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Steven W. Graves

graves-spotlightSteven W. Graves
Associate Professor
Department of Chemical & Nuclear Engineering
Associate Director, Center for Biomedical Engineering
The University of New Mexico
Eta Diagnostics Incorporated (STC start-up)

Dr. Graves has disclosed 12 inventions, has eight pending patent applications, and has an option to license agreement with STC start-up Eta Diagnostics Incorporated. Eta Diagnostics is a spin-off of Sandia Electro-Optics Corporation, a local start-up focused on developing and commercializing innovative measurement instruments in the life science and environmental sensing markets. The company will develop a platform of technologies created by Dr. Graves and his co-inventor who received $25,000 in gap funding in 2013 from STC’s gap-fund program to develop the invention.


The inventors have designed a parallel analysis system for use in flow cytometers. The system uses multimode acoustic standing waves that focus particles and cells into multiple parallel streams that can support up to 37 distinct particle flow streams simultaneously with parallel optical detection across the flow streams. Acoustic wave focusing is particularly useful in parallel analysis because it can be used for a wide range of cell and particle sizes in a single device. The goal of the researchers is to create a high-throughput parallel flow cytometer prototype that will push the current analysis rate of 50,000 cells/second to 100,000 cells/second using 10 flow streams. But they believe they can push that rate even higher with a future goal of over 1,000,000 cells/second. The key to accomplishing this goal lies in coupling their parallel focusing technology with their parallel optical detection technology. Flow cytometers are routinely used to diagnose blood cancers but have many other applications such as biomarker detection, drug discovery, genetic testing, and chemotherapy drug resistance testing. The new technologies could lead to parallel flow cytometers with high analysis rates that not only benefit current flow cytometry based on high throughput screening but also significantly improve rare-cell clinical applications, such as analysis of fetal cells in maternal blood for prenatal diagnosis, which requires analysis of billions of cells. Best of all, the new technologies will lead to a new parallel flow cytometer that is as inexpensive as current conventional flow cytometers.


Dr. Graves’ research has been divided into two main areas broadly described as (1) biomedical/environmental/process instrumentation and diagnostics and (2) biomolecular engineering for protease studies, screening, and molecular computation, with particular emphasis on developing low-cost, portable flow cytometers and the next generation of optically activated large particle sorting systems.


UNM-Affiliated Pending Patent Applications

13/320,454 Synthesis of Stable Elastomeric Negative Acoustic Contrast Particles
13/103,756 Multinode Acoustic Focusing for Parallel Flow Cytometry Analysis Applications
13/835,629 High Density Ni-NTA Supported Lipid Bilayers for Stable and Directional Protein Attachment to Microspheres
PCT/US13/32025 Spatially Correlated Light Collection from Multiple Sample Streams Excited with a Line Focused Light Source
13/835,108 Spatially Correlated Light Collection from Multiple Sample Streams Excited with a Line Focused Light Source
61/825,738 Signal Propagation Biomolecules, Devices and Methods
61/843,506 Methods for Multiplexed Flow-Based Analysis of Biological and Biomimetic Membranes and Membrane-Associated Species
61/861,600 Multiplexed Enzyme Displacement Gates for Isothermal Amplified Detection of Multi-Strain Pathogen Signatures