Dave Discusses Infectious Disease Diagnosis on Demand

Meet Dave, the manager of the Membrane and Separation Technologies Lab at GE Global Research. Today, we announced the work we’re doing with a team based at the University of Washington to develop an on-demand diagnosis device to detect infectious diseases. Check out our interview with Dave Moore below to learn more about Dave, the device and what’s so exciting about being able to diagnose on demand.

Dave, tell us a bit about you.
Dave-300x254I joined the Global Research Center in July of 2003, so I just hit 10 years at GE! Over those 10 years, I have worked on technologies that span the membrane and separations industry, as an individual contributor, project leader, and now as a laboratory manager.

The technologies that my team and I develop serve the Healthcare, Power & Water and Oil & Gas businesses, and have application range from point-of-care in vitro diagnostics to downstream biopharmaceutical separations to produce and wastewater treatment and reuse.

Over the past four years, I have been leading a cross-organizational and multi-disciplinary team of chemists, chemical and mechanical engineers, material scientists, and molecular biologists to develop novel diagnostic components, reagents and devices. For instance, we have developed a suite of new membranes and paper substrates that show differentiated performance – higher sensitive membranes for immunoassays, and improved stabilization of biomolecules (including RNA) and small molecules (drug metabolites and environmental ecotoxins) in a dried biospecimen format.  Furthermore, using GE Global Research pilot scale infrastructure that we call the GEM3 (GE Modular Membrane Modification) Line, we have demonstrated the roll-to-roll manufacturability of these new diagnostic components.  These materials are now be utilized to enable the paper-based diagnostic platform that you can see in the video below.  It is a very exciting time to be developing these technologies!

Describe the device you’re your developing in less than 140 characters (a tweet). Ready, Set, Go.
We are creating an instrument-free, paper-based, fully disposable diagnostic platform for the detection of a broad set of infectious diseases.  The device will be administered by untrained users and provide results (sample to read-out) in less than one hour.

Early conceptual design showing the pieces necessary for a field-based diagnostic test, including a swab, a smartphone, and the testing device. (Courtesy: University of Washington, Department of Bioengineering)" alt="Early conceptual design showing the pieces necessary for a field-based diagnostic test, including a swab, a smartphone, and the testing device. (Courtesy: University of Washington, Department of Bioengineering)

What is most exciting to you about this device you are developing? 
The potential for this device is huge – from developed regions to limited resource settings, from doctor’s office and clinics to home use.  That potential is both exciting and daunting because the device could change the way disease diagnosis occurs today.  To make the device a success, we must integrate many complex technologies as simply as possible – exciting and daunting!

Why does this on-demand device matter?
There are a number of reasons why…
It will detect multiple pathogens by their DNA or RNA in less than 1 hour
– Sample-to-result anywhere (ER, doctor’s office, clinic, remote settings, or at home)
– Simple enough for untrained users to use them
, like a pregnancy test
– Low enough cost
and high enough performance to enable widespread use of sophisticated medical testing
It is a fully-disposable diagnostic platform that could be expanded to water quality monitoring, livestock & veterinary medicine and agricultural analyses (genetic modification; food contamination)

What types of expertise were involved in this project from GE Global Research and how has this combined expertise impacted the project?
Organic and analytical chemists, chemical, biomedical and mechanical engineers, material scientists, and molecular and cellular biologists are all essential skill sets that have impacted the project.  The close collaboration between these skill sets is essential to technology advancement.

Why did you decide to become a Scientist?
As PostDoc in our GE Chemistry-Magic shows, I probably shouldn’t admit this…but the magic of chemistry is what drew me to becoming a scientist.  Chemical transformations and the byproducts and properties that results from them, fascinated me.  Additionally, I have also always had a deep desire to develop chemical solutions that positively impacted the world – from improved healthcare to environmentally friendly chemical processes. For instance, I took a 5-week class in Egypt in 1997 doing analyses of Islamic monument deterioration pathways; this steeled my resolve to pursue a career as a scientist.  The extensive Islamic monument damage was being caused by increased water table levels from sewage leakage, and we recommended a number of solutions to refurbish Cairo’s sewage and waste management facilities.

Why GE’s Research Center?
I chose GE Global Research because of the wonderful breadth of technologies and deep expertise that exists here.  This combination makes the research center an ideal place to develop new technology.

What do you do when you are not developing “Diagnosis-on-demand”?
I am managing the rest of my lab, where we are making novel hollow fiber materials for the purification of biological drugs and exploring novel materials and separation processes to safely and economically purify tough-to-treat waste waters, like those produced from the hydraulic fracturing of shale gas reserves. Outside of work, I spend time with my wife, Liz, and our dog, Teddy.  I am also an avid sports fan, and keep my calendar filled with rounds of golf, soccer matches, running and weight lifting.