We are developing new quantitative molecular assays for translational use in clinical diagnostics, particularly focusing on prostate cancer. This is the newest research thrust area for the Smith Lab, but one of the most active, occurring in close collaboration with clinicians from the Mayo Clinic.

translational molecular pathology


We are developing new diagnostic assays for prostate cancer in collaboration with Mayo Clinic researchers in the Biomarker Discovery Program (John Cheville, Stephen Murphy, and Farhad Kosari), Rohit Bhargava (UIUC Bioengineering), and Rashid Bashir (UIUC Bioengineering). The primary goal is to measure genomic mutations in tumor biopsies and “multiplex” the detection numerous mutations on the same tissue. Because prostate tumor biopsies are often limited by the amount of tissue available, this is a major leap forward that can allow accurate diagnosis to improve therapeutic regimens for individual patients. This work is supported by a Mayo-Illinois Alliance Seed Award and an NIH/NCI research grant.

translational blood diagnostics


We are working with a Mayo Clinic oncologist (Manish Kohli, M.D.) to develop new blood screening assays for cancer using nanomaterials. These assays measure markers in the blood that are associated with prostate cancer progression, for which no current clinical metrics are available to determine whether treatment is succeeding. We are working with the Brian Cunningham Lab (UIUC ECE) to transfer these assays to a mobile device platform (Sci. Rep., 6: 29117, 2016) so that measurements can take place at the point of care. Our collaborative team functions through the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) in a theme called Omics Nanotechnology for Cancer Precision Medicine (ONC-PM).