Sept. 23, 2004 • Volume 13 Number 2

Technology Review Cites Kelley as a Top Innovator

Asst. Prof. Shana O. Kelley (Chemistry), whose research into new methods of detecting DNA is seen speeding medical diagnoses, has been named by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology magazine Technology Review to its list of the world's 100 Top Young Innovators.

She is among 100 individuals under the age of 35 spotlighted for significant innovations in such areas as biotechnology and medicine, computing, and nanotechnology. The TR100 will be honored at the Emerging Technologies Conference being hosted by Technology Review at MIT Sept. 29-30.

Kelley is recognized for building nanoscale electrochemical and electrical sensors to detect medically relevant gene sequences and proteins, and for co-founding the biotech firm GeneOhm Sciences, in La Jolla, Calif., to produce molecular diagnostics based on one such technology.

"Being chosen for the TR100 has become one of the most prestigious honors for young innovators around the world," said David Rotman, executive editor of Technology Review.

"This year's winners are pioneering fascinating innovations in the fields of biomedicine, computing and nanotechnology, and were chosen after a rigorous selection and judging process. The result is an elite group whose visions and inventions will shape the future of technology."

An aim of Kelley's research is to make genetic testing as easy as taking a blood sample. She is developing methods to illuminate DNA with electricity, using instruments costing considerably less than those now used in DNA sequencing, a procedure currently difficult and quite expensive to conduct.

Such an advance would have significant applications in testing for bio-terror pathogens like anthrax, which could be quickly detected from a blood sample, lab researchers said.

The research is done on an infinitesimal scale. Kelley described what she does as placing "10,000 DNA sequences on the head of a pin" and running a pulse of electricity through. If both ends of a particular DNA double-helix are present, an electrical connection is made and the DNA is illuminated, she said, in a process comparable to screwing in the right bulb to coax a strand of nanoscale Christmas tree lights to glow.

Being named to the TR100 is the latest laurel for Kelley, who previously this year has received a Career Award from the National Science Foundation and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.

-Mark Sullivan

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