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Sensing the deep ocean
Date:12/20/2011

Futuristic robots may be coming soon to an ocean near you. Sensorbots are spherical devices equipped with biogeochemical sensors, that promise to open a new chapter in the notoriously challenging exploration of earth's largest ecosystemthe ocean.

The devices are being designed and developed in the laboratory of Professor Deirdre Meldrum, ASU Senior Scientist and Director of the Center for Biosignatures Discovery Automation at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute.

Much of Meldrum's genomic research focuses on deep ocean environments and leverages her extensive technology development for human health and disease. In 2001, her group was awarded an $18 million grant for a National Institutes of Health Center of Excellence in Genomics Science, which led to the establishment of the Microscale Life Sciences Center (MLSC) currently headquartered at the Biodesign Institute in the Center for Biosignatures Discovery Automation. (The MLSC grant was subsequently renewed for an additional $18 million.)

Meldrum's Center brings together researchers in electrical, mechanical, chemical, and bio- engineering, chemistry, computer science, materials science, laboratory medicine and microbiology as well as personnel from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington and Brandeis University. Together, they work on developing microscale devices to analyze cells and their DNA, RNA, and proteins to understand and eventually diagnose or prevent diseases such as cancer and inflammation.

To accomplish this, Meldrum and her colleagues develop microscale modules to measure multiple parameters in living cells in real time in order to correlate cellular events with genomic information. As Meldrum explains, the Sensorbot project significantly expands the scope of oceanographic investigations carried out by Biodesign's Center for Biosignatures Discovery Automation:

"We are leveraging our automation, sensors,
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Contact: Joseph Caspermeyer
joseph.caspermeyer@asu.edu
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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