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ASU professor finalist for innovation award

ASU professor finalist for innovation award

By

Sandra Leander

The Arizona Technology Council has named Arizona State University professor Wayne Frasch as a finalist for a Governor’s Celebration of Innovation award. Frasch, a professor in ASU's School of Life Sciences, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is a contender for the 2012 Innovator of the Year Award for Academia.

Frasch’s fundamental work with the ATP synthase enzyme served as the foundation for his creative innovation: a highly sensitive nanodevice that may be used for early detection of bioterrorist agents, diseases and pathogens.

Frasch’s nanodevice improves upon available technologies in both medicine and national defense. The device is particularly sensitive and fast-acting, and has the potential to greatly improve early diagnosis of diseases. In some cases, the nanodevice can detect less than 100 molecules (Attomole amounts) and register low levels of toxins in under 30 minutes.

The nanodevice was designed by attaching a gold nanorod to a molecular rotary motor. When the device detects a target molecule, the gold nanorod produces a blinking light signal that results from the rotation driven by the motor.

“What I have accomplished would not be possible without the hard work of many people along the way – graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, undergraduates and collaborators,” says Frasch.  “Research is a challenging endeavor. There are many blind alleys along the way, which makes the ultimate shared success of a project all the more fulfilling.”

Frasch is the founder and CEO of an Arizona State University spinoff company called Attometrics, Inc. His work has led to nine patent applications, six of which were issued in the past year. Since 2008, Frasch has served on a panel responsible for developing a funding “road map” for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.  For his critical contributions as a research professor at ASU, Frasch received the ASU Alumni Association Founders’ Day Faculty Achievement Award in February.

Science Foundation Arizona, National Institutes of Health, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and the United States Department of Agriculture have funded Frasch’s research.

The Governor’s Celebration of Innovation award honors innovative leaders in technology from throughout the state of Arizona. The Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Department of Commerce chose the finalists. Award winners will be announced during the awards gala on Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Contributing editor: Gabrielle Malo