ASU student receives 2020 School of Molecular Sciences Innovation Award for medical device

July 21, 2020

Arizona State University graduate student Swarup Dey has been awarded the 2020 School of Molecular Sciences Innovation Award for his invention, which creates a DNA nanosensor that mimics transmembrane proteins.

“Since I began my journey in research, it has always been my dream to work on something that will leave an impact on the world," Dey said. SMS graduate student Swarup Dey School of Molecular Sciences graduate student Swarup Dey was recently awarded the school's 2020 Innovation Award. Download Full Image

Established in 2019, the School of Molecular Sciences Innovation Award recognizes a graduate student, or student team, for achieving the school's mission of discovering molecular-level solutions to real-world challenges through the pursuit of methodology, or the development of a research idea or invention. The annual award rotates through one of the six primary research areas of the school, and the 2020 research areas were biological molecular science, and disease and diagnosis.

Dey joined the school's PhD Program in fall 2015 after earning a master's degree in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. His research focuses on “developing a cheaper and faster method for blood test-based cancer detection in the early stage of the disease.” He works under the supervision of professors Hao Yan and Rizal Hariadi.

“The theme of the 2020 SMS Innovation Award resonated with my research theme. I am grateful to be selected for this award,” Dey said.

Professors Hariadi and Yan said: “Swarup has conceived and executed a very innovative and original idea for rapid, cheap, liquid biopsy-based cancer diagnostics. Swarup Dey‘s invention will have a potential impact on helping doctors by providing rapid, ultrasensitive, highly specific and cost-effective diagnosis and prognosis of cancer patients without the need for surgical tissue biopsy.”

Swarup has already been granted a patent for his innovation. He is also preparing a manuscript on the research to be submitted to a primary research journal, and the work will be part of his PhD dissertation.

“I am delighted by the selection of Swarup Dey as the recipient of the 2020 SMS Innovation Award," said Bill Glaunsinger, School of Molecular Sciences emeritus professor, former unit chair and founder of the Innovation Award. "He has created a novel DNA nanosensor that mimics transmembrane proteins. This invention has the potential to provide a minimally invasive method for the early detection of cancer which is rapid, sensitive, specific and cost effective. Hopefully this prestigious award will help encourage Swarup to continue to pursue his invention.”

Here, Dey talks more about his project:

SMS graduate student

Swarup Dey

Question: What’s your vision about this innovation project?

Answer: This project has helped to inch a little bit toward changing the world and creating something to make diagnosis easier. I am really grateful to be selected for this award.

Q: How did you process this project?

A: I had this idea since summer of 2016. Initially we worked on it for about a year but it was too difficult and did not work. In the summer of 2019, we changed our design and thought to give it another shot. This time it worked. This has matured me as a researcher to understand the complexity and beauty of biology and never give up.

Q: What’s the next step of your innovation?

A: In the first part of our innovation we were trying to mimic the function of a class of biological protein that plays a crucial role in our body – from visualizing to controlling our blood pressure to let us think. Next, we used this feature to develop a rapid, diagnostic method for detection of cancer in early stages without the need of expensive and painful surgical biopsy processes.

The next step of this research involves optimizing our system for use in a clinical set up so that it can be commercialized. If successfully translated to the market, our innovation has the ability to improve current cancer diagnosis methods by a) reducing cost b) making it less painful — just a simple blood or urine test would be enough c) early stage detection with more time for doctors to save patients.

Being from an economically strained region in India, where health care is not very easily accessible, my dream is to develop a cheap health care solution for people who cannot afford expensive tests.

Q: Which faculty member helped you with your innovation?

A: Being part of Professor Hao Yan’s research group, surrounded by the highly collaborative environment of the Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics in the Biodesign Institute, has helped me tremendously. Professor Yan always encourages independent thinking and pursuit of passion rather than following a set of standard rules. This has really helped me grow as an independent thinker under his guidance.

I must also mention my other advisers — Dr. Rizal Hariadi and Dr. Yan Liu whose continuous support and ideas have helped me explore various fronts in this project. Dr. Hariadi always strives for work that alleviates real world problems. I consider myself to be lucky to be guided by these seasoned scientists in a world class institute.

Written by Mariela Lozano, communications assistant, School of Molecular Sciences

ASU provides graduate writing camps online this summer

University Academic Success Programs moves annual graduate writing camps online and expands support for graduate students

July 21, 2020

University Academic Success Programs (UASP) at Arizona State University hosted its annual summer writing camps for master’s degree, doctoral and graduate certificate students in June.

Each year, the Success in Graduate Writing Camp offers instruction on the academic writing and research demands of graduate school, and the Dissertation Writing Camps support doctoral candidates and dissertation prospectus writers. While UASP has hosted weeklong writing camps since 2012, this year marked the transition of all its camps to an online format. tutoring Download Full Image

“With ASU having to move all services online due to COVID-19, my writing staff knew the task they had at hand. They had to translate the curriculum of two different camps to an online modality,” said Ivette Chavez, director of UASP. “Their task was not a simple one of transferring the information from a face-to-face camp to online; they had to do the heavy lifting of translating the material to be equally impactful in an online platform.” 

Writing center professional staff dedicated several weeks to reimagining in-person curricula, including workshops, activities, handouts and resources, to be delivered online utilizing Zoom, Canvas and Slack. The writing center staff were intentional in designing each component to ensure that participants had an immersive, engaging virtual camp experience whether they chose to participate synchronously or asynchronously.  

“The care and concern for the graduate student really showed," said Gabriel Ramirez, a master’s degree student in criminal justice. "It was even more important to me, as an online student, to have the opportunity to participate and be a part of such an amazing camp. I’m what you’d call an older student and many of the sessions taught me something new, many of which didn’t exist when I went to high school. So when I decided to seek my advanced degree, I had to teach myself these new methods and that was definitely a difficult task to tackle alone.” 

To complement the curricula developed by writing center staff, UASP collaborated with the ASU LibraryGraduate College and the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience as well as faculty and recent doctoral graduates to provide additional webinars. The Graduate and Professional Student Association and various colleges worked with UASP to provide some scholarships for graduate students to attend the camps. 

The Success in Graduate Writing Camp had a record number of 477 participants, which increased from 55 participants in 2019.

“The writing camp was wonderfully done and I appreciate the time and effort that went into making it happen," said camp participant Gabriel Wilde, a master’s degree student in WWII studies. "I've been very nervous to begin my graduate program, but this camp has helped me feel more confident.”

Additionally, UASP hosted two Dissertation Writing Camps that provided doctoral students support for writing prospectuses, dissertations or applied projects. Combined, the two camps increased from 60 participants in 2019 to 89 in 2020. The Maroon Camp, which has been online since its inception in 2016, offered students a flexible schedule with a flipped classroom experience, while the Gold Camp offered increased real-time participation and live workshops.

All camp participants have access to their camp’s content for the 2020–21 academic year. Carolina, a master's degree student in biology (who requested to be identified by first name only), said: “This camp introduced us to invaluable resources and ideas and I am glad that we have access to them on Canvas for an entire school year. The online format was flexible, and everyone was extremely helpful and encouraging.”

UASP hopes to offer the writing camps in-person and online next year. Find more information on graduate writing camps.

Written by University Academic Success Programs staff.