Sweat Science: Bioelectronics Pioneer John Rogers Featured Guest at April 19 Event

By Roger AndersonApril 14, 2017

John Rogers’ newest “lab” is about the size of a Band-Aid.

A tour of its operations, however, reveals that what it lacks in physical appearance, it makes up for in potential impact.

The so-called “lab on the skin” is a trailblazing innovation: it's a soft, flexible microfluidic device that measures a wearer’s sweat.  The low-cost monitor is designed for one-time use and can analyze key biomarkers, such as glucose, lactose, chloride, and pH.

“Sweat is a rich, chemical broth containing a number of important chemical compounds with physiological health information,” says Rogers, the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Neurological Surgery, who led the multi-institution team that created the device.

Rogers will discuss his latest research advances at this month’s Science Café, taking place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on April 19 at the Firehouse Grill, 750 Chicago Ave., in Evanston. Seating is limited.

His research team is pursuing the possibility of testing the device as a minimally invasive sweat collection vehicle for analysis of chloride concentration — a common screen for cystic fibrosis. The chloride-responsive chemical reagents also might help monitor water loss and proper hydration.

In developmental work, Rogers is working to establish detection chemistries that will allow precision assessment of glucose concentration for monitoring of diabetics, since sweat glucose correlates to blood glucose.

“The sweat analysis platform allows us to monitor a person’s health in real time without the need for needles,” says Rogers. “Its potential is vast.”