In the weeks before graduation, UW Bioengineering senior Brittney McKenzie is putting her final refinements on an invention she hopes will change lives around the world. She has developed a highly sensitive time-delay valve, which is embedded in low-cost paper network tests that quickly diagnose killer diseases such as flu, Dengue fever and malaria. The device — think disposable, foldable card – is a potential game-changer in low-resource settings around the world.
“I’m working to increase the sensitivity of these microfluidic devices,” she explains. “The next challenge is to enable the use of saliva or urine samples, rather than blood, to minimize the risk of infection.”
Brittney, a Mary Gates Research Scholar working in Research Assistant Professor Elain Fu’s lab, has seen first-hand how this research could help people in places such as the tropical rainforests of South America.