Swab Before You Eat

An affordable and quick way to avoid food poisoning

The joy of traveling, besides seeing the sights and sounds of a country, is enjoying local cuisines. For the more adventurous travelers, certain destinations also bring higher risk of food poisoning.

NYU Abu Dhabi students have come up with a solution for this common problem: a customizable device that can not only detect multiple food-borne pathogens on food before consumption, it’s  also quick and affordable.

Detecting Multiple Foodborne Pathogens with a Single Swab

The NYUAD’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team developed a modular, point-of-care, lab-on-a-chip diagnostics platform using synthetic biology and bioengineering.

In less than 20 minutes, the portable and cost-effective device can simultaneously detect four major foodborne pathogens: Campylobacter, Cholera, Listeria, and Salmonella and can be customized for the detection of other food pathogens.

The multidisciplinary team won a Gold Medal and a nomination for Best Diagnostics Project at the annual iGEM competition in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I believe that iGEM encourages budding scientists to connect the dots between laboratory experiments and social impact.

Sion Hau, Class of 2021

iGEM Competition

Dubbed “the World Cup of Science,” the iGEM competition is considered the world’s largest synthetic biology competition. 340 teams from 42 nations participated in 2018.

iGEM represents the future of cross-disciplinary research in biotechnology that can help us solve many of the major global challenges.

Bishwas Shrestha, Class of 2021

The NYUAD’s iGEM team consisted of 13 students from 13 nationalities:

Bishwas Shrestha, Class of 2021
Cristian Garcia Zamora, Class of 2021
Daniel Obaji, Class of 2019
Doovaraha Maheswarasarma (co-team leader), Class of 2020
Imtiyaz Hariyani, Class of 2019
Kai-Wen Yang, Class of 2020
Laura Karpauskaite (co-team leader), Class of 2020
Lujain Ibrahim, Class of 2020
Mariam Anwar, Class of 2020
Munib Mesinovic, Class of 2020
Sion Hau, Class of 2021
Tom Abi Samra, Class of 2021
Yejie Yun, Class of 2021

Faculty and instructor mentors:
Ibrahim Chehade, Instructor of Biology
Ashley Isaac, Assistant Instructor, Science
Esteban Salvemini, Manager of the Advanced Manufacturing Workshop
Mazin Magzoub, Assistant Professor of Biology
Andras Gyorgy, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Yong-Ak (Rafael) Song, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering

Among several outreach activities that took place in parallel with the competition, the iGEM team organized the first Youth Debate on Food Security in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of State for Future Food Security.