CRISPR-Chip Inventor Kiana Aran Wins Major Women in Science Award
Kiana Aran is co-founder of San Diego-based techbio company Cardea Bio, and she also runs a research lab at the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences. The Aran lab's main focus is to forge novel platforms of analysis and diagnostics for future translational applications.
Dr. Aran obtained a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University in New Jersey (2012), and then went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in bio-engineering at UC Berkeley.
Her innovative efforts in harnessing the power of biology through modern electronics has significantly progressed the field of biosensing and facilitated many new applications in human health and beyond. Her research achievements have been featured in leading journals including Nature, Science, Advanced Journals, and the CRISPR Journal.
This prestigious Nature Research Award is testament to her exceptional contributions to scientific discovery.
Inventor of the CRISPR-Chip
Within the CRISPR Medicine field, Kiana Aran is probably best known for the invention of the CRISPR-Chip. The CRISPR-Chip is an electronic sensor that essentially uses CRISPR-Cas as a ‘DNA search engine’ that can scan genomes and nucleic acid samples for disease mutations and pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2.
The potential for CRISPR-Chip extends far beyond diagnostics though. It can also be used to validate CRISPR-Cas complexes that are used in other applications, for example, to monitor the binding efficiencies of Cas variants and guide RNAs during optimisation, allowing researchers to find the best Cas variant for their application. This makes CRISPR-Chip a powerful upstream quality control tool to monitor safety and efficiency in clinical as well as research applications.
Aran and her colleagues have already demonstrated that the chip can detect the mutations associated with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and sickle cell anaemia, and Cardea Bio is currently working with other scientists to develop a specific chip for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection.
In an interview with CRISPR Medicine News last year, Kiana Aran explained how the CRISPR-chip might be superior to the existing CRISPR-based approaches to COVID-19 surveillance:
»Whatever testing system we develop as we continue to fight this pandemic and prepare for the future ones, it has to be electronic, and the data has to be transferred without the user or doctors interfering, otherwise tracking will not be possible. It is not acceptable that the United States - the most modern society - still reports the COVID patient results on paper or pdf files to the agencies.«
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VIDEO: The CRISPR-Chip design and principle. Courtesy Kiana Aran/Cardea Bio
Live interview session
As a follow-up to this award, Dr. Aran will be interviewed by TEDx speaker, 2017 San Diego Business Journal’s Business Woman of the Year, and President & co-founder of LunaPBC, Dawn Barry, during a webinar on November 4, 2021.
In addition to the interview, the audience will have the opportunity to engage in an 'ask me anything' session. Finally, Dr. Aran will share a profound announcement at the end of the webinar on how she plans to spend the $40,000 prize money from Nature. Sign up to watch this webinar here.
Read the official press release about the award here.
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