Imec and Johns Hopkins University team to expand healthcare applications for silicon nanotech

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Researchers and physicians at Johns Hopkins University will collaborate with Imec, the nanoelectronics research and development centre, to advance silicon applications in healthcare. This will begin with the development of a device to enable a broad range of clinical tests that will be performed outside of the laboratory.

The collaboration will combine the Johns Hopkins clinical and research expertise with Imec’s nanoelectronics capabilities. The two organisations plan to forge strategic ties with additional collaborators in the healthcare and technology sectors.

‘Our new collaboration with Imec is such an opportunity, and we look forward to leveraging our respective strengths across the university in biomedical and nanotechnology research to improve patient diagnosis and care throughout the world,’ said Landon King, the David Marine Professor of Medicine and executive vice dean of the school of medicine.

Imec and Johns Hopkins University hope to develop the next generation of ‘lab on a chip’ concepts based on Imec technology. The idea is that such a disposable chip could be loaded with a sample of blood, saliva or urine and then analysed quickly using a smartphone, tablet or computer, making diagnostic testing faster and easier for applications such as disease monitoring and management, disease surveillance, rural healthcare and clinical trials.

Compared with the current system of sending samples to a laboratory for testing, such an advance would be, according to Drew Pardoll, the Martin Abeloff Professor of Oncology, ‘the healthcare equivalent of transforming a rotary telephone into the iPhone'. Pardoll leads the advisory board for the Johns Hopkins-Imec collaboration.

Luc Van den hove, president and CEO at Imec, stated: ‘This relationship with Johns Hopkins is an important step toward creating a powerful cross-disciplinary ecosystem with consumer electronics and mobile companies, medical device manufacturers, research centres and the broader bio-pharma and semiconductor industries, to create the combined expertise required to address huge healthcare challenges that lie ahead.’