Educational Background and Training:
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Bioengineering, Rice University (2009-2011)
Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of Texas at Austin (2002-2008)
M.S. Biology, Texas State University (2000-2002)
B.A. Biology and Science Education, Texas A&M University (1993-1997)
Shannon Weigum is an interdisciplinary researcher focused upon the development of optical biosensors and microfluidic devices that can detect and diagnose disease at the point-of-care. Dr. Weigum has published fifteen peer-reviewed manuscripts and poster abstracts, one book chapter, and holds one US patent. Her work has been featured nationally in Popular Science, CNET news and on the cover of the journal Lab-on-a-Chip.
She is the current recipient of a Career Development Grant from the NIH/NIAID-funded Western Regional Center of Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research (2012). Other awards include the University of Texas Continuing Fellowship (2006), the R.B. and Margaret Lewis Endowed Presidential Fellowship in Biochemistry (2004 and 2006), the College of Natural Sciences Dean’s Excellence Fellowship (2003), and the Colene Drace Award in Cell Biology (2002). She has served on the University of Texas Libraries Committee, Graduate Awards Committee, and in the Graduate Student Assembly, and participated in the Women in Chemistry, Iota Sigma Pi Honor Society, and American Chemical Society professional organizations.
Dr. Weigum’s research addresses the clinical need for rapid diagnostic tests in developing countries and other resource-poor settings where the high cost and lack of laboratory equipment, infrastructure, and skilled personnel present barriers to proper disease prevention and treatment. Microfluidic sensors, also known as lab-on-a-chip devices, offer unique opportunities to address these challenges. Their small feature size (0.1 µm – 100 µm) enables lower consumption of costly reagents, shorter reaction times, and permits multiple laboratory processes to be completed on a single platform. A variety of bioanalytical applications have been demonstrated using microfluidics, including chromatography, DNA sequencing, microarrays, PCR amplification, immunoassays, protein and amino acid analysis, and flow cytometry. However, many of these microfluidic devices require an extensive external infrastructure of laboratory equipment for reagent storage, fluid handling, and detection via fluorescence microscopy that limit their use at the POC or in resource-poor settings. Therefore, a critical need remains for affordable, rapid, and robust diagnostic devices for developing countries.
The long-term goal of Dr. Weigum’s research is to develop simple, patterned microfluidic devices for diagnostic bioassays (whole-cell, protein, and nucleic acid) which are rapid, inexpensive, and can be deployed at the point-of-care. The key focus areas for this research include: (1) alternative microfluidic substrates, such as 2- and 3-D paper networks; (2) the integration of straightforward colorimetric, optical and spectroscopic detection schemes for bioassays and; (3) application of these techniques for disease diagnosis, monitoring of water and food pathogens, and bioterrorism surveillance.