Support for the campaign will launch new degree programs and bring high quality education to adult professionals, online and in the classroom. Funding for research will enable faculty and students to thwart formidable real-world problems, including life-threatening diseases—the dream of recent PhD recipients Cihan Yilmaz, Jaydev Upponi, and Asanterabi Malima.

The trio aim to catch colorectal cancer, heart failure, and other maladies in their earliest, most treatable stages with a nano-size biosensor that can detect minute amounts of specific proteins in a drop of blood. The low-cost chip works within minutes and its precision means it could one day save many lives.

“Physicians could use our chip to monitor patients and see how a treatment is working,” adds Yilmaz. He is a mechanical engineering postdoc; Malima is an electrical and computer engineer; and Upponi is a pharmaceutical scientist.

Donors to Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator, IDEA, provided start-up funding. Major support came from the Keck Foundation and from the National Science Foundation through the university’s NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering
Center for High-rate Nanmanufacturing, which patented the chip technology.

After completing their tests on mice, the former graduate students spun off a company, Biolom. Next steps: to seek venture capital and start trials in humans.