Wayne Frasch is being honored for his research, which resides at the interface between basic research and innovative mission-driven investigation into the inner workings of cells, molecules and DNA. His work into biosensing has ramifications that stretch into medicine and anti-terrorism activities, as the tools he has developed have the potential to detect contaminants in the human body or the environment at a level far more sensitive than existing technologies.
The core of Frasch’s basic research focuses on how molecular “motors” use cellular energy to drive the rotary motion of protein complexes. To accomplish this, he has developed novel approaches to view and measure the rotation of single molecules of these motors by microscopy. Through his detailed study of the rotational mechanism of the F1-ATPase enzyme, Frasch conceived of a way to take the biological motor and couple it with science applications outside of the human body. A recent extension of his research has led him into the transdisciplinary field of DNA computing, a field that uses the hereditary material present in most forms of life as a model for computation. This approach has the potential to revolutionize the field of massive parallel computing, as it opens the door to solve problems that have proven vexing for standard silicon-based computers.
Frasch has published more than 70 papers and has obtained five patents related to his work, with another five patents pending. In the past 10 years, he has been principal investigator on projects that have obtained more than $8 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He is president and CEO of Attometrics, a business developed to commercialize several of his biosensing applications.
His papers have been cited more than 1,000 times by other researchers, and he is asked frequently to speak on his research at seminars and research workshops. Frasch serves on the editorial review board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, has participated in numerous grant review panels, and serves as a leader for the School of Life Sciences faculty in the areas of biomedicine and biotechnology.
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