for COVID-Testing 

Editorial journal cover design

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increasing need for fast and reliable viral diagnostic testing. Synthetic biologists designed a freeze-dried biomolecular platform that contains gene-circuit-based sensors to detect the presence of viruses. The technique has been adapted into glucose meters to create portable and fast diagnostic testing that doesn’t require a highly-trained technician. It only needs a droplet of viral sample to revitalize gene sensors and trigger a visible detection signal. This 3D visualization was created to depict this new biotechnology, and to attract audiences in this field of research. 


Faculty advisor

Marc Dryer


Maya, Arnold renderer, Photoshop

Final presentation format

Editorial journal cover

Primary audience

The general public

Work Process

Ideation and Thumbnails

After getting familiar with the topic and the specific research through the papers published by the Pardee Lab, several thumbnails are drafted up to visualize the technique. 



Source paper

  1. Pardee, K., Green, A. A., Takahashi, M. K., Braff, D., Lambert, G., Lee, J. W., Ferrante, T., Ma, D., Donghia, N., Fan, M., Daringer, N. M., Bosch, I., Dudley, D. M., O’Connor, D. H., Gehrke, L., & Collins, J. J. (2016). Rapid, Low-Cost Detection of Zika Virus Using Programmable Biomolecular Components. Cell, 165(5), 1255–1266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2016.04.059

  2. Amalfitano, E., Karlikow, M., Norouzi, M., Jaenes, K., Cicek, S., Masum, F., Sadat Mousavi, P., Guo, Y., Tang, L., Sydor, A., Ma, D., Pearson, J. D., Trcka, D., Pinette, M., Ambagala, A., Babiuk, S., Pickering, B., Wrana, J., Bremner, R., … Pardee, K. (2021). A glucose meter interface for point-of-care gene circuit-based diagnostics. Nature Communications, 12(1), 724. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20639-6


Media reference

  1. Yong, E. (2016, October 12). A New Way to Transport Vaccines and Detect Zika and Ebola. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/10/to-make-vaccines-anywhere-just-add-water/503525/

  2. U of T researchers present “lab in a box” for COVID-19 testing in online webinar | Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto. (2020). UofT LDFP. https://www.pharmacy.utoronto.ca/news-announcements/u-t-researchers-present-lab-box-covid-19-testing-online-webinar

  3. The Scientist Creative Services Team. (2020, September 29). Combating COVID-19 with Cell-Free Expression. The Scientist Magazine®. https://www.the-scientist.com/the-marketplace/combating-covid-19-with-cell-free-expression-67840 

  4. Hoftyzer, E. H. (2021). PHARMACEUTICAL SCIENTISTS ADAPT GLUCOSE METER TO DIAGNOSE DISEASE. University of Toronto | Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. https://www.pharmacy.utoronto.ca/news-announcements/pharmaceutical-scientists-adapt-glucose-meter-diagnose-disease