Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Rosenzweig, Zeev

Second Advisor

Tarr, Matthew

Third Advisor

Cole, Richard B.

Fourth Advisor

Wang, Guijun


The objective of my research is to develop new surface optochemical sensors for studying cellular processes by investigating techniques to modify surface properties. The spectral characteristics of the modified surfaces and coatings are designed to show remarkable changes after interaction with analytes from biological fluids and cells. My studies focused on pancreatic cells and addressed the need for improved techniques to measure zinc release from pancreatic cells (chapter 3, 4) and to measure the metastasis potential of cancerous pancreatic cells (chapter 5). Chapter 3 describes the development of zinc sensing glass slides by conjugating a carboxylmodified ZnAF-2 to an amino functionalized glass surface. The sensor was used for the measurement of glucose-stimulated zinc ion release from cultured beta pancreatic cells with impact in diabetes research. In chapter 4 is described conjugation of the carboxyl-modified ZnAF-2 to antibody molecules (A2B5) that specifically recognize pancreatic cells. This enabled for the first time the use of targeted zinc sensors to monitor zinc release events from pancreatic cells. Chapter 5 describes development for the first time of a fluorescence sensor to measure the proteolysis activity of pancreatic cancer cells in microfluidic systems. The sensor was fabricated using a Layer by layer (LbL) deposition of polyelectrolyte. The sensor was based on Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) between luminescent quantum dots (serve as donors) and rhodamine molecules (serve as acceptors) that are separated by multi-layers of polyelectrolytes. The microfluidic platform enables precise delivery of reactants to assemble the sensor and facilitate unique cellular assays of enzymatic activity and enzymatic expression on pancreatic cancer cells.


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