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Wayne Frasch

ASU professor named Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year

By

Sandra Leander

The Arizona Bioindustry Association has named Wayne D. Frasch, a professor with Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, the 2015 Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year.

Frasch pioneered a novel DNA profiling technology capable of detecting protein molecules that indicate infectious disease or cancer with unprecedented speed and sensitivity. The award is given annually to the life science researcher in the state of Arizona who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge and the understanding of biological processes.

“I’m really appreciative of the Arizona Bioindustry Association for honoring me with this award,” said Frasch. “I’m grateful for being part of this family of people who want to see bioindustry grow and prosper in the state of Arizona.”

“With a 10,000-fold improvement compared to current approaches in the ability to detect cancer-related proteins, Dr. Frasch’s technology has the potential to provide earlier diagnoses and thus earlier intervention,” said AZBio president and CEO Joan Koerber-Walker. “In many cases, for both infectious disease and cancers, the earlier we can diagnose and intervene, the better the outcome will be for the patient.”

The technology relies on self-assembling nanodevices powered by a molecular motor that blinks red to signal the presence of individual target molecules.

Frasch initially developed the innovative single-molecule diagnostic methods for his basic research investigating the molecular mechanism of the FoF1 ATP synthase molecular motor, which has had nearly 20 years of National Institutes of Health funding. These studies are providing new understanding into the process by which all living organisms convert food into biologically useful energy, and also address fundamental questions about how a protein can generate torque on the nanoscale with nearly 100 percent energy efficiency.

Frasch started a biotechnology company called Attometrics, which has patented the technology that quickly detects proteins, DNA and metabolites of interest in much smaller amounts than is possible with current methods.

Frasch will be honored at the AZBio Awards Gala on Oct. 1.