Meet Rutgers’ Newest Faculty, 2018-2019

Rutgers faculty are accomplished teachers, researchers, and scholars who think beyond disciplinary boundaries and care deeply about the students they teach, mentor and advice.

Meet some of the new members who joined the Rutgers community across Camden, Newark, New Brunswick, and Rutgers Biomedical Health Science bringing diversity, vision, extensive scholarship, and wide-ranging real-world experience to the classroom in our series. 

Umer Hassan

Assistant Professor, School of Engineering and Core Faculty Member at Rutgers Global Health Institute

Umer Hassan remembers being fascinated by the handheld tricorder used to diagnose medical conditions on Star Trek.

Hassan is working to recreate some of that technology in real life. As an engineer and a global health researcher, Hassan is developing biosensors that can quickly and inexpensively detect infections in people living with HIV/AIDS in underdeveloped countries.

In these countries, he said, one in five people living with HIV/AIDS could be infected with other diseases, and the biosensors’ swift measurements could be life-saving.

“I am a bit critical of the tricorder—one device won’t be able to solve all the problems,” he said. “But it can diagnose, and some of the idea came from Star Trek. I develop point of care biosensors that are low-cost, completely automated and can quantify or diagnose disease rather than relying on expensive equipment.”

Even as a child he has looked for ways to apply technology to solve everyday problems and when he was an eighth grade student, he developed a computer program to do his math homework for him just because he loved creating automated systems.

Now, as a professor, he’s looking to teach the next generation of engineers how to create automated systems that could save lives in his new spring 2019 course, Biosensors for Global Health. 

The biosensors may have a global impact, but Hassan says that they can be used close to home, too. Recently, Hassan spent time in a local hospital for the birth of his daughter, and he soon realized that the biosensors could assist physicians and save lives.

“Collecting blood samples from newborns and infants is really painful for the babies and, of course, for the parents, too,” he said. “For pediatric populations collecting large volumes of blood samples for diagnostics is not easy. Our biosensors require only a drop of blood to get the required diagnostic test done. This will not only reduce the amount of blood sample collected, but also the reduce the cost and time it takes to receive the results.”

Did you know?
Even professors have bucket lists. Hassan wants to see the world, especially the countries that are home to the people his device could serve, but his preferred mode of transport is not limited to the ground – he wants to learn how to fly a plane and deep sea dive, too.


 

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