Professor; Director, Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation, College of Engineering
Professor Sharon believes that although biotechnology is an area with rapid scientific advancements, it is also an area in which the necessary engineering and manufacturing technologies have not kept pace with the science. This has created a bottleneck that must be addressed rigorously and aggressively to facilitate continued rapid advancement of the field. Towards that end, he has created the Boston University – Fraunhofer Alliance for Medical Devices, Instrumentation, and Diagnostics. The goal of the Alliance is to accelerate the process of taking medical innovations from the Laboratory to the Patient-Point-of-Care, by bringing together engineering faculty, physicians and full time engineers to physically realize the concept in a rapid and cost-effective manner.
In the area of rapid diagnostics, Prof. Sharon’s group focuses on the integration of microfluidic methodologies, high precision micromachining manufacturing techniques and nanotechnology to address unmet needs in sample preparation, cell and tissue culture, and clinical diagnostics. In conjunction with Professors Alexis Sauer-Budge and Catherine Klapperich, his group has developed a flexible Lab-on-a-Chip platform and associated instrumentation and demonstrated complete, end-to-end DNA-based diagnostics on a chip. This includes lysing of the cells, DNA extraction, PCR, detection, and all the necessary processing steps. Additionally, the Group is conducting research leading to novel methods for rapid antibiotic susceptibility detection within minutes, and development of rapid nucleic acid isolation for high throughput applications
In the area of flexible automation, Prof. Sharon is developing novel manufacturing systems for a variety of applications, ranging from sub-micron alignment for the manufacture of fiber-optic components, to large-scale automated production of plant-based vaccines, to high-speed assembly of consumer products.