Do you start big or start small? One nanoscience researcher is doing both.

Dr. Marinella Sandros is trained in working with remarkably small things, such as molecular biomarkers.

Her collaborative research is pursuing a grand idea: using molecular biomarkers to allow individuals to detect mild brain trauma almost instantly. CBS Sports has highlighted this research recently, joining past reports by ESPN and the News and Record. The research team is growing too, she says, each additional member providing needed expertise.

Dr. Kristine Lundgren and Dr. Vincent Henrich from UNCG are a part of the team, along with researchers from NC A&T State, Moses Cone Health System and Boston College.

Collaboration is an integral part of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, where engineers and scientists are on each floor to spur a mixing of ideas and perspectives.

Two JSNN graduate students, who received their undergraduate science degrees at UNCG, are a part of the research as well. She notes the expertise they are getting by operating sophisticated equipment and the international contacts they are making is increasing their career prospects exponentially.

“TBI is our focus,” she says, referring to traumatic brain injury. “There’s a lack of tools for mild TBI now.” A potential device to detect mild TBI in real time with a blood sample – on the ballfield, in a medical setting, in war zones – is a ways off.

It will open up doors for the medical field.

But work proceeds, and the biomarker “platform” they are working on could have additional applications, such as for cardiovascular healthcare and for early detection of breast cancer. The Friends for an Early Breast Cancer Test organization recently provided a grant for the platform.

“It will open up doors for the medical field,” she says of the collaborative platform work. “What we don’t know, we’ll learn.”

She anticipates researchers will identify biomarkers that were unknown, in this “dark area for medical professionals.”

“It’ll be a new tool for doctors.”

By Mike Harris, University Relations
Photography by Chris English, University Relations