Creating New Chemical Biosensor Technology

Detecting Neurodegenerative Diseases Sooner

Computer generated illustration of a human head in profile with a glowing brain and abstract designs in the background.

Event Details


Fri, May 26, 2023
3:15 - 4:15pm
Meet & Greet
4:15 -5:00pm


In-Person at WWU
Science Lecture (SL/SMATE)
Room 150

And Online on Zoom

Brought to you by:

Behavioral Neuroscience Program, Chemistry Department, WWU Alumni Association


Check out this video to watch the Creating New Chemical Biosensor Technology - Detecting Neurodegenerative Diseases Sooner.

To gain a deeper understanding of neural circuitry and its effect on behavior and neurodegenerative diseases, we urgently need a sensor technology that can measure the communication among neurons—which is achieved through the release and uptake of neuromodulators (NMs) such as dopamine (DA), serotonin (5HT) and norepinephrine (NE). Unfortunately, the existing technologies for measuring neuromodulators are primitive.

Currently, there is no method for measuring multiple neuromodulators with sufficient sensitivity, specificity, spatial resolution, and temporal resolution. If these signals could be measured in real-time, this technology would provide a “map” of how different neural circuitry controlled by different NMs operates together to govern behavior and disease. At the University of British Columbia, work is underway to develop a biosensor technology that will enable the simultaneous detection of major NMs in real time. Instead of relying on conventional electrochemical approaches, we are using structure-switching aptamer (synthetic antibodies) that change their conformation upon binding to specific neuromodulators and optically measure the binding signal using single photon detectors.

In this presentation, Dr. Amani Hariri will describe the progress on developing this technology and discuss potential applications in neuroscience. 

An informal in-person meet and greet with Dr. Hariri will take place after the talk until 5:00 pm. Refreshments will be provided.  


Amani Hariri has a warm smile, large brown eyes, long brown hair, and white skin. She is wearing a pink blouse and black neck scarf.

Dr. Amani Hariri, Speaker

Dr. Amani Hariri is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Hariri completed her PhD in Chemistry at McGill University, where she focused on using single molecule fluorescence methodologies to optimize the assembly of artificial DNA nanostructures to enable their applications in drug delivery and medicine.

Accommodations and Other Details

Contact Andrea Swanson for this event if you have questions by calling (360) 650-2148 or emailing

Advance notice for disability accommodations and special needs is greatly appreciated. Please indicate your special needs on the registration form.

There will be auto-captions available for the Zoom webinar.

Limited paid parking is available in the C lots at the south end of campus and in lots 6V and 7G at the north end of campus. Western provides comprehensive parking details—including lot locations, applicable fees, and campus map. Please note that parking in the C lot and 12A by Fairhaven College is free after 4:30pm on weekdays and all hours on weekends.