Paul Yager Research Group
Bioengineering Department, Box 355061, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
Current Research Projects

Note that the following projects were funded as of the date on which this page was updated (see last line of page). This does not guarantee that any of them is funded and active as of the date you read this page, or that if it is still funded, there are extra funds to support you. If you are interested in working on one of these projects, please contact PY's assistant (see Yager's home page). Also, there are projects ongoing at the time that have no external funding, but are progressing nonetheless....

Current Project Title Funding Source

Extending cell phone capabilities for sensitive detection in lateral flow assays


9/14 – 8/16 + NCE

NIH R21 (Baker, PI) 10/16 - 9/18



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Extending cell phone capabilities for sensitive detection in lateral flow assays

This is a 2-year NSF EAGER project (a NCE) aimed at utilizing the full potential of current and future smart phones for medical applications, particularly those involving optical detection of biochemical assays. The principal aim was to determine what optical capabilities should be incorporated into the next generation of smart phones to be useful in medical diagnostics tests.

The initial work in the project aimed at determinng if photoacoustic detection of absorbance by gold nanoparticles was a way to increase the sensitivity of lateral flow-based tests for detection of proteins and nucleic acids. The required the use of time-varying light sources of high intensity, and acoustic detectors adjacent to or mechanically coupled to the lateral flow strips, complicating the lateral flow disposable. Ultimately, it was concluded that the light sources would have to be unreasonably bright and expensive to accomplish this goal.

The subsequent work has been aimed at developing methods of combining inexpensive light sources that can be powered by today's smart phones to enhance the sensitivity of lateral flow assays beyond those possible with conventional imaging detection. Initial experiments with quantum dot detection of protein-based bioassays with cell phones have been extremely promising.

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In collaboration with the David Baker group, we were awarded $4.3 million in 2016 by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The aim of the initial 2-year contract is to develop an instrument-free fully-disposable paper-based diagnostic platform capable of extremely sensitive detection of Ebola viral glycoproteins from blood.

{TEM of EBOV, Oct. 13, 1976, by, Frederick A. Murphy of the CDC}

There are three primary goals of this project.

1) Develop a hyper-sensitive protein assay and embody it in a rapid POC disposable format using the 2DPN technology.

2) Develop the molecular tools (novel binding proteins) for capturing and detecting glycoproteins from  Ebolavirus in a sandwich assay on paper.

3) Integrate both technologies into an  disposable that detects EBOV.

If this phase is successful, the goal is to validate the test against DTRA criteria, commercialize and deploy the EbolaBox in an optional follow-on project beginning in year 3 years


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A rapid and specific diagnostic for immunoglobulin response to Zika virus exposure based on de novo designed low cost hyper-stable mini-protein epitopes



David Baker's group leads an R21 proposal aimed at developing enhanced specificity serology assays that can differentiate the presence of an ongoing or pre-existing immune reponse to closely-related flaviviruses, particularly Zika, dengue and yellow fever viruses. There are two primary goals of this project.

1) The Baker group will develop the molecular tools (small novel viral epitope mimetic proteins) capable of selectively capturing and detecting jsut those antibodies that are specific to the target viruses.

2) The Yager group will Integrate the novel binders into a simple low-cost rapid 2DPN-based point-of-care serology assay based on binding the target antibodies from a plasma sample.

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revised 6/19/17