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Area Engineering

Nanotechnological Approaches to Detecting and Sensing Cholesterol and Serum Lipids

keywords CHOLESTEROL, GOLD NANORODS, NANOMEDICINE, NANOTECHNOLOGY, RAMAN SPECTROSCOPY

Reference persons DANILO DEMARCHI

External reference persons Carly Filgueira (csfilgueira@houstonmethodist.org)

Research Groups MiNES (Micro&Nano Electronic Systems)

Thesis type EXPERIMENTAL

Description Cholesterol permeates into cell membranes where it plays an important role in the membraneís molecular structure and function. However, excess cholesterol in the bloodstream is a key contributor to plaque formation, which can accumulate and lead to narrowing of the arteries, or rupture, blocking blood flow and resulting in a heart attack. Lipid panel screenings can help identify an individualís risk for heart disease. While clinical blood tests for cholesterol are well developed and routine, they do not independently measure low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), which is closely tied to atherosclerosis. Further, there are no rapid clinical technologies for identification of cholesterol deposits in tissue, important for diagnosing xanthomas (skin lesions caused by local lipid deposits indicative of hyperlipidemia). In this project we will make synthetic lipid solutions containing cholesterol and study different ways to accurately detect and measure cholesterol in synthetic lipid solutions, solutions containing gold nanoparticles (nanorods), as well as in serum and biological tissues. We will assess novel ways to distinguish between HDL-C and LDL-C levels, critical information that is not measured in a routine lipid blood test. Wet chemistry techniques such as ultracentrifugation and thin layer chromatography will be explored and coupled with spectroscopic methods (Raman spectroscopy) to monitor the presence of cholesterol and serum lipids.

Required skills This project requires experimental work to be performed at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston (TX), US. A period of at least 9 months is required. For Masterís students, analysis performed remotely is possible. This project would involve collection and processing of rodent and porcine blood and tissue; therefore, the student would need to be comfortable working with animal blood and tissue samples. The student will assist with performing analyses and data collection. The student will be trained on wet chemistry techniques such as ultracentrifugation and thin layer chromatography. The student will work in a team that includes Dr. Filgueira as PI, Dr. Hafner as Co-I (a Physics Professor and collaborator from Rice University), Filgueira lab staff, and students from the Hafner lab. Good knowledge of basic physics and chemistry is required; familiarity with MATLAB programming, modeling, CAD, are a plus. Excellent English level is required (oral and written) and positive attitude to work in a diverse and heterogeneous environment.


Deadline 21/11/2023      PROPONI LA TUA CANDIDATURA




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