Chemistry Professor Earns $1.54 Million Grant From National Institutes of Health for Protein Separation Device

Dr. Shaorong Liu, an associate professor of chemistry, says his plans for a new hybrid chip device for automated two-dimensional protein separation could revolutionize diagnostic abilities for detecting diseases.

Research/Academic Showcase

Dr. Shaorong Liu Dr. Shaorong Liu

A Texas Tech University chemistry professor received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to create a machine for detecting and separating proteins in the body.

When it comes to detecting diseases or anything in the human body, proteins leave a telltale trail. But precise measurement of these proteins is challenging, says Dr. Shaorong Liu, an associate professor of chemistry.

Current methods of detecting protein levels in the body are available, he says. However, they are labor-intensive and cannot detect trace amounts of certain proteins. Also, the results of these tests can’t be reproduced.

“When the results are not reproducible, that is a poor analytical method,” Liu says.

An automated system would not only allow researchers an opportunity for mapping how much of a protein is present in a human body and a faster method for mapping, but also could make diagnoses of diseases such as cancer  sooner.

“To understand diseases, you have to accurately measure their relative protein concentrations,” Liu says. “That is what we are trying to develop. This machine could accelerate the discovery of biomarkers of certain diseases and allow for an earlier diagnosis.”