Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Chemistry

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, xiv, 219 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair


Committee Members

Alexander Shekhtman, Jia Sheng, Jan Halamek, Ken Halvorsen


Circulating biomarkers, gold nanoparticles, graphene oxide, Liquid biopsy, miRNA cfDNA, multiplex detection, Biochemical markers, Nanobiotechnology, Biopsy, MicroRNA, Oligonucleotides, RNA

Subject Categories

Analytical Chemistry | Biochemistry | Materials Science and Engineering


Despite the advance health care, devastating health conditions such as cancer and infectious diseases that affect populations worldwide are too often not diagnosed until morbid symptoms become apparent in the late phase. Obtaining an early and accurate diagnosis that reveal a hidden lethal threat before the disease becomes complicated may dramatically reduce the severity of its impact on the patient’s life and increase the probability of survival. For example, in the case of ovarian cancer, which is the fifth most common malignancy and the fifth leading cause of cancer mortality in women in the US, the 5-year relative survival is 45%. If the diagnosis is made in stages III and IV when the cancer is well established and spreading, 17% of the women survive at five years. However, if ovarian cancer is found (and treated) before the cancer has spread outside the ovary, the survival rate can reach 93%. The sad fact is only 15% of all ovarian cancers are found at this early stage, whereas the vast majority, 70%, are detected in stages three and four. There is therefore an apparent need for the development of highly sensitive and specific noninvasive diagnostic assays for early detection, prognostic evaluation, and recurrence monitoring. This uneasy task, however, is hindered by three existing major limitations; (1) lack of an easy, inexpensive and noninvasive serial sampling method that can replace medical procedures, which is like colonoscopy for colon cancer or mammography for breast cancer. Second, lack of definitive molecular biomarkers for specific diseases as an alternative to protein biomarkers, like PSA for prostate cancer and (3) lack of a rapid multi-marker detection platform with high sensitivity and excellent specificity.