Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MS in Biology


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Javier F Juarez

Second Advisor

Matteo Ruggiu

Third Advisor

Xue Mei


Accurate and timely diagnosis is crucial in preventing progression to advanced disease stages and in improving survival rates of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Using synthetic biology tools, we aim to integrate synthetic biological circuits into the construction of a novel, whole-cell biosensor (WCB) that will detect salivary biomarkers of OSCC. In treating biological parts and genetic circuits as modular pieces, we can intentionally rearrange selected domains of interest to create new transcription factors that will enable the detection of molecules of interest. Our end-goal is the creation of portable devices carrying living cells that express our synthetic genetic circuits so that dentists can test salivary samples from patients in situ and receive feedback regarding the presence of OSCC biomarkers within a short period of time. This promising technology can transform the future of diagnostics and personalized medicine. While our particular biosensor will serve as an aid in the early detection of OSCC, we consider it as the proof-of-concept of a platform that can eventually be applied to clinical screening panels for a multitude of other medical conditions.

Available for download on Friday, January 05, 2024

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