UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


ECR Travel Bursary Award: Ben Miller

Dr Ben Miller is a researcher at the London Centre for Nanotechnology. In June 2018, he attended the World Congress on Biosensors in Miami, Florida.

I attended World Congress on Biosensors 2018 in Florida, USA, the largest conference in the field of biosensing. My PhD is in the field of biosensing, specifically focussed on the use of paper microfluidics along with novel nanomaterials to improve sensitivity and quantification; and expanding their use to new biological assays. This made the Pre-Congress Summer School on Paper-based (Bio)Sensors of particular relevance. There were a variety interesting talks including the use of synthetic biology on paper and silicon microfluidics, as well as quantitative modelling of fluid propagation in paper microfluidics, which will hopefully lead to a future collaboration. It was inspiring to see the speakers’ excitement for the future of paper-based sensors, and the breadth of the research in the area.

I gave an oral presentation on the first day of the three-day conference as part of the immunosensors stream, which focused on sensing systems built on antibody-antigen binding interactions. The work that I presented was on the use of video analysis with paper-microfluidics to take kinetic measurements of ligand-receptor binding interactions on paper microfluidic strips. This allowed measurement of antibody-antigen dissociation constants, a measure of the binding affinity, without pumps or power supplies, demonstrating excellent agreement with gold-standard laboratory instrumentation. In addition, kinetic measurements can give insights into lateral flow test design and fluid flow. Applying video analysis, rather than endpoint readings, to paper-based HIV diagnostic tests allowed rapid quantification, as well as extending the dynamic range of existing tests in certain circumstances. After my talk, it was interesting to discuss people’s perspectives on the work, and their ideas on the potential applications.

The talks schedule was fascinating, the four concurrent streams ensuring there were always talks of interest. It was an invaluable experience to get an overview of what people are working on in the field, as well as seeing work in slightly different areas to mine, which I found useful to build a picture of potentially interesting collaborations for the future. As well as meeting prominent academics in the field, the plenary talks were an opportunity to hear them present their work, and their visions for the future of the field, diagnostics and healthcare in general.