receiving funding show promise in creating Point-of-Care Diagnostics that will be easy to use, low cost and otherwise appropriate so that they achieve significant impact and rapid uptake in resource-poor settings.

The goal of the project is to create diagnostic protein assays for applications in harsh settings by overcoming a key-limiting factor of current assays — the instability of antibodies, especially at high temperatures. The project is a partnership between the Caltech lab that invented the approach, and Integrated Diagnostics, an emerging leader in molecular diagnostics, which has licensed and is commercializing the technology. The researchers are developing protein-catalyzed capture agents (PCCs) with broad applications to disease diagnostics.

In addition to his roles at Caltech and Integrated Diagnostics, Dr. Heath is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. His awards include Jules Springer Award in Applied Physics (2000); the Feynman Prize (2000); the Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences (2001), and the Spiers Medal from the Royal Society (2005). Dr. Heath directs the National Cancer Institute-funded NanoSystems Biology Cancer Center, and has been a founder of a number of startup companies, including MTI (acquired by Siemens in 2005), NanoSys, Inc., and Momentum Biosciences, which is a biotech incubator currently operating in Los Angeles.