Jason Dwyer, Ph. D. is a professor at the University of Rhode Island who runs the Dwyer Research Group. Dwyer is interested in utilizing a fairly new field in science known as nanotechnology.
“I’m interested in making minute tools that allow us to discover things about nature, and turn those discoveries into applications,” said Dwyer.
Dwyer uses a series of complex interactions to be able to help create new medical devices. One of the interests of Dwyer is “to take the idea of a home glucose meter. This is a medical diagnostic test that you can do from the comfort and privacy of your own home, but it tests for one thing. Can we make a more sophisticated device that you can do from your own house that can be used for medical diagnostics? That way we don’t need a $1 million lab.”
Dwyer uses research with something known as a ‘nanopore.’ The nanopore is a small channel in our cells, much like a needle, that molecules can pass through. Dwyer hopes to be able to use this small channel to be able to learn more about how molecules interact. He hopes to be able to not just look at many molecules, but to examine every molecule one at a time.
“Normally when you take a test tube you have 1023 molecules. If I’m teaching, let’s say a thousand person class, I might know the class average and I might know the student who sits in the front row who raises his or her hand every time, but it is difficult to know everyone,” said Dwyer, “It’s the same thing with molecules, you aren’t aware of the different populations that exist.”
One of the most alluring applications of this research is the ability to do medical tests at home. This research would allow for devices that could help make doctors make diagnoses and further checkups on patients outside of a medical setting.
“I want something that you can hold in your hand like a cell phone and put a drop of blood on this little thing that comes out of it and your cell phone can analyze what’s in the blood and maybe it’s going to communicate with a doctor,” said Dwyer.
It may seem impossible to think of a day when your smartphone could be able to analyze your blood, yet again it was said to impossible to be able to have a device play thousands of songs and be smaller than your thumb.