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

Researchers and physicians at Johns Hopkins University will collaborate with the nanoelectronics R&D center imec to advance silicon applications in healthcare, beginning with development of a device to enable a broad range of clinical tests. The corresponding tests will be performed outside the laboratory. The collaboration, announced today, will combine the Johns Hopkins clinical and research expertise with imec’s nanoelectronics capabilities. The two organizations plan to forge strategic ties with additional collaborators in the healthcare and technology sectors.

“Johns Hopkins has always prioritized innovative and transformative research opportunities,” said Landon King, MD, the David Marine Professor of Medicine and executive vice dean of the school of medicine. “Our new collaboration with imec is such an opportunity, and we very much look forward to leveraging our respective strengths across the university in biomedical and nanotechnology research to improve patient diagnosis and care throughout the world.”

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 quickly analyzed using a smartphone, tablet or computer, making diagnostic testing faster and easier for applications such as disease monitoring and management, disease surveillance, rural health care and clinical trials. Compared with the current system of sending samples to a laboratory for testing, such an advance would be “the healthcare equivalent of transforming a rotary telephone into the iPhone,” said Drew Pardoll, MD, PhD, the Martin Abeloff Professor of Oncology. Pardoll leads the advisory board for the Johns Hopkins-imec collaboration, which will work to extend new applications of silicon nanotechnology into multiple areas of medicine.

“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 centers and the broader bio-pharma and semiconductor industries, to create the combined expertise required to address huge healthcare challenges that lie ahead,” stated Luc Van den Hove, CEO at imec. “Only through close collaboration will we be able to develop technology solutions for more accurate, reliable and low-cost diagnostics that pave the way to better, predictive and preventive home-based personal health care.”

Rudi Cartuyvels, senior vice president of smart systems at imec, added, “The unique combination of imec’s nanoelectronics expertise with Johns Hopkins’ proven medical sciences and clinical expertise will enable us to jointly develop game changing solutions for more effective healthcare.”

Imec, established as an independent non-profit research organization in 1984, is a leader in the fields of silicon nanotechnology, semiconductors and bioelectronics. Founding faculty on the Johns Hopkins side of the collaboration include Robert Bollinger, M.D., M.P.H., a professor and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education (CCGHE); Stuart Ray, M.D., FIDSA, professor of Medicine and Oncology in the Division of Infectious Diseases of the Department of Medicine; Denis Wirtz, the Theophilus Halley Smoot Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; and William Osburn, Ph.D., an instructor in the Division of Infectious Diseases. This new initiative significantly expands upon an established relationship between imec and JHU’s School of Engineering.

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