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Terry Hazen

Terry Hazen, Governor’s Chair for Environmental Biotechnology, has the big idea of developing a “SuperChip”—a biological decoder that could reduce waiting time for important lab results at the doctor’s office, allow for quick detailed water safety tests, and decrease the spread of food-borne illnesses through expedited testing.

A SuperChip will be an all-in-one microarray with the capability of finding complete and specific DNA information about bacteria, fungi, viruses, biotoxins, and other microbes. A microarray is a collection of microscopic DNA spots attached to a solid surface.

“This chip would fit on a desktop and be able to take a sample from virtually anywhere, do a complete DNA sequence, and tell you what is in there and how much,” said Hazen. “This utility would be universal and I predict the cost would decrease as it is mass produced.”

The chip could have implications for clean water technologies, energy, infectious disease diagnosis, climate change, food safety, environmental clean-up, and bioterrorism.

According to Hazen, the technologies for the SuperChip already exist but need to be pieced together. He is working to form an international working group of scientists and has talked with U.S. funding agencies, international governments, and potential collaborators to begin development. Hazen believes the revolutionary device can be created in five years with an investment of $100 million.

“Given the impact that this SuperChip could have it is well worth the price,” wrote Hazen. To read more about Hazen’s big idea, view his Opinion piece in Microbial Biotechnology.