Lab Alumni:

Chris Chamblee, Andrew Smith*, Tyler Sodia*, Lindsey Armstrong, Austin Haider, Marcos Maldonado*, Anika James, Marlea Kudlauskas, Lisa Fetter*, Anna Nguyen*, Derek Clark, Ilia Mazin, Nazar Dubchak, Jena Jacobs, Jessica Daniel*, Aviva Bulow, Susan Jett*, Ryan Warren, Tiffany Ashbaugh, Michael McCoy, Ebony Miller, Jonathan Richards*, Laura Roon*, Becky Addison, Jeremy O’Brien, Travis Ingraham, Sarai Graves, Kathryn Norquest*, Stephen Schaffner*, Kyra Brandt, Elina Baravik*, Yerelsy Reyna*, Josh Sowick, Jody Stephens*, Ryan Masterson*, Mason Preusser, Tonya Santaus, Amanda Faux, Matthew Stoddard, Morgan Miller.
(* denotes a researcher with a publication from the lab)

Dr. Andrew J. Bonham

Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Dr. Bonham’s Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Bonham’s work focuses on understanding and investigating Transcription Factors, essential human proteins that regulate the bodies growth and response to disease. These transcription factors are essential components of gene regulation, and there is great interest in probing their presence and activity in both academic analysis and clinical diagnostics. Current methods to address these questions are often time-intensive or require specialized reagents, such as antibodies. At Metropolitan State University of Denver, Dr. Bonham is leading an innovative undergraduate research program focused on engineering new tools for sensitive and quick detection of TF:DNA interactions.

Audi Fineran

Lab Member 2022-
Project: Electrochemical DNA Biosensors for Detection of Glycopeptidolipids

Nontuberculous Mycobacteria, referred to as NTM, is an opportunistic pathogen that is becoming a growing concern. NTM causes NTM Pulmonary Disease which often presents similarly to Tuberculosis infections. The current diagnostic “gold standard” for NTM Pulmonary Disease is a microbial culture-based method, which is a weeks-to-months long process. To expedite patient diagnosis and care, we propose a new efficient diagnostic method using a novel electrochemical biosensor that would efficiently detect the presence of NTM. The target of this biosensor is GPL, which is an NTM-specific glycopeptidolipid found within the cell walls of the prominent NTM species. The biosensor will use an electrode-bound DNA aptamer that conformationally changes when GPL binds to it. The conformational change is measured by using voltammetric analysis, which will show a difference when GPL, and therefore NTM, is present. By developing this sensor, it can be utilized medically, environmentally, and ultimately lead to a sensitive and rapid detection of NTM.

Victoria Colling

Lab Member 2022-
Project: Gold nanoparticle decorated gel polymers for cardiac organoid development

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The lack of effective treatment options and the shortage of available heart donors has led to extensive research investigating new methods to support the structure and function of myocardium tissue. Specific areas of key interest include improvements in transplantation of tissue, human tissue culturing, and the production of extracellular environments in vivo. One of the greatest challenges is improving methods to better mimic the properties of the natural cell environment, such as binding sites, stiffness, reactivity, and hydration. In this research, a conductive polymer matrix will be developed and characterized, which will serve as a scaffold to support the culturation of cardiac spheroids to be used in academics, research, and in medicine. Gold nanoparticles will be synthesized at high purity and with defined surface functionalization, then integrated into gel polymers to provide high conductivity and further support cell retention, spreading, development of cardiomyocytes, and effective gap junctions. Cardiac spheroids will be developed and analyzed using atomic force microscopy (AFM), then introduced into the scaffold. The introduction of these scaffolds with conductive gold nanoparticles into the process of tissue culturing should better enable effective cardiac spheroid maturation. This work will thus advance cardiac tissue engineering and provide methods of determining treatment effectiveness, contributing to improvement in methods for repairing damaged heart muscle and restoring cardiac function.

Dylan Poch

Lab Member 2019-
Project: Electrochemical DNA Biosensors for Detection of Mannose-capped Lipoarabinomannan

Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s most prevalent bacterial pathogens. It is estimated that almost 10 million cases of TB emerge every year, and roughly one-fifth of these cases are fatal. The current detection and diagnosis of TB is done primarily via two methods; the TB skin test and the TB blood tests. Neither of these tests can differentiate between latent TB infection and TB disease. In order to differentiate these states, time-consuming sputum tests are required, which rely on culturing the mycobacterium. Designing a sensitive serologic biosensor would dramatically decrease the time line of diagnosis and therefore improve patient outcomes. One possible avenue for improved detection lies in the cell wall of TB, which includes many complex glycolipids—many of which are believed to have immunopathogenic mechanisms in physiologic pathways. Mannose-capped lipoarabinomannan (ManLAM) is one of the most prevalent of these glycolipids, and presents a novel target as a bio-marker for the sensitive detection of TB and related Mycobacterium strains. Here, we have utilized an existing aptamer sequence that binds to ManLAM to generate a sensitive electrochemical, DNA-based biosensor for the detection of TB. This biosensor is able to adopt multiple different folded conformations, only one of which presents the core aptamer sequence in a state capable of binding ManLAM. An appended redox-active tag (methylene blue) generates a measurable difference in electrochemical current upon this conformational change, providing a sensitive and quantitative measurement of ManLAM concentration. Such biosensors may ultimately allow rapid, on site, diagnosis of TB infection within the time constraints of patient-doctor interaction.